The Difference Between Unions & Associations

The following article was written by a co-worker of mine at OPSWA (The Ontario PSW Association). Brian Danckaert is our new OPSWA Representative for Southwester Ontario. He works out of Windsor. I enjoyed this piece & think it it explains the differences clearly.

UNIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS IN THE PSW FIELD
WHATS THE DIFFERENCE
Many working PSWs are often misled with information being delivered regarding the roles of these two very different organizations. This article will attempt to differentiate the two in how each of these organizations play in representing the PSW in the workplace.
Unions were first created in the early 1900s to regulate a fair and safe work environment, acceptable hours of work and equality of pay.  Unions are still present and strong today albeit  some of the duties have become redundant due to the implementation of labour standards mandated and enforced by municipal, provincial, and federal government agencies.  Unions if in place are used to mediate issues or problems between the employer and employee to better the standards and work environment for the employee.  Unions negotiate on behalf of the employees with the employer to develop and solidify a structured plan that both parties agree upon in order to carry out the job at hand, also known as a Contract.  Unionized employees  usually have representatives consisting of fellow co-workers that work with the employer to put into effect agreements toward fair wages, hours of work, conditions of employment, time off and numerous other issues pertaining to the contract. Union dues on average, usually amount to the equivalent of a few hours of pay per month or in some cases a percentage of take home pay.  Variations of the dues will be contingent on the status of employment, full time or part time.
 Associations are not-for-profit groups usually requiring annual registration.They are often professional bodies acting to protect the group they represent. For PSWS, this includes developing, maintaining and upholding Scopes of Practice, Standards of Care and a Code of Ethics specifically for PSWs. Accountability and professionalism is expected of  its members. Development of continuing education, a resource centre and an information source are several of the deliverables for members. Associations can engage in issues between employees and employers that are not part of the binding contract by working as a third party alongside not only the employee and employer,  but also with the labour board and any other committees associated with the employment.
Associations play an important role for self employed PSWs providing care to clients.  Associations can offer access to liability insurance at a savings to members. Self-employed PSWs have support from a professional organization in the work field and members will be recognized as belonging to a larger body
Having a breakdown of the two entities and understanding the different roles for each and the benefits of being a member of an association   should help with understanding the need for professional support.
The most frequently asked question I get is,  Can I be a member of an association while I am a member of a Union?”  The answer to that golden question is absolutely, actually it is highly recommended that regardless of being in a union or not, a PSW should be a member of an association.
So remember, as a PSW delivering care in all environments stay informed,  practice within your scope to provide safety for yourself and the people you care for.
When you decide to join an Association just remember “We have your Back”.

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