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The Effect of Labour Relations Laws on Union Density Rates: Evidence from Canadian Provinces

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  • Scott Legree, Tammy Schirle, Mikal Skuterud

    () (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Abstract

We provide evidence on the potential for reforms in labour law to reverse deunionization trends by relating an index of the favorability to unions of Canadian provincial labour relations statutes to changes in provincial union density rates between 1981 and 2012. The results suggest that shifting every province’s 2012 legal regime to the most union-friendly possible could raise the national union density by up to 7 percentage points in the long run. This effect appears driven by regulations related to the certification of new bargaining units, the negotiation of first contracts and the recruitment of replacement workers. The effects of reform are largest for women, particularly university-educated women employed as professionals in public services. Overall, the results suggest a limited potential for labour relations reforms to address growing concerns about labour market inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott Legree, Tammy Schirle, Mikal Skuterud, 2014. "The Effect of Labour Relations Laws on Union Density Rates: Evidence from Canadian Provinces," LCERPA Working Papers 0078, Laurier Centre for Economic Research and Policy Analysis, revised 08 Sep 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:wlu:lcerpa:0078
    Note: LCERPA Working Paper No. 2014-12.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Beck, Nathaniel & Katz, Jonathan N., "undated". "Modeling dynamics in time-series-cross-section political economy data," Working Papers 1304, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    2. W. Craig Riddell, 1993. "Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 109-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Timothy J. Bartkiw, 2008. "Manufacturing Descent? Labour Law and Union Organizing in the Province of Ontario," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(1), pages 111-132, March.
    4. Susan J. T. Johnson, 2010. "First Contract Arbitration: Effects on Bargaining and Work Stoppages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(4), pages 585-605, July.
    5. John H. Pencavel, 1971. "The Demand for Union Services: An Exercise," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 24(2), pages 180-190, January.
    6. Richard Freeman & Jeffrey Pelletier, 1990. "The Impact of Industrial Relations Legislation on British Union Density," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 28(2), pages 141-164, July.
    7. Susan Johnson, 2002. "Card Check or Mandatory Representation Vote? How the Type of Union Recognition Procedure Affects Union Certification Success," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 344-361, April.
    8. Peter Kuhn, 1998. "Innis Lecture: Unions and the Economy: What We Know; What We Should Know," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(5), pages 1033-1056, November.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Unions; labour relations; Canada;

    JEL classification:

    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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