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An Update on Union Density in BC

Highlights

  • The proportion of employees covered by collective agreements in BC has trended steadily lower over the past two decades.  After leveling off and tracking Canada-wide trends, union coverage has edged lower more recently.
  • BC has experienced larger declines in “union density” than other provinces.
  • The absolute number of employees in the BC private sector covered by collective agreements has declined over the past decade.
  • BC still has the seventh highest share of paid employees covered by a collective agreement.
  • The manufacturing and transportation industries have experienced the greatest decreases in collective agreement coverage.  Public sector industries continue to be characterized by union density rates that are far above the economy-wide average.
  • Based on average wages across all industries, there is a union “wage premium” in BC, but it has diminished over the past two decades.  On average, employees who are not covered by a collective agreement earn about 84 cents for every dollar received by their “unionized” counterpart.

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