Improving Union Accountability with Worker Choice
As one of its last pieces of legislation before closing for the summer, Parliament passed Bill C-377, which aim to increase the financial transparency of labour organizations. This is a welcome move. Previous research by the Fraser Institute has shown that Canada traditionally lacked the strong union financial disclosure requirements to ensure financial transparency. The new law will ease the process for both unionized workers who pay union dues and the general public who wish to find out how union contributions are being spent.
It is important for a labour union to be accountable and responsive to the demands of members and dues-paying workers because the primary purpose of a union is to represent the interests of unionized workers. Specifically, unions represent workers in negotiations with employers (within the confines of collective bargaining) and in disputes between a worker and an employer. The recent changes aimed at increasing union financial transparency represent an important step in improving union accountability. The next step for greater accountability is to ensure that workers have a choice about whether or not to become a union member at all, and in paying union dues more broadly.