Supreme Court Gives Workers Right to Join Union

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 4.44.21 PMThe Supreme Court of Canada made a major move in the direction of employee rights. On the sixteenth of January, the Supreme court of Canada affirmed the constitutional rights right of all workers in Canada to join a union of their own choosing as well as engage in meaningful collective bargaining. The decision was brought to pass due to a challenge brought by the Mounted Police Associations of Ontario and B.C. against the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act which denied members the right to join a union.

In a six to one decision, the Supreme Court expressed that the right to freedom of association of association should also include the right to collective bargaining. The judge also wrote:  

“We conclude that the s. 2(d) guarantee of freedom of association protects a meaningful process of collective bargaining that provides employees with a degree of choice and independence sufficient to enable them to determine and pursue their collective interests.”

This moment definitely comes off historic the working class as well as the labor movement of Canada. James Clancy, National President of the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees, stated:

“Not only has the Supreme Court affirmed the fundamental labour rights of working people, it has reinforced the positive roles that unions and collective bargaining play in Canadian society. The Court explicitly states that collective bargaining is a fundamental aspect of Canadian society in that it enhances the human dignity, liberty, and autonomy of workers.”

“The decision also recognizes the importance of unions in providing the only democratic counterweight to the growing power of employers in Canada, especially of governments and large corporations,” Clancy added.

The Supreme Court Justices gave working people of Canada the affirmation they needed that collective bargaining is indeed important for the working people to thrive. They noted that this now

“them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work. Put simply, its purpose is to preserve collective employee autonomy against the superior power of management and to maintain equilibrium between the parties.”

The Canadian government now has 12 months to come up with a new procedure that honors the freedom of association and guarantees RCMP officers’ rights to collective bargaining.