For Future Union Survival, Look To The Canadian Label
Unionization rates have been dropping in both countries, but unlike the US, where anti-union employers hold sway, Canada has instituted laws and guidelines designed to protect and preserve the right to unionize.
Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), reports on his organization’s recent study comparing unionization trends in the United States and Canada over the past century. Although membership has dropped in both countries over the last 20 years, close to one in three of Canada’s workers belong to unions, which far surpasses the US’ rate of one in ten. The study suggests that several key institutional factors play a big role in the continued survival of Canada’s unions.
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What’s the Big Idea?
In several provinces, unionization is made easier by the allowance of majority sign-up recognition (in which workers sign cards stating they want to be union members) and first contract arbitration (in which a third party can step in and settle bogged-down contract disputes). Also, the study found no evidence to support one claim commonly made by anti-union supporters: that decertifications would increase as a result of majority sign-up (due to union members feeling pressured to join). In Baker’s opinion, “[I]f we chose, we could make US labor law closer to Canada’s…People who care about inequality should have this at the top of their agenda.”