“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.

Unions and Contemporary Innovations in Work Organization, Compensation, and Employee Participation

The 1980s have been a decade of experimentation in work organization, compensation systems, and labor-management relations. These experiments represent efforts to increase productivity and improve firm financial performance. Many of these innovations seek to tap worker knowledge and energy in the service of these goals.

It is the purpose of this paper to describe the nature of these efforts, and to document their growth and significance in both the union and nonunion sectors. In doing so, we make the case that on balance U.S. unions have not been hindrances to innovations in the management of human resources, but in the 1980s have facilitated the implementation and healthy functioning of such programs. It’s not that changes in work organization or compensation are always appropriate or desirable; elsewhere we discuss why workers and their labor organizations have sometimes opposed programs which undermined collective bargaining, excessively speeded-up production, or were otherwise detrimental (Eaton and Voos 1989). It appears from the evidence discussed here, however, that such opposition has not resulted in a significantly lower quantity of innovation in the union sector, but instead shaped programs to meet worker as well as corporate goals.

We also argue that contemporary union support for innovative work practices is consistent with a long tradition of productivity bargaining in this country in which unions have agreed to productivity enhancing technologies and methods while protecting the economic security of members. Traditional union protections lay the groundwork for more extensive forms of genuine participation with a greater potential for improved work methods and increased productivity.

The Rise of Industrial Unionism in Canada – A History of the CIO

This paper was written from the perspective of Don Taylor, who was able to work in every part of Canada with union people – both leaders and members – many of whom had been involved in the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) from its beginnings in this country. He felt that there were too few written memoirs of the experiences of those whose deeds didn’t conform to accepted heroic traditions or dramatic conventions, but who enjoyed the great priviledge of working for a good cause in pursuit of noble principles.

This monograph relies upon sound historical sources for verification of facts and events. It attempts, as well, to capture something of the evangelical spirit which propelled this grass roots movement and enabled it to accomplish so many unprecedented improvements in the status of working people.

Industrial Relations in the 1980s: Issues and Implications

The papers in this volume reflect these diverse and contradictory trends and patterns in Canadian industrial relations in the 1980s in the face of what some observers believe is “a fundamentally altered economic and public policy environment.” These papers were presented at a symposium held at Queen’s University on November 21, 1987, to mark the 50th anniversary of industrial relations programs at Queen’s University. The purpose of the symposium, chaired by the Honourable Senator Carl Goldenberg, was to assess the state of industrial relations in the 1980s and to determine whether recent developments signal a fundamental change in Canadian industrial relations, as some commentators have argued.

The volume was edited by Pradeep Kumar, and includes:

  • Introduction and Summary – By Pradeep Kumar
  • Labour Relations at General Motors of Canada – By Fred Curd Jr.
  • Union Approaches and Responses in the 1980s – By Sam Gindin
  • Flexibility: The Critical Issue in Industrial Relations – By Harold Giles
  • Breakdown of Public Sector Collective Bargaining – By John Fryer
  • Industrial Relations in the 1980s: A Mix of Adversarialism and Cooperation – By John T. Dunlop

Organized Labour in Canada and the United States: Similarities and Differences

This paper was presented at the 36th Annual Conference of the Association of Labor Relations Agencies, held in Albany, New York, July 26-31, 1987.

Labour movements in Canada and the United States have much in common and close historical ties. They are bound together by a common continental heritage, interdependent product and labour markets, and a similar labour relations framework in the two countries. International unions, with predominant membership and head offices in the United States, are an integral part of the Canadian labour movement. Unions in the two countries share common goals and beliefs, have similar functions and organizational structures, and have been fighting in recent years an uphill battle for legitimacy in face of a hostile and challenging economic, social, political, and technological environment.

Two Tier Wage Systems

The purpose of this paper is to examine in more detail the nature and scope of two-tier wage systems in a Canadian context. The plan of the paper is as follows: first, it will examine the form which two-tier settlements have taken and provide some data on their prevalence. Second, it will examine possible legal implications of two-tier agreements, and in particular, whether a union which agrees to a lower wage rate for new hires risks violating its duty of fair representation. The final section assesses the long-term viability of two-tier wage systems.

