Document Type


Publication Date

October 2013


Legislation enacted in many states following the 2010 elections in the United States strengthened unilateral public employer control and weakened employee voice. This rebalancing of power occurred in the context of state public employee labour relations acts modeled on the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), but with a narrower scope of bargaining than in the private sector. This narrow scope channels unions’ voice away from the quality of public services and towards protecting members from the effects of decisions unilