Senate votes to make it harder for Canadians to join a union

December 19, 2014

The Senate has passed a bill that will make it much more difficult for workers in federally regulated workplaces to join unions, and easier for a minority of workers to disband them.

Bill C-525, the so-called “Employees’ Voting Rights Act,” was introduced by backbench Conservative MP Blaine Calkins as a private member’s bill, circumventing the decades-old and proven process of using tripartite consultation with employers, labour and government to amend the Canadian Labour Code.

“Not a single employer or union identified a problem in current industrial relations that required these legislative amendments,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.

Yussuff points out that virtually all industrial relations authorities in Canada have warned against Bill C-525 and this process, saying it would needlessly upset the balance in federal labour relations.

“This legislation is really about denying Canadian workers the right to collective bargaining with their employer,” said Yussuff. “It is an invitation to employers to interfere with workers’ democratic right to choose representation, and it will destabilize federal labour relations.”

Destabilization aside, the Canada Industrial Relations Board has released a study showing that the mandatory voting called for in Bill C‑525 will result in a 500% increase in costs.

Bill C-525 passed third reading Tuesday night despite flaws found by the Conservative dominated Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee last week. Amendments proposed by some Senators that would have fixed the mistakes were ignored because sending the Bill back to the House would have killed it.

“The Senate has abdicated its responsibility to provide sober second thought by allowing a technically flawed and badly drafted bill to pass into law,” said Yussuff.