CIRHR Researchers Launch National Study of Unions

July 8, 2022 by Andy Vatiliotou

Photo of Rafael GomezJen HarmerThe Centre is home to the national headquarters for the Canadian Union Administrative Practices Survey, a nationwide survey that examines human resource management practices in unions.

Launching this week, this study attempts to understand if these internal management practices can lead to organization-level benefits such as union membership expansion. Looking at union membership expansion as it relates to institutional vitality is a unique approach to tackling the problem of declining union density.

“It’s exciting that the Centre can be a part of writing the modern-day picture of unionism,” explained CIRHR Director, Prof. Rafael Gomez. “We have the opportunity to update the portrait of unionization in this country,” he added.

This survey is more than two years in the making. The work began with meetings with union officials who provided their input on the study design.

This work is part of an international effort with researchers in the United States, championed by Penn State. It also is a collaborative effort to gather data in Australia and the United Kingdom. This is the first time the Canadian perspective will be included in the international study since the initial wave of data collection that took place approximately 30 years ago. This work is led by PhD Candidate Jen Harmer, and Supervised by Prof. Rafael Gomez, CIRHR Director. “We have the opportunity to update the picture of unions and ensure the Canadian perspective is inserted into this global effort to study unions,” said Prof. Gomez.

Union head offices will receive an invitation to complete the survey for their organization. The survey will be targeted toward the highest-ranking person in the office responsible for personnel/human resources management.

Early indicators suggest unions are participating in a range of people-management practices. This study can help identify which practices give unions the best organizational returns. “If we can document this national picture, we can use the findings to generate best practices and tools to assist unions in their own people-management” explained PhD Candidate, Jen Harmer. “The more unions willing to complete the survey - we can develop a more thorough picture of the Canadian union landscape,” added Harmer.

To receive a copy of the survey and ensure your union’s voice is heard, please contact Jen Harmer.