Settlement Methods in Ontario Collective Bargaining 1970-1973

The state of labour-management relations often tends to be assessed in terms of the number of strikes which occurs in the economy or in particular industries. This ignores the fact that strikes are in part a function of the number of settlements that are negotiated, which varies from year to year and from industry to industry, and the further fact that work stoppages are only one of several routes by which settlements occur. The range includes direct bargaining, conciliation, mediation, bargaining following conciliation or mediation, work stoppages, and occasionally mediation or arbitration following a work stoppage. Strains in collective bargaining, therefore, should be assessed in terms of the ease or difficulty with which settlements are achieved, as reflected in the incidence of different settlement methods.

This paper analyzes the methods by which settlements were arrived at in more than 1400 Ontario collective agreements during the years 1970-1973 and discusses some of the implications of these patterns. The analysis is based on information published jointly by the Federal and Ontario Departments of Labour, covering settlements involving more than 250 employees in industries other than construction. Included are settlements in federal administration, as well as a number of other settlements which, though they cover workers in Ontario, are in industries that come within the federal jurisdiction.

The Road Ahead in Industrial Relations

This is a reprint of the closing keynote address presented at the special one-week Industrial Relations Seminar of the Industrial Relations Centre, Queen’s University on October 22-27, 1972. The author is Judge, District Court, District of Parry Sound and Chairman, Ontario Labour-Management Arbitration Commission. Judge Little is well known for his valuable contributions as chairman of arbitration boards and as a member of various public bodies in the field of Canadian industrial relations. He is also a member of the University Council and the Board of Trustees of Queen’s University.


It is my intention to discuss with you the industrial relations situation in Canada today; to relate it to what has occurred in the past; to consider the new environment for the seventies; to visualize emerging issues, problems and opportunities; and to suggest imperatives for labour, management and government if the challenges before us are to be met. In asking me to deal with these matters, those arranging this seminar are placing me in the dual role of a prophet and the solver of problems. As one who has always endeavoured in his role as conciliator or mediator to take a realistic and pragmatic approach to the immediate solution of specific labour-management disputes, I seriously doubt if I am qualified either to play the role of prophet or to offer general solutions. It seems to me that it is almost impossible to predict what will happen in this field because one’s predictions are subject to so many variables. Most of you know what these variables are. Suffice it to say, that when jurisdiction is divided amongst eleven different governments, of several political persuasions, and divergent views on how such problems should be tackled and solved, it is impossible to say what each will propose, and finally do. Irrespective of these differences in viewpoint however, it is becoming increasingly obvious in industrial relations, as in other areas of difference in this country, that our future as a nation depends on a greater degree of co-operation by government, labour and management if a realistic approach to solving such problems is to be made. Perhaps we can stimulate our thinking along these lines today.

Gender Differences in Union Membership Status: The Role of Labour Market Segmentation

The purpose of this paper is to study the key determinants of the union status of workers in Canada and to evaluate the relative significance of labour market segmentation by gender, in explaining the lower incidence of unionization among Canadian women. Using a unique micro data set, this study assesses the respective roles of demographic/human capital factors and the industry-occupation of employment in explaining gender differences in union membership in Canada. First, a union status probability equation is estimated on a pooled sample using explanatory variables such as age, sex, marital status, education, job tenure, province of residence, part-time/full-time status of the worker, and industry and occupation of employment, on the assumption that only intercept coefficients differ between men and women. Following this, separate equations are estimated for males and females allowing for differences in slope coefficients. Next, we estimate three separate union membership status equations based on the pooled sample of individuals of both sexes. The first equation contains only demographic/human capital factors as explanatory variables. The second equation adds controls for occupation of the individual to the demographic/human capital vector of variables. Finally, the equation is augmented with controls for industry of employment. The estimated coefficient on the sex variable in the three equations is compared to evaluate the role of industry and occupation of employment in explaining the differential in the extent of unionization between men and women. As well, the likelihood ratio tests are performed to test the joint significance of industry, occupation and human capital/demographic variables as predictors of union membership.

The Development and Enforcement of the Collective Agreement

The collective agreement is the basic corner-stone of collective bargaining in North America. From its beginning the problem of making the provisions of collective agreements binding on the parties who entered into them has been a major concern of unions, employers, employees and increasingly of public authorities. This volume, one of the Centre’s Research Series, traces in depth the historical development of procedures in Canada for the enforcement of collective agreement provisions. The main emphasis is upon those methods developed by Canadian legislatures to provide orderly means of enforcement and thus contribute to a greater stability of union-management relations.

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