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Other Kinds of Collective Organization in the Workplace

As our indicator on union density shows, roughly one third of Canadian employees belong to a union or are covered by a collective agreement. However, unions are not the only form of collective representation of workers in the Canadian labour market. Many Canadian workers belong to professional or staff associations, and sometimes they belong to several of these groups at the same time. Membership in such organizations may provide employees with resources to negotiate an employment contract and to improve their job quality.


One In Two Employees Belong To Some Kind of Labour Organization 

Source: CPRN - EKOS Changing Employment Relationships Survey (2000).

According to the CPRN-Ekos Changing Employment Relationship Survey, one in three Canadian workers belong to a union, one in five belong to a professional association and one in ten belong to a staff association. It is important to note that some individuals have dual membership. For example, five percent of all employees belong to both a union and a professional association (data not shown). Examples would include teachers and nurses.

Looking only at the level of union membership in the workforce understates the forms of collective representation available to employees. While one-third of employees are unionized, another 16 percent are non-unionized but belong to a professional and/or staff association. In sum, close to half (48 percent) of Canadian employees have some form of third-party representation/membership, while just over half (52 percent) do not.


Some Workers Belong to Multiple Labour Organizations  

Source: CPRN - EKOS Changing Employment Relationships Survey (2000).

While there has been a great deal of research on how unions and collective agreements affect job quality and employment relationships, far less is known about the role professional and staff associations in this regard. The roles and mandates of such organizations vary widely. Yet considering that these organizations cover one in seven Canadian employees, more research on their roles and effects on jobs is warranted.

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