Union membership on the rise

Private sector service workers main area of union growth
By Lorna Harris
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/22/2007

There were about 60,000 more unionized workers in Canada as of Jan. 1, 2006, compared to the year before, according to Statistic Canada’s annual survey on union membership. This represents about 30.8 per cent of the total number of workers in non-agricultural paid employment (or 25.6 per cent of the total civilian labour force).

This figure is a slight increase over the 30.7 per cent (or 25.5 per cent of the total civilian workforce) reported for 2005. About 20 per cent of employees in the private sector belong to a union as compared to close to 80 per cent in the public sphere.

Statistics Canada has conducted an annual survey on union membership — also known as union density — as far back as 1990 by compiling data provided by unions and labour organizations. Since then, the highest ratio of union membership among non-agricultural workers was 36.1 per cent, reached in 1994, while the highest ratio of union membership in the civilian labour force as a whole was 28.7 per cent, as reported for 1990.