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Union certification: Mandatory secret ballot voting would show more respect for workers’ wishes – A new poll indicates that a large majority of Quebeckers support this reform

Montreal, September 10, 2009 – More than seven out of 10 people in Quebec feel the government should amend the current law to establish mandatory secret ballot voting among employees involved in an application for union certification. Support for such a change is even higher among unionized workers, at 80%.

These are the results of a poll conducted in August 2009 by Léger Marketing. The poll was commissioned to coincide with the publication by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) of a Research paper on the union certification process. The study was prepared by Marcel Boyer, senior economist at the MEI and emeritus professor of economics at the Université de Montréal.

According to Mr. Boyer, Quebec needs to overhaul its legal framework in labour relations, first by making secret ballot voting mandatory when union certification is being sought. “This reform would guarantee that workers could express their real opinion, and it would enable Quebec businesses to compete on a level playing field with firms elsewhere, helping to attract investment and promoting job creation,” he stated.

MEI president Michel Kelly-Gagnon added that “the poll results alone should lead us to ask some serious questions about the legitimacy of a union certification system based on the signing of membership cards. The poll shows that the line taken by union leaders is not always as representative of the views of workers as they pretend.”

It should be noted that Quebec is alone among the four big Canadian provinces where secret ballot voting is not required to certify a union.

About the author: Marcel Boyer, senior economist at the Montreal Economic Institute, is one of Canada’s best known economists. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Carnegie Mellon University and is emeritus professor of economics at the Université de Montréal. He is also a fellow of the Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis on Organizations (CIRANO) and of the C.D. Howe Institute. In 2002, he obtained the Marcel Vincent Prize awarded by the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS) for the exceptional quality of his work in social science.

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The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan research and educational organization. Through studies and conferences, it informs public policy debates in Quebec and Canada by suggesting wealth-generating reforms based on market mechanisms.

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For further information and interview requests: David Descôteaux, Montreal Economic Institute / Tel.: 514 273-0969 ext. 2224 / Cell: 514 993-4450 / Email: ddescoteaux (@iedm.org)

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