Thursday, January 24, 2013

Canada: Better labor laws, 30% union density

Source: Bloomberg News
More workers want to join unions now more than any time since the 1980s -- but in the United States, bad labor laws (such as the No Rights At Work laws that just passed in Michigan) make it hard.

In Canada, better labor laws allow union density to remain stable for years. Bloomberg News reports,
First, Canadian law is simply far more hospitable to unions. Several provinces have bans on temporary or permanent striker replacement, which don’t exist in the U.S. And there is no Canadian equivalent of the “right-to-work” laws that have been enacted in 24 U.S. states, which prohibit unions and employers from requiring employees covered by union contracts to pay for representation. 
A second distinction is the manner in which Canada enables unions to be formed. In the U.S., most private-sector workers who wish to unionize must sign authorization cards, petition the National Labor Relations Board and then vote in an election. The time between the petition and the election often stretches to months, and sometimes for longer than a year. In Canada, the process is relatively quick. Card-check authorization, which is used in almost half of Canadian provinces, allows a majority of employees to form a union at their workplace simply by signing cards stating that they would like to do so...
Bloomberg also notes Canadian officials deal with illegal interference in union drives much faster than they do in the U.S. And Canada has first-contract arbitration, which encourages both sides to quickly negotiate a first contract.

The Employee Free Choice Act would have aligned U.S. labor law more closely with Canada. Sadly, a minority of U.S. senators filibustered the bill in 2009. Sadder still, efforts to reform the filibuster came up short today.

Politico reports,
Senate leaders agreed Thursday on a grand deal to reform filibusters that does little to end the practices that got the filibuster reform movement started in the first place: the ability of individual senators to block legislation or nominations and force the majority party to find 60 votes to get anything done.