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CEP discussion paper
Frustrated Demand for Unionisation: the Case of the United States and Canada Revisited
Rafael Gomez, Seymour Martin Lipset and Noah Meltz April 2001
Paper No' CEPDP0492:
Full Paper (pdf)

Tags: frustrated demand for unionisation: the case of the united states and canada revisited

In this paper we demonstrate that there is a substantial union representation gap in the United States. We arrive at this conclusion by comparing Canadian and American worker responses to questions relating to desired union representation. We find that a majority of the gap in union density between Canada and the US is a function of greater frustrated demand on the part of American workers. We then estimate potential union density rates for the United States and Canada and find that, given current levels of union membership in both countries, if effective demand for unionisation among non-union workers were realised, then this would imply equivalently higher rates of unionisation (37 and 36 percent in the US and Canada respectively). These results cast some doubt on the view that even minor reforms to labour legislation in the US, to bring them in line with those in most Canadian jurisdictions, would do nothing to improve the rate of organising success in the United States. The results also have implications for countries such as Britain who have recently moved closer to a Wagner-Act model of statutory recognition.