Saskatchewan’s Bill 80 step in right direction (Guest commentary)

Move to give construction workers ability to choose unions benefits almost all
By Chris Bosch
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/03/2010

Some of us may be surprised to hear the government of Saskatchewan is finally legislating the right of construction workers to choose the labour union of their choice. Today, construction workers in Saskatchewan are only permitted to join a slate of American-based craft unions — other all-Canadian construction unions are not permitted, by law, to represent these workers.

“But that’s ridiculous,” some might say. After all, we live in a country that gives preferential treatment to citizen choice. It’s enshrined in the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, United Nations’ treaties and is the very definition of the liberalism Canadians enjoy. However, it’s true. The laws of Saskatchewan require any worker in the construction industry to choose between non-union and American craft-based unions if they want access to work.

The government of Saskatchewan should be commended for taking steps to introduce labour pluralism through Bill 80, an act to amend its labour code. Making the case in support of this legislation is easy when you consider the principle of freedom of association is well-entrenched in international and national law.