Union Coverage in Canada, 2013

Union Coverage in Canada, 2013

Publication date: June 11, 2014

Introduction

The Workplace Information and Research Division of the Labour Program conducts an annual survey of labour organizations in Canada that represent bargaining units of 50 or more workers. The survey provides aggregate statistics on union coverage by organization type and affiliation.

Overall coverage

In 2013, a total of 4,735,367 workers were covered by collective agreements, an increase of 1.5% compared to 2012. This corresponds to a union coverage rate of 30.0% (as a share of non-agricultural paid workers), a slight increase from the previous year’s rate of 29.9% (see Methodology). This is comparable to Statistics Canada coverage rate of 31.5%.Footnote 1

Union coverage rate in Canada, 1997-2013

Union coverage rate in Canada, 1997-2013

Source: Workplace Information Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada; and Statistics Canada, the Labour Force Survey, Labour Statistics Division, CANSIM 282-0002 & 282-0011.

Coverage by type of organization

Unions in Canada can be divided into four types of labour organizations: national, international, independent local, and directly chartered (see Definitions). The vast majority (94.5%) of covered workers are represented by national (69.5%) and international (25.0%) unions. Of the remainder, 3.8% are represented by independent local unions and 1.6% by directly chartered unionsFootnote 2 . Nonetheless, the number of independent local unions and directly chartered unions account for the majority of all unions in Canada (70.7%).

Share of covered workers, by organization type, 2013

Share of covered workers, by organization type, 2013

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada

Share of unions, by organization type, 2013

Share of unions, by organization type, 2013

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada

Coverage by union size

On average, a union in Canada represented 6,142 workers in 2013, up slightly from the previous year’s average of 6,018. However, the distribution was highly concentrated in a small number of large unions. As seen in appendix 6, 46.2% of all unionized workers belonged to only eight major unions, all of which are national or international unions. Each of these unions covers over 100,000 workers with an average size of 273,710 workers. Conversely, only 11.7% of all unionized workers belong to 421 unions, 60.6% of which are independent local unions. Each of these unions covers fewer than 10,000 workers with an average size of 1,299 workers.

Number of covered workers, by union size and organization type, 2013

Number of covered workers, by union size and organization type, 2013

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada

Note: Excludes Directly Chartered Unions. Only aggregate data is available for Directly Chartered Unions.

Number of covered workers, by union size and organization type, 2013

Union coverage rate in Canada, 1997-2013

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada

Note: Excludes Directly Chartered Unions. Only aggregate data is available for Directly Chartered Unions.

Affiliation

Unions affiliate with labour congresses for assistance at national and international levels. Among the labour congresses in Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) represented the largest share of workers covered by collective agreements at 69.2% in 2013 (Table 3), a modest decline from last year (70.2%). The remainder of affiliated workers were covered by the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) representing 7.0%; the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) at 2.7%; the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD) at 1.6%; the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFLCIO) at 0.8%; and the Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU) at 0.2%. Unions representing the remaining 18.6% of all workers covered were not affiliated to any congress.

Share of union coverage, by congress affiliation, 2013

Share of union coverage, by congress affiliation, 2013

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada

Affiliation changes and mergers

Two affiliation changes occurred during 2013: the Syndicat du personnel technique et professionnel de la Société des alcools du Québec and its 695 members affiliated with the CSN, and the British Columbia Nurses’ Union (40,000 members) disaffiliated from the CLC and became an independent national union, resulting in a slight decrease in the CLC’s share of total union coverage.

The merger of the National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), announced last year and formalized on August 31, 2013, has resulted in the creation of Unifor. Representing approximately 308,000 workers, Unifor is now Canada’s largest private-sector union and third largest overall.

On December 2, 2013, the Chalk River Technicians and Technologist Union (900 members) joined with the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW – 230,700 members).

Legislative and regulatory changes

In the past year, there have been few significant legislative changes affecting unions and union membership.

In Saskatchewan, Bill 85, The Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA), which was tabled on December 4, 2012, received Royal Assent on May 15, 2013.

The SEA consolidates a number of different labour statutes, including The Labour Standards Act, The Occupational Health and Safety Act, and The Trade Union Act. With respect to labour relations and union certification rules, a few key changes will be implemented.

The definition of “employee” clarifies that employees whose primary duties are confidential in nature are excluded from collective bargaining. Similarly, a new definition of “supervisory employee” has been added.

Employees fitting within this category are restricted from belonging to the same bargaining unit as employees they are supervising, except in specific circumstances.

