Unions Matter: How the Ability of Labour Unions to Reduce Income Inequality and Influence Public Policy has been affected by Regressive Labour Laws

Source: Garry Sran with Michael Lynk, James Clancy and Derek Fudge, Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights, March 27, 2013

There is extensive research literature that suggests there are significant social benefits for countries with strong labour rights and a more extensive collective bargaining system. Income inequality is less extreme according to a variety of measures, civic engagement is higher, there are more extensive social programs such as health care and pensions plans, and the incidence of poverty is significantly smaller. This paper adds to the literature by examining the relationship between labour unions, income inequality and regressive labour laws.

The underlying causes of declining unionization rates will be examined for Canada and will be compared to other developed economies.

The paper finds that regressive labour laws in Canada have reduced unionization rates which has led to rising income inequality and reduced civic participation.