Reject Comparisons Between Canada and Europe on Union Dues

Canada has a very unique history when it comes to the development of our labour laws.

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Many anti-union commentators suggest that Canada should reject the Rand Formula because other countries do not have automatic dues check-off for everyone covered by a collective agreement. However, while it is true that Canada has a unique system of dues collection when it comes to the application of the Rand Formula (dues check-off), that is not the whole story.

Other countries have their own way of funding unions. In many countries in Europe, unions get direct funding from the government or have separate funds and laws outlining the application of collective agreements.

Europe and Australia have sector-wide agreements that protect a much higher percentage of workers than are members of a union. In European countries like France, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, etc. between 7.6 (France) and 35% (Italy) can be members of a union, but their collective agreements cover between 80% and 90% of workers.

Jim Stanford reminds us that:

  • Germany has legal requirements for companies above a certain size to establish a worker council, have worker reps on the board of directors and bargain collectively. - France has legal requirements for collective bargaining in all companies above a certain size (which is why they have 90% contract coverage with only 10% union membership). - Scandinavian laws dictate that administration of employment insurance, pensions, and other benefit schemes are to be conducted through unions. - For the EU, companies operating in more than one country also have to create worker councils and have regular structures for collective bargaining and worker representation in the workplace. - Australia has sector-wide minimum collective agreements that impose minimum wages and conditions by sector including in hard-to-organize sectors like retail and hospitality.