VANCOUVER—Though new federal legislation improves union accountability, unionized workers in Canada’s private sector still lack options when joining and financially supporting a union, a new Fraser Institute report says.
“Governments could give workers a true reason to celebrate Labour Day by enacting worker choice legislation that would empower workers, ensuring they can decide for themselves if they want to join and financially support a union,” Charles Lammam, co-author of the report and director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute, said.
Currently, workers can be forced to become union members and pay union dues as a condition of employment, the report notes. It also points to recent Royal Assent given to Bill C-377, which is federal legislation that requires Canada’s labour organizations to publicly disclose basic financial information and details on how much money and time is spent on political and social causes.
“While the new law makes it easier for workers and interested third parties to learn how unions spend membership dues, Canadian workers can still be forced to join a union and pay full dues even if they disagree with the causes that unions spend resources on,” the report says.
In contrast, laws allowing workers to opt-out of paying full union dues are on the books in 25 of 50 U.S. states, while the other half require workers to pay partial dues. Furthermore, all states allow workers to opt-out of union membership. The Fraser Institute noted unionization rates are lower in states where workers have more choice – 4.7 in non-Right-to-Work states, compared to 9.6 per cent in Right-to-Work regions. In Canada the rate is 16.8 per cent.
“Worker choice laws don’t prevent unionization but they empower workers by giving them a choice,” Lammam said.
The report also found union leadership is more accountable and responsive in regions workers are given more choice.
“When union membership and dues aren’t mandatory, unions must convince workers of the merits of unionization and the value of paying union dues,” Lammam said.
“Increasing worker choice not only empowers workers and encourages unions to not take the financial support of their members for granted, the research also points to an association between worker choice laws and stronger economies,” he added.