Managerial Hostility and Attitudes Towards Unions: A Canada-US Comparison

We use a cross-country survey of attitudes toward work and unions, which includes a sample of managers in both the US and Canada, to explore whether there is greater attitudinal hostility to unions in the U.S. Our estimates indicate that American manager’s attitudes towards unions are, perhaps surprisingly, less hostile than those of Canadian managers. We explain this first finding by the differential effect of perceived union power, which is greater in Canada than the US and which is correlated negatively with union approval. We also find that US managers are less likely to use extreme methods to oppose union organizing drives, implying that the lower union rates in the US as compared to Canada are not likely the result of greater negativity towards unions themselves but rather some other factor or combination of factors. The implication is that if Canadian managers faced the same labor relations playing field as their US counterparts, they would likely find it easier to thwart union certification drives as well. Alternatively stated, Canadian-style labor relations reforms (such as card-check systems or quicker certification votes) could perhaps tip the balance in favor of unions when organizing in the US.


  • Mike Campolieti
  • Morley Gunderson
  • Rafael Gomez

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Journal of Labor Research

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