Joining a Trades Union

Thinking about joining a Trades Union? Below are just a few of the reasons why over 11,000 of Nova Scotia’s Industrial-Commercial-Institutional construction workers have made the decision. 

Better Wages

On average, unionized workers in Canada earn $5.28/hour more than non-union employees*. More specifically for Halifax, unionized workers on average, earned $6.43/hour more than their non-union counterparts. This translated into an extra $29.4 million every week paid into our local economy to support local businesses and community services.

*Canadian Labour Congress

Stability and Security

In the construction industry, you don’t always know where your next job will be, and what kind of pay and benefits you will have when you get there. As a union construction worker, the pay, benefits and working conditions in your union contract are guaranteed and you carry them with you from job to job.

Health Benefits

Union construction workers have extended health and welfare benefits provided by their contract, and these benefits cover their families too. Although non-union employers can offer benefit plans, in general unionized workers have a wider range of health benefits. Benefits can vary among unions, but plans can include: dental, prescription drugs, chiropractic and more. When you’re in a union, your health benefits are portable, meaning coverage follows you from job to job.

Safety, Training and Advancement Opportunities

Building Trades Unions are by far the most important players in helping you acquire and upgrade your skills. Apprentices get paid while learning basic skills. Advanced training allows you to upgrade your skills and keep up with technological change. In Nova Scotia, the Building Trades, in partnership with our contractors, spend approximately $7 million annually on training.

Retirement Security

Union construction workers have collectively-bargained pensions. Fully portable, multi-employer plans controlled by union and employer representatives, means union construction workers accrue benefits on every job.

Respect and Partnership at Work

Being part of a union means that you have a say in decisions on the job, your views and skills are respected and you work with your co-workers to solve problems. You are provided with what you need to get the job done right…the first time!


Because they are negotiated by and for everyone on the job, union contracts emphasize equality and fair treatment. These contracts provide a written set of rules that applies to everyone (on every job) eliminating favoritism and discrimination and guaranteeing that no one can be unfairly or arbitrarily disciplined or dismissed. Furthermore, unions are equal opportunity, they encourage participation from women and minority groups. Everyone receives the same pay regardless of gender, race, age, class or origin.

For more information about joining a Trades Union, check out our Affiliated Unions page for contact information for each of the respective trades.

Interested in Joining?

If you are interested in joining a Building Trades Union, please visit our Affiliated Unions page where you will find contact information for each trades’ Business Manager.

Myths and facts about the trades