A new procedure allows for separate certification of sub-components of bargaining units. New grounds under which a union may be decertified have been added (e.g., where the union ceases to be a union). In addition, the period within which a decertification application can take place has been significantly extended.

The SEA includes accountability requirements for unions, which will have to provide detailed financial statements to their members on a yearly basis and disclose the results of all secret ballot votes to the employees entitled to vote. The ability of unions to fine their members for crossing a picket line will be removed.

Also in Saskatchewan, the Court of Appeal issued its decision in R. v. Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, 2013 SKCA 43, concerning changes made by the 2008 Trade Union Amendment Act. Among other things, the Act changed the certification procedure from a card-check system to a mandatory secret ballot vote system, and increased the level of employee support to file a certification application from 25% to 45%. It also decreased the level of employee support to file a union decertification application from 50% to 45%. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the trial judge, who had concluded that the Act did not violate freedom of association as protected by section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was granted on October 17, 2013.

Appendix tables

Appendix 1 – Union coverage in Canada, 1997-2013

Appendix 1 – Union coverage in Canada, 1997-2013
Year Workers* (000s) As a percentage of non-agricultural paid workers**
1997 4,074 34.6
1998 3,938 32.9
1999 4,010 32.8
2000 4,058 32.2
2001 4,111 31.6
2002 4,174 31.4
2003 4,178 30.7
2004 4,261 30.5
2005 4,381 30.8
2006 4,441 30.8
2007 4,480 30.5
2008 4,592 30.5
2009 4,605 30.0
2010 4,645 30.9
2011 4,626 30.2
2012 4,664 29.9
2013 4,735 30.0

Chart 4-*Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

**Source: Statistics Canada, the Labour Force Survey, Labour Statistics Division, CANSIM 282-0002 and 282-0011.

Note: Non-agricultural paid workers data used are annual averages of the preceding year; data shown for covered workers are as of January of the years shown. Labour force includes total employed and unemployed.

Appendix 2 – Labour organizations with 30,000 or more covered workers, 2013

Appendix 2 – Labour organizations with 30,000 or more covered workers, 2013
Name Affiliation Number
Canadian Union of Public Employees CLC 630,050
National Union of Public and General Employees CLC 340,000
UNIFOR CLC 308,000
United Food and Commercial Workers Canada CtW / CLC 245,327
United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union AFL-CIO / CLC 230,700
Public Service Alliance of Canada CLC 187,587
Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux CSN 129,032
Service Employees International Union CtW / CLC 118,991
Teamsters Canada CtW / CLC 93,351
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Ind. 80,107
Laborers’ International Union of North America AFL-CIO / CLC 80,000
Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario CLC 76,166
FTQ Construction CLC 69,914
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation CLC 65,642
Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec Ind. 62,292
Fédération des employées et employés de services publics inc. CSN 60,700
Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement CSQ 60,000
Ontario Nurses’ Association CLC 59,500
Christian Labour Association of Canada Ind. 58,826
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada Ind. 58,703
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers AFL-CIO / CLC 57,130
Canadian Union of Postal Workers CLC 54,470
United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada AFL-CIO / CLC 50,374
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America CLC 50,000
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers AFL-CIO / CLC 50,000
Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association CLC 48,630
Alberta Teachers’ Association Ind. 44,465
British Columbia Teachers’ Federation CLC 43,563
International Union of Operating Engineers AFL-CIO / CLC 41,993
British Columbia Nurses’ Union Ind. 40,000
Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union CLC 36,287
Syndicat de la fonction publique du Québec et parapublique du Québec Ind. 35,489
Fédération du commerce inc. CSN 32,750
Fédération autonome de l’enseignement Ind. 32,000
Amalgamated Transit Union AFL-CIO / CLC 30,000
Fédération de l’industrie manufacturière CSN 30,000
Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec CSN 30,000
Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux Ind. 30,000

Legend:

AFL-CIO: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations

CLC: Canadian Labour Congress

CSN: Confédération des syndicats nationaux

CSQ: Centrale des syndicats du Québec

CtW: Change to Win

Ind.: Independent National Organization

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

Appendix 3 – Union coverage, by type of union and affiliation, 2013

Appendix 3 – Union coverage, by type of union and affiliation, 2013
Unions Locals Covered workers
Number Distribution
(percentage)
National 186 10,565 3,293,404 69.5
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 46 6,983 2,131,443 45
Independent national 107 1,310 698,931 14.8
Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) 14 1,782 323,586 6.8
Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) 14 416 126,486 2.7
Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU) 4 23 7,958 0.2
Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD) 1 51 5,000 0.1
International 40 3,535 1,183,785 25.0
American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) / Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 30 3,393 688,084 14.5
Change to Win (CtW) / Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 3 63 457,669 9.7
American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) only 4 72 36,040 0.8
Independent international 3 7 1,992 0.0
Directly Chartered 290 0 76,455 1.6
Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD) 287 0.0 70,400 1.5
Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) 1 0.0 6,000 0.1
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 2 0 55 0.0
Independent local 255 47 181,723 3.8
Total 771 14,147 4,735,367 100.0

