Union membership rises in first half of 2010

Number of strikes, lockouts lowest on record: Statistics Canada
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 11/05/2010

Union membership rose at a slightly faster pace than employment in Canada in the first half of 2010, according to Statistics Canada. About 4.2 million employees belonged to a union in Canada, up 64,000 from the same period last year, meaning the unionization rate edged up from 29.5 per cent in 2009 to 29.6 per cent in 2010.

The average number of paid employees during the first half of 2010 reached 14.3 million, up by 171,000 over the same period last year, according to "Unionization 2010" in the October 2010 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, Vol. 11, no. 10.

In 2009, there were 157 strikes or lockouts with a loss in working time of at least 10 person-days. This was the second lowest number on record. At the same time, 67,000 workers were involved in these strikes or lockouts, and about 2.2 million person-days in working time were lost — the highest number of days lost since 2005, said Statistics Canada.

Gender differences

The gap in unionization rates between men and women widened slightly in 2010. Since women had disproportionately more gains in unionized jobs, their unionization rate inched up to 30.9 per cent, while the rate for men remained constant at 28.2 per cent, found Statistics Canada. About 2.2 million women belonged to a union in 2010, compared to two million men.

The unionization rate for permanent employees increased to 30 per cent between 2009 and 2010, while it decreased to 27.3 per cent for those in non-permanent jobs. The rate rose in larger firms (100 employees or more), declined among those with 20 to 99 employees and remained constant for firms with fewer than 20 employees.

Variations across provinces, industries

In looking at the provinces, unionization rates fell in four provinces: Nova Scotia, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The largest rate gains occurred in British Columbia, while the rate was highest in Newfoundland and Labrador (37.9 per cent), found Statistics Canada.

Among industries, rates were highest in public administration (68.5 per cent) and education (67.0 per cent). Notable declines occurred in agriculture, health care and social assistance, and education. Notable increases occurred in transportation and warehousing, and public administration.

About 288,000 employees were not union members, but were covered by a collective agreement in the first half of 2010, down from last year's total of 300,000, said Statistics Canada.

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