Unionization — PDF
Unionization rates in first half of 2006 and
At 14.1 million, average paid employment (employees)
during the first half of 2007 was 283,000 higher
than during the same period a year earlier (Table 1).
On the other hand, union membership increased by
72,000 to 4.2 million. Compared with last year,
employment grew less while union membership
expanded more. As a result, the unionization rate (density)
remained unchanged at 29.7%.
Both men and women registered marginal decreases
in unionization rates. At 30.0%, the women’s rate in
2007 continued to exceed the rate for men (29.3%).
Unionization rose slightly in the public sector (to
71.7%) but remained the same in the private sector
Seven provinces recorded increases. Decreases were
seen in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta (Chart A).
The rate fell from 23.2% to 22.9% for part-time workers
and remained unchanged for full-time workers (31.2%).
The unionization rate for permanent employees
remained at 30.2%, but decreased
to 25.8% for those in non-permanent jobs.
The rate fell in workplaces with less than
20 employees, and those with 100 to 500,
it increased in those with more than 500
employees and those with 20 to 99
Unionization rose in 8 of the 16 major industry
groups: public administration; construction;
information, culture and recreation;
trade; business, building and other support;
other services; finance, insurance, real estate
and leasing; and accommodation and food. Professional, scientific and technical remained
stable, while all other industry groups registered
declines (Chart B).
Among the 10 major occupational groups,
unionization rose in 3: business, finance and
administrative; natural and applied sciences; and management. Trades, transport and
equipment operators and sales and services
remained stable, while the rest showed
declines (Chart C).
The number of employees who were not
union members but covered by a collective
agreement averaged 308,000, down
slightly from 316,000 a year earlier (see
Akyeampong 2000 for a description of this
2006 annual averages
Approximately 4.1 million (29.4%) employees belonged to a union in 2006
(Table 2). An additional 320,000 (2.3%)
were covered by a collective agreement.
Those in the public sector—government,
Crown corporations, and publicly
funded schools or hospitals—were
four times as likely as their private-sector
counterparts to belong to a union
(71.0% versus 17.0%).
Almost 1 in 3 full-time employees belonged
to a union, compared with about 1 in 4 part-time. Also, almost 1
in 3 permanent employees was a union
member, compared with 1 in 4 nonpermanent.
High unionization rates were found
among employees aged 45 to 54
(39.0%); among those with a postsecondary
certificate or diploma
(33.3%) or a university degree (33.2%);
in Quebec (36.4%) and Newfoundland
and Labrador (35.6%); in educational
services (68.2%), public administration
(66.9%), and utilities (65.4%); and in
health care occupations (61.4%).
Low unionization rates were recorded
among 15 to 24 year-olds (13.4%); in
Alberta (22.3%); in agriculture (4.0%)
and professional, scientific and technical
services (4.6%); and in management
Differences between the sexes
For the third year in a row, the
unionization rate for women in 2006
surpassed that of men (29.7% versus
Among men, part-time employees had
a much lower rate than full-time (17.7%
versus 30.4%). Among women, the gap
was narrower (25.4% versus 31.1%).
The unionization rate of women in
the public sector (72.7%) exceeded that
of men (68.3%), reflecting women’s
presence in public administration, and
in teaching and health positions. However,
in the private sector, only 12.4%
were unionized, compared with 20.9%
of men. The lower rate among women
reflected their predominance in sales
and several service occupations.
A higher-than-average rate was
recorded among men with a postsecondary
certificate or diploma
(33.5%). For women, the highest rate
was among those with a university degree
(38.9%), reflecting unionization in
occupations such as health care and
Among those in permanent positions,
the rate for men (29.9%) was almost
identical to that for women (30.1%).
Among those in non-permanent positions,
women were more unionized
than men (27.2% versus 23.1%).
Average earnings and
Unionized jobs generally
provide higher earnings than
non-unionized ones (Table 3).
However, factors other than
collective bargaining provisions
play a role as well.
These include varying distributions
of unionized employees
by age, sex, job tenure,
industry, occupation, firm
size, and geographical location.
Although these factors have
not been examined, it is clear
that unionized workers and
jobs tend to have certain
characteristics that are associated
with higher earnings. For
example, union density is
higher among older workers,
those with higher education,
those with long tenure, and
those in larger workplaces.
Although differences in earnings
and non-wage benefits
cannot be attributed solely to
union status (Akyeampong
2002), the union wage premium
(after adjusting for
employee and workplace
characteristics) has been estimated
at 7.7% (Fang and
In 2006, the average hourly
earnings of unionized workers
were higher than those of
non-unionized workers. This
held true for both full-time
($23.34 versus $19.84) and
part-time ($19.36 versus
In addition to having higher
hourly earnings, unionized
part-time employees generally
worked more hours per week than their non-unionized counterparts (19.3 hours versus 16.9). As a result,
their average weekly earnings were nearly double ($378.88 versus $208.22).
On average, unionized women working full time received 94% as much in hourly
earnings as their male counterparts. In contrast, women working part time earned
Wage settlements, inflation and labour
Wage gains of 2.5% in 2006 matched the rate of inflation
(Table 4). During the first four months of 2007,
wage gains averaged 3.0%, over one percentage point
higher than the rate of inflation (1.9%).
Wage gains in the private sector in 2006 (2.1%) fell
short of those in the public sector (2.6%). The gap
widened in the first four months of 2007. The corresponding
figures were 2.5% and 3.6%.
Annual statistics on strikes, lockouts and person-days
lost are affected by several factors, including collective
bargaining timetables, size of the unions involved, strike
or lockout duration, and state of the economy. The
number of collective agreements up for renewal in a
year determines the potential for industrial disputes.
Union size and strike or lockout duration determine
the number of person-days lost. The state of the
economy influences the likelihood of an industrial dispute,
given that one is legally possible.
The estimated number of person-days lost through
strikes and lockouts more than doubled from 1.7 million
in 2003 to 4.1 million in 2005. In 2006, however,
the number dropped sharply to 813,000.
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