Union Certification: A Critical Analysis and Proposed Alternative

Source: Mark Harcourt and Helen Larri, WorkingUSA, Vol. 10 no. 3, September 2007
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The North American union certification system has not met the representation needs of most workers. In this essay, certification’s effectiveness is critically examined. The exclusive representation and winner-take-all approach satisfies only two out of seven categories of union and nonunion workers with different representational preferences. The “winners” are those who successfully exercise their choice to be either unrepresented or represented by their most preferred union. All others are “losers.” A compulsory proportional representation alternative is proposed which allows for both union and nonunion forms of representation, representative election based on proportional votes, and mandatory workplace representation. The merits of this alternative in balancing the needs of both voting majorities and minorities and protecting worker rights from management encroachment are discussed. Some preliminary suggestions on its implementation are offered.

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