Summary•Unions are collective organizations whose primaryobjective is to improve the well-being of theirmembers.In Canada this objective is met primarilythrough collective bargaining with the employer.•There are two basic types of unions. Craft unionsrepresent workers in a particular trade or occupa-tion while industrial unions represent the workersin a specific industry. Some unions combine ele-ments of both types.•A significant fraction of the Canadian labourforce—about 26 percent in 2005—are union mem-bers. The importance of unions in Canada hasincreased over time. Union membership as a per-centage of nonagricultural paid workers—a com-monly used measure of union density—rose from16 percent in 1920 to 31 percent in 2005.•Union representation and collective bargaining inCanada are regulated by an elaborate legal frame-work that has changed substantially over time.Thelaw provides workers with the right to form andjoin unions, and establishes procedures for admin-istering and enforcing these rights. Canadian
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