Union coverage rates

Growth in union coverage has not kept up with employee growth

  • In 2007, 4.5 million employees were covered by a collective agreement, a 17.3% increase from 3.8 million in 1997. However, growth in union coverage has not kept up with growth in the number of employees (25.5%) over the period. In 2007, 31.5% of all employees in Canada were covered by a union contract, down from 33.7 % in 1997. Declines in these rates have occurred among men, people aged 25 to 54 and those working in the private sector.

  • Union coverage rates are higher in the public sector—particularly in educational services, utilities, public administration, and health care and social assistance—as well as in full-time jobs and among employees in larger workplaces. Rates are also higher among those aged 25 or older, employees with higher education and those with longer job tenure. These job and worker characteristics are associated with higher earnings, which may partly explain the higher pay reported by unionized employees. (Collective bargaining on behalf of unionized employees may also partly explain their higher pay.) In 2007, the average hourly wage of unionized workers was $23.51, compared with $18.98 for non-unionized workers.

  • Union coverage rates were above average in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador and lowest in Alberta.

Chart K.4
Union coverage rates for selected job and employee characteristics, 2007

Chart K.4 Union coverage rates for selected job and employee characteristics, 2007

Note: Union coverage rates include members of union and non-members who are covered by a union contract.
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey.

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