“Organizing the Unorganized” Revisited

Concomitant with the expansion of the service sector as an increasingly large component of the Canadian economy, has been a growth in service related employment. In fact, 90% of new jobs since 1967 have been located in the service sector (Economic Council of Canada, 1990). Service sector employment, typified by nonstandard work forms, growing use of computerization and a pronounced segmentation between “good jobs and bad jobs” places a growing number of Canadian workers, many of whom are women, in an increasingly insecure financial and occupational position. Examination of the Canadian banking industry, a significant employer within the service sector, reveals that these general trends also apply specifically to the financial sector. In wake of the growing use of computerization, spurred on by competition, the employee relations climate in Canadian banks is characterized by employment restructuring emphasizing the use of part-time and temporary labour, comparatively poor average rates of compensation and extreme occupational segregation based on sex.

Despite circumstances which would seem to demand collective action, unionization in Canadian banks has met with limited success. While the organizational strategies of Canadian unions and such service sector features as the disparate location of tiny groups of employees, may provide a partial answer to this lack of success, the work of Lennon (1980) documents the effects of legislative inefficacy in dealing with a virtually unprecedented bank campaign against unionization. Indeed, examination of the case law subsequent to Lennon’s 1980 analysis demonstrates a continued inability (or unwillingness) across the labour relations boards of Ontario and Canada to deal consistently and effectively with the power imbalance created by the concerted campaign of the Canadian banks against the attempts of their employees to achieve collective representation.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the jurisprudence surrounding unionization attempts in the Canadian chartered banks (supplemented by decisions of the Ontario Labour Relations Board dealing with trust companies and credit unions) and to analyze the efficacy of legislation in dealing with the intransigence of the banking counter-campaign in order to identify possible areas for resolution of the barriers to collective representation for bank and other service sector workers. Prior to examination of the jurisprudence, the paper focuses on the nature of employment in the banking sector in order to provide a contextual framework for analysis of the efficacy of labour board decisions.

Download PDF: “Organizing the Unorganized” Revisited

Employment Relations in the Unionized Labor Movement: A Comparative Analysis of Arbitration Cases in Ontario, 1971 to 1985

The institution of collective bargaining, central to public policy with respect to employment relations, requires a well functioning labour movement. There is evidence that labour organizations in the role of employer are subject to labour conflict which, if unresolved, threatens the collective bargaining regime. The survival of the movement is at risk in terms of its principles, credibility, and effectiveness as protector of the interests of the worker and promoter of social reform.

Despite its significance, there is little research into this critical employment relationship.

The present study outlines some external and internal pressures to which the movement is subject, and which are likely to translate into workplace tensions affecting the quality of the relationship. Many of them tend toward bureaucratization of union administration, a trend with both beneficial and deleterious potential. A tentative comparison is drawn with other work settings.

Arbitrations in the unionized union sector are compared with those in a sample of other settings in the province of Ontario from 1971 to 1985. The distributions of issues and outcomes for the two samples are presented and discussed. A review of cases on five major issues explores differences in the nature of the disputes.

Results suggest that arbitrations between unions and their employees account for a disproportionate number of cases, and include a higher ratio of procedural to substantive hearings than is generally found. The rate of occurrence of some issues as a percentage of total listings may be lower than for other employer-employee relationships. Both similarities and differences emerge from the descriptive review of cases. Numerical and qualitative differences found may be attributable to non-comparable occupations and working conditions between the samples.

Further research is recommended.

Download PDF: Employment Relations in the Unionized Labor Movement: A Comparative Analysis of Arbitration Cases in Ontario, 1971 to 1985

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Learn more about the collection, use and disclosure of personal information at Queen’s University.