Ontario-Manufacturing-webMore workers represented by a collective agreement have been hired since the economic downturn than non-union, according to figures released by Statistics Canada.

In the auto-dominated manufacturing sector, the growth is even higher. “Hiring has come back at unionized places,” said Jim Stanford, Unifor economist. “Companies have hired a lot of people since 2009, and unions are part of that success.”

It also dispels the notion unionized workers suffer more job losses than non-union during tough times, he added. According to Statistics Canada’s CANSIM Labour Force Survey:

  • Since 2009, Ontario manufacturers employed 157,000 unionized workers, a three per cent increase on the 152,000 employed in 2009.
  • Non-union manufacturers employed 587,000 last year, compared to 598,000 in 2009, a decline of 1.7 per cent.

“Since the recession we have protected union jobs in the auto sector,” said Jerry Dias, national president, Unifor. “The numbers show our success and it shows we are proactive, we found ways to secure and protect jobs when others had no form of protection.”

Last year the province had 1.6 million workers who belonged to a union, or were represented by a collective agreement, 28 per cent of its 5.8 million workforce. In 2009, that total was 27.6 per cent, or 1.5 million of Ontario’s 5.4 million workers. That is also similar to U.S. figures. In 2009 the United Auto Workers had 355,191 members and last year that grew eight per cent, as the Detroit Three’s unionized plants won their share of the auto sales recovery.

“Unions helped save jobs, if we needed to keep a plant in business we did that time and again, as we did with GM and Chrysler. We raise the issue of job losses and help draw attention to it. Non-union plants cannot do that,” said Stanford. “Non-union plants closed down and laid off workers, but you never hear about them because those workers do not have a voice.”

 

FACTS

More union job growth forecast:

• The Detroit Three saw its market share rise to 45.3 percent last year, up from 44.8 percent in 2012, the third time in the last four years they have gained ground.

• Bloomberg News also reported the North American auto industry is expanding factory capacity by about 3 million vehicles from its 2009 total.