By Ian Verrender Posted June 27, How good were the good old days?
Closed shop The major difference between an open and closed shop is the requirement for union membership. Unions have argued against the open shop adopted by United States employers in the first decade of the twentieth century, seeing it as an attempt to drive unions out of industries.
For example, construction craft unions have always relied on controlling the supply of labour in particular trades and geographical areas as a means of maintaining union standards and establishing collective bargaining relations with the employers in that field.
In order to do that, unions argued, construction unions—and to a lesser extent unions representing musicians, longshore workersrestaurant employees and others who work on a transitory and relatively brief basis—must require that employers hire only their members.
The open shop was also a key component of the American Plan introduced in the s. In that era the open shop was directed not only at construction unions but also unions in mass production industries. Unions again felt that these proposed policies would give employers the opportunity to discriminate against union members in employment and would also lead to a steadfast opposition to collective bargaining of any sort.
The legal status of the open shop[ edit ] The term open shop is also used similarly in Canadamostly in reference to construction contractors that have at least a partially non-union workforce. Canadians enjoy the freedom to associate, guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, inherently including the right not to associate.
Although the National Labor Relations Act permits construction employers to enter into pre-hire agreements, in which they agree to draw their workforces from a pool of employees dispatched by the union, employers are under no legal compulsion to enter into such agreements.
Non-union construction employers have also adopted the phrase "merit shop" to describe their operations. In many connotations, the terms are interchangeable, however it may be used differently by different sides of the open shop issue.
The open shop is also the legal norm in those states that have adopted right-to-work laws. In those cases, employers are barred from enforcing union security arrangements and may not fire an employee for failure to pay union dues.
Canada[ edit ] In various Canadian provincescertain 'open shop' organizations have formed. Many of these organizations claim that small contractors are not adequately protected by current labour legislation. As labour law is a provincial jurisdiction in Canada, the laws vary from province to province.
However, there is some common ground.
Despite opposition from open shop contractors, in Ontario, the Liberal government recently reinstituted the card-based certification system that was in place for most of the post-World War II period. Card-based certification was reinstated only for the construction industry. It allows workers to certify an exclusive bargaining agent on the basis of membership, sometimes known as "majority sign-up.
Others assert that it overcomes the natural advantage that employers in opposition to unionization have over their employees. Several companies whose employees are represented by the Christian Labour Association of Canada or CLACa union with non-traditional rules of membership, are members of the association.
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