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Chapter 9

CHAPTER 9-Understanding Labour-Management Relations

Rotman Commerce
Course Code
Michael Szlachta

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Why do workers unionize?
- labour union = group of individuals working together to achieve job related goals (ie higher pay,
shorter hours, job security, more benefits, better working conditions)
- labour relations describes the process of dealing with employees who are represented by a
- labour movement was born with the industrial revolution which gave birth to job specialization,
mass production
- workers became more dependent on their factory jobs and werent treated well
- the unions forced management to listen to the complaints of all their workers instead of just the
few who were brave enough to speak up.
- the power of unions comes from collective action
- collective bargaining is the process through which union leaders and managers negotiate
common terms and conditions of employment for the workers represented by unions
The development of Canadian labour unions
- unions started in the maritime provinces in the early 19th century, mostly from people who had a
specific craft (ie a shoemaker)
- first national labour organization - the canadian labour union which matured with the formation
of the Trades and labour congress (TLC). Purpose of the TLC was to unite all labour
organizations and to work for the passage of laws that would ensure the well being of the working
- in the 20th century, the concept of organized labour became accepted
- disputes between the Canadian Federation of Labour and US unions led to the creation of rival
union organizations that competed for membership
- by 1956, there were 2 unions - the trades and labour congress and the canadian congress of
labour ± that merged to form the canadian labour congress
Trends in union membership
- lately its been difficult for unions to attract new members.
- union membership as a proportion of the total workforce has slowed down
- now women represent about half of all union workers.
- union movement is more successful in canada than in the US
- recently, unions have encountered increasing opposition from management of companies that
are trying to survive in a competitive global environment
Reasons for declining union membership:
COMPOSITION OF THE WORKFORCE: the workforce today has more women and ethnic
minorities, who are less likely to join unions when they enter the workforce.
ANTI UNIONIZATION ACTIVITES: more aggressive anti unionazation activity on the part of
- federal and provincial labour legislation restricts what management of a company can do to
keep out of a union, but companies are free to pursue certain strategies to minimize unionization
(ie creating more of a employee friendly environment)
- more job security, higher wages and a work environment in which employees are allowed to be
active is geared at being anti unionist
Trends in union management relations
- mostly in the auto and steel industries, labour unions are strong.
- in most sectors, unions are in a weak position so most have taken more of conciliatory stances
in their relations with management
- unions recognize that they dont have as much power and its in their best interests to work with
management, not against it

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Trends in Bargaining Perspectives
- most union management bargaining situations used to be about demands for increase in
wages/salaries and increased benefits
- now unions tend to argue about job security (most companies now try to save money by moving
jobs to other countries where they dont have to pay as much to their employees, so unions try to
get their members job security)
- a current trend in unions is improved pension programs for employees
The Future of Unions
- labour organizations can disrupt the economy by refusing to work
- now, better pay, working hours and safer working conditions is something that everyone gets
including non unionized employees.
- some challenges that face unions:
x GHFOLQHRI³VPRNHVWDFN´LQGXVtries (union power is strong in these industries)
x employment growth in service industries (union power is not strong)
x deregulation (mergers and layoffs and formation of non unionized companies)
x free trade and globalization of business = jobs being moved to areas of the world with
lower labour costs
x technological changed
- goal is to create effective relationships with managers and workers who have the same goals -
profitability, growth, effectiveness, rewards for everyone
Legal environment for unions in canada
- the employer-employee relationship used to be strictly one-one => employer had most of the
power. Firms have since grown and managers themselves were employees. Big businesses had
more power than workers so laws were passed to place the worker at par with the employer
- industrial disputes investigation act = provided a compulsory investigation of labour disputes by
a government appointed board before a strike was allowed. SInce 1907 when it was formed, its
been banished (violated the BNA)
- Privy council order 1003 = recognized the right of employees to bargain collectively (prohibited
unfair labour practices from management, established a labour board to certify bargaining
authority and prohibited strikes and lockouts except in the course of negotiating collective
- constitution act = divided authority over labour regulations between federal and provincial
governments. Companies operated interprovincially had certain regulation by federal law and
individual provinces had general labour rules)
Federal Legislation - the Canada Labour Code
- Canada labour code = legislation that applies to the labour practices of firms operating under
the legislative
authority of parliament. It has four sections:
1) Fair employment practices : prohibits an employer from refusing employment on the basis of a
persons race or region or using an employment agency that discriminates against people on the
same basis.
- these laws apply to trade unions but not to non profit/charitable organizations
- anyone who thinks a violation has occurred will write to Labour Canada
2) Standard Hours, Wages, Vacations, and Holidays: this is for non managerial workers and
deals with issues like standard hours of work and max. hours of work per work, minimum wages,
equal wages for men and women. The specific provisions are often changed to account for
changes in the economic and social structure of Canada. The goal is to ensure consistent
treatment of employees
3) safety of employees: every person running a federal work project must do so in a way that
wont endanger the health or safety of any employee.
- employees must exercise care to ensure their own safety
- a safety officier has the right to enter any federal project at any reasonable time
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