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

Appendix 4 – Canadian Labour Congress coverage, by affiliation, 2013

Appendix 4 – Canadian Labour Congress coverage, by affiliation, 2013
Covered Workers
Number Distribution
(percentage)
National unions 2,131,443 65.0
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) only 2,131,443 65.0
International unions 1,145,753 35.0
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) / Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 688,084 21.0
Change to Win (CtW) / Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 457,669 14.0
Directly Chartered 55 0.0
Total 3,277,251 100.0

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

Appendix 5 – Composition of unions in Canada, by type of organization, 2013

Appendix 5 – Composition of unions in Canada, by type of organization, 2013
Unions Covered Workers
Number Distribution
(percentage)
Number Distribution
(percentage)
National 186 24.1 3,293,404 69.5
International 40 5.2 1,183,785 25.0
Independent local 255 33.1 181,723 3.8
Directly Chartered 290 37.6 76,455 1.6
Total 771 100.0 4,735,367 100.0

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

Appendix 6 – Composition of unions in Canada, by size, 2013

Appendix 6 – Composition of unions in Canada, by size, 2013
National International Independent Local Directly Chartered* Total
Unions Workers Unions Workers Unions Workers Unions Workers Unions Workers
under 1,000 73 27,286 7 2,977 202 61,793 N/A N/A 282 92,111
1,000-9,999 71 277,371 15 57,603 53 119,930 N/A N/A 139 460,904
10,000-29,999 14 234,574 8 125,339 N/A N/A 22 359,913
30,000-49,999 11 403,184 2 71,993 N/A N/A 13 475,177
50,000-99,999 12 756,320 5 330,855 N/A N/A 17 1,157,575
100,000 and over 5 1,594,669 3 595,018 N/A N/A 8 2,189,687
Grand Total 186 3,293,404 40 1,183,785 255 181,723 290 76,455 771 4,735,367

Note: Only aggregate data is available for Directly Chartered Unions.

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

Appendix 7 – Union coverage, by congress affiliation, 2013

Appendix 7 – Union coverage, by congress affiliation, 2013
Covered Workers
Number Distribution (percentage)
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 3,277,251 69.2
American Federation of Labour and Congress of
Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) /
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
668,084 14.5
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) only 2,131,443 45.0
Change to Win (CtW) / Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 457,669 9.7
Directly Chartered 55 0.0
Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) 329,586 7.0
Federation 323,586 6.8
Directly Chartered 6,000 0.1
Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) 126,486 2.7
Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD) 75,400 1.6
Federation 5,000 0.1
Directly Chartered 70,400 1.5
Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU) 7,958 0.2
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) only 36,040 0.8
Unaffiliated unions 882,646 18.6
Independent international 1,992 0.0
Independent local 181,723 3.8
Independent national 698,931 14.8
Total 4,735,367 100.0

Source: Workplace Information and Research Division, Strategic Policy, Analysis, and Workplace Information Directorate, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada.

Methodology and Definitions

Union coverage data is collected directly from labour organizations using a self-reporting survey. If the required information is not received in the year of the survey, the latest reported figures are used.

The non-agricultural paid workers (NAPW) figure is used in the calculation of the union coverage rate as it represents the workforce that could potentially be covered by unions. It includes employees, self-incorporated with paid help, self-incorporated with no paid help and excludes all workers in the agriculture industry.

Union coverage – all persons, whether union members or not, who are covered by a collective agreement.

National Union – a union that only represents workers in Canada.

International Union – a union that represents workers in Canada and the United States. For the purpose of this survey only workers in Canada are reported.

Independent Local Organization – a union that is not formally connected or affiliated with any other labour organization.

Directly Chartered Union – a union that is directly affiliated to a labour congress. It pays per capita dues directly to the congress and receives services from the congress.

The Labour Organizations in Canada provides key information relating to unions, congresses, and other labour organizations (e.g., name, affiliation, and covered workers).

Footnotes

Footnote 1
Statistics Canada coverage data from the Labour Force Survey is collected monthly from a sample of working age individuals, whereas the data collected in this annual survey is directly from all labour organizations.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2
Due to number rounding, the proportions may not add-up to 100%.

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