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Society member survey shows support for SEP, room for growth

November 6, 2017

Society members generally have a very positive view of their union, a survey conducted by Environics showed. However, members also reported that there are areas in which The Society can improve.

The Society engaged Environics Research to conduct a survey of members in order to better understand the attitude and opinions of its members. The survey was completed by 1,020 current and retired members. The last time The Society undertook such a survey was 2014.

The survey showed that members overwhelmingly (88%) have a favourable opinion of The Society. It also reported that 81% were satisfied with the representation that they receive from The Society. In addition, members showed favourable attitudes towards unions in general (81%).

In light of the strongly positive attitude toward the union it is unsurprising that 82% of respondents would recommend The Society to another professional. 80% believe that they can trust The Society, 78% believe that the union understands the unique needs of their jobs, 76% feel that they can depend on The Society settle issues with their employer, and 73% feel that they get good value for the dues they pay.

Responses to member inquiries remains a very positive area. Members showed high satisfaction with being able to reach a union contact (85%), the manner with which the call was handled (77%), the contact’s ability to understand the concern (78%), and the understanding of the member’s contract (78%).

When it comes to advocacy and engagement there is room to grow. While 71% of members say that The Society is a strong advocate for social issues that they care about, only 58% believe that The Society has a major influence on public policy that affects them. With 94% of respondents saying that The Society should be trying to influence public policy it is clear that the membership wants to see their union be more politically active.

Which issues do members want to see The Society focus its energy? Most want to see the protection of benefits and pensions prioritized, then job security, increasing pay, and opportunities for promotion.

When it comes to actively courting participation in union activities a majority of members have been approached in some form in the recent past, but there remains room for greater engagement. While 74% had at some point received literature on a union-related matter, only 56% had been asked to participate in a volunteer union activity in the last six months. With 73% of respondents asserting a willingness to undertake volunteer activities, this is an area of growth potential for the union.

When considering the ideal characteristics of a union the most common responses were that a union should be ‘fair’, ‘strong’ and ‘supportive’. When asked about which words they associate with The Society the most common association was ‘professional’, ‘approachable’, ‘helpful’, ‘effective’, ‘progressive’, and ‘caring’.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to exist in Society members’ workplaces. 3% of members report experiencing sexual harassment at work. This number rises to 10% among women. Fifteen percent of respondents reported experiencing discrimination in some form in their workplaces. Among equity groups this number rises to more than 1-in-4. The most common forms of reported discrimination were based on gender (41%), age (40%), ethnic or cultural background (24%), and race (17%). This remains an area of concern for The Society and we will be undertaking further efforts to address harassment and discrimination in Society workplaces.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly described members’ opinion of labour unions in general.

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