Labor relation questions

A key assumption underpinning Canadian labour law is that its primary function is to preserve a reasonable balance between powerful forces represented by employers on one hand and their unionized workers on the other. Based on your own experience and knowledge, what do you think of this view of power in the workplace?

  1. Do you have any personal experience with a unionized workplace? What have been your experiences and views of union democracy? Does the present legal policy of non-intervention in internal union affairs seem reasonable in your opinion, or should the law take a more robust stance on this issue? If so, in what ways should it provide for this?
  1. The principle of “unfair labour practice” is designed to restrict the ability of any party to interfere with the democratic right of workers to choose whether to be represented by a union. However, as seen in the example of Walmart, some employers will go to great lengths to prevent unionization of their workplace. Are the prohibitions and remedies related to ULPs sufficient to protect the right to organize? What is your position on Walmart’s actions? How should an employer’s freedom to manage its workplace be balanced with workers’ freedom to associate?
  1. The set of recent Supreme Court decisions related to the constitutional protection of collective labour rights has sparked great debate about the nature of labour rights. Is this development positive or negative? What do you think the outcome of these decisions will be?
  1. This unit highlights a number of legal and constitutional guarantees that are peculiar to the legal regime for collective bargaining that has evolved in Canada. Several of them have been the focus of heated debate, such as specific rules defining a duty to bargain in good faith, the Rand formula and union dues check-off, and the statutory freeze on terms and conditions during collective bargaining.
    Choose the guarantee that you consider to be most contentious, and provide a response that reflects your personal position on it.
    Note: Open your response with a title that clearly identifies the legal provision you are discussing
  1. Considerable public debate has taken place over the right of the state to seek special restrictions on the right to strike for its own employees, loosely defined as “public sector workers.” The debate has also focused on the extent to which alternative dispute resolution procedures actually provide a fair and viable substitute for industrial action. The sanctions that the state can employ to impose its will in this area naturally become a factor in real life—and this becomes part of the argument.

Based on your readings in this course, as well as your experience, where do you stand in this debate? Pick one aspect of this issue and present your views.

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