Canadian Manufacturing

Albertans say unions need more financial disclosure: survey

63 per cent of Albertans say paying union dues should be voluntary, not mandatory

EDMONTON—Albertans strongly support increased transparency in union financial disclosure, according to a new survey.

Conducted by Leger Marketing for the Merit Contractors Association, the survey found close to nine out of 10 Albertans support the motion brought forward by Bill C-377, which is currently before the House of Commons.

“With related legislation pending in Ottawa … we wanted to know what working Albertans think about the current relevance of unions,” Merit Contractors Association president Stephen Kushner said in a statement.

Almost eight of 10 unionized workers believe it should be mandatory for all unions to publicly disclose their finances.

According to the survey, 94 per cent also believe that workers should have access to union financial information during a unionization drive.

Most Albertans (63 per cent) believe paying union dues should be voluntary and not a mandatory condition of employment, and more than seven of 10 believe core union activities should be supported but that employees should be allowed to opt-in or out of supporting non-core activities such as contributing to political parties and social causes unrelated to their workplace.

Only 19 per cent of those polled, including only 28 per cent of unionized workers, support dues being used to finance political parties, the survey found.

Few workers also believe union dues should be used to fund third party advocacy groups (18 per cent), such as Friends of Medicare, or to run negative advertising campaigns (15 per cent).

According to Kushner, the survey results are consistent with previous Canada-wide surveys conducted by the Canadian Labour Watch Association in 2008 and 2011.

“These survey results indicate Alberta workers support proposed measures to provide more transparency and financial disclosure and have greater individual choice in supporting or not supporting union activities,” Kushner said.

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