Dalhousie Law Journal


unions, freedom of association, human right, International Labour Organization, Supreme Court of Canada, collective bargaining, inter-union collaboration, New Zealand, policy


North American union certification violates workers' freedom of association, a fundamental human right well established by the International Labour Organization (ILO); by denying workers the right to be represented when a majority of their co-workers does not favour a union. In Canada, the Supreme Court has drawn on ILO standards to recognize a constitutional right to bargain collectively and organize as part of freedom of association under section 2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, such recognition of the ILO principles has, as yet, to translate into legislation that would provide non-exclusive, non-majority union representation, at least in workplaces where majority support has not been demonstrated. This disinclination to change the existing system reflects the widespread belief that non-exclusive representation would spawn multi-union representation and a corresponding deterioration in inter-union relationships. We challenge this assumption, using results from a survey ofinter-union collaboration in New Zealand, where there is a non-exclusive, non-majority (minority) union representation system. We find that collaboration is commonplace, especially with respect to bargaining and policy issues.