Labour Studies Index

Protecting Concerted Action outside the Union Context

Document type Article
Author Archer, Simon
Author Rogers, Brishen
Journal Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal
Volume 20
Date 2017
Pages 141-174

Abstract

Canada's labour laws do not adequately protect non-union forms of concerted action - a problematic gap in the legislation, given the increase in alternative models of collective organizing. This article proposes the adoption in Canada of broader protections similar to those found in the United States, where section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act extends protection to concerted action by employees regardless of whether they are unionized or even seeking to unionize. Beginning with a comparison of the current legislative schemes in the two countries, the authors argue that because the limitations to concerted action in Canadian labour law are similar to those in the U.S., the proposal is unlikely to disturb settled law beyond its intent. The positive impacts of adopting section 7-like protection in Canada are canvassed, which include encouraging stronger employee "voice," allowing for increased realization of the constitutional guar- antee of freedom of association, and enabling experimentation with non-union forms of collective representation. These changes would help to balance work- place power dynamics, and allow workers more flexibility in choosing how to advocate for themselves.