Friday, February 23, 2024

Research: Government interference in collective bargaining

Earlier this week, the Parkland Institute released a report that I contributed to, entitled Thumb on the scale: Alberta government interference in public-sector bargaining.

This report examines how, in a time when workers’ Charter-protected associational rights appear to be expanding, the rate at which governments interfere with collective bargaining has skyrocketed.

It specifically looks at Alberta’s ongoing use of secret bargaining mandates, which turn public-sector bargaining into a hollow and fettered process.

This report is relevant because both UNA and AUPE have exchanged opening proposals with the government in the last few weeks and will be bargaining against secret mandates. The government opener in both cases was, unsurprisingly, identical and there is a huge gap between what workers are asking for and what the government is offering.

-- Bob Barnetson

Friday, January 12, 2024

New research on unions' impact on wages and benefits

In November, Andrew Stevens and Angele Poirier released a report that examined the union effect on wages and benefits across Canada to 2022, with the data for Saskatchewan also broken out.

Nationally, unionized workers earned an average of 11% more than non-unionized workers. There was significant provincial, gender, age, and sectoral variation. The union advantage appeared particularly pronounced for workers aged 15 to 24 (+26%) and part-time workers (+41%).

Unionized workers were also more likely to have paid sick time (80% versus 555 for nonunionized). Unionized workers were also much more likely to have employment-related pension plans (825 versus 37%) as well as other supplementary benefits.

Interestingly, non-unionized workers experienced slightly higher wage increases between 2020 and 2022. This might reflect pressure on non-union employers to improve wages in order to attract and retain staff (i.e., is a union spill-over effect). It might also reflect that union contracts (which fix compensation for a period of time) may delay increases (e.g., inflationary bumps) or unionized workers (who are very often in the public sector) may have been subject to mandated wage freezes and rollbacks by the state.

-- Bob Barnetson