Kate Brofenbrenner of Cornell’s Industrial Relations School has released her new study of employer responses to union organizing campaign. Jeff Hirsch of the American Workplace Law Prof blog has done a nice summary of the report, so I will just link to his post, where you can find the study, as well as an executive summary of her findings. Note that she finds that 34% of employers dismissed employees and 57% threatened to close the workplace and fire the employees if the union was successful. With these sorts of numbers, the credibility of American employers is severely strained when they argue that all they want is a ‘fair vote’ in union elections, don’t you think?
Several Canadian academics have conducted similar sorts of studies on Canadian employer responses to union activity. Here is a paper by Karen Bentham of the University of Toronto (a published version appears as, “The Incidence and Impacts of Employer Opposition to Union Certification: A Study of Eight
Canadian Jurisdictions.” (2002) Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations. Vol. 57, No. 1. pp. 160-188). Here is another paper that touches on the subject, by Chris Riddell of Queens. These studies appear to indicate that Canadian-based employers have not behaved as poorly as American employers (in terms of breaking the law). Some academics argue that this has much to do with the fact that the Canadian model of union recognition simply gives employers less opportunity to engage in the sort of anti-union activities their U.S. counterparts prefer (when we have had a card-check model and even now with the ‘fast-vote’ model in place in much of Canada), and because the punishment for doing so is harsher here (remedial certification). What do you think of that explanation?
These are arguments used right now in the U.S. in favour of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would move the Americans towards the ‘Canadian’ model.
Other studies exploring Canada include:
Thomason, Terry and Silvana Pozzebon (1998) ‘Managerial Opposition to union certification in
Quebec and Ontario.’ Industrial Relations/Relations Industrielles, 53(4), pp.750-69.
Riddell, Chris (2001) ‘Union suppression and certification success.’ Canadian Journal of
Economics, 34(2), pp.396-410
Charlotte Yates & F. Martinello, “Union and Employer Tactics In Ontario Organizing Campaigns” in Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, Vol. 13, edited by David Lewin and Bruce Kaufman, (New York: Elsevier) 2004, pp. 157-190.