U.S. labour rights curtailed; situation ‘unlikely’ in Canada

Unions currently have enough political clout to withstand assault, legal scholar argues
By Danielle Harder
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 03/21/2011

After weeks of protest, Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker has officially taken away nearly all collective bargaining rights from the state’s 175,000 public employees. Passage of the bill led to mass protests on the weekend following the March 10 vote.

More than 100,000 people poured into the streets of Madison, the capital, to protest the law, but their frustration extended beyond the state’s border. Ohio recently proposed similar legislation that will be put to voters shortly, while 35 other U.S. states are also pushing for laws that would curtail unions.

The demise of collective bargaining rights south of the border is being watched closely here at home. Michael Lynk teaches law at the University of Western Ontario in London; he is also a respected authority on labour and constitutional law. He says the chance of similar legislation being passed in Canada is “unlikely but not something that can be definitively ruled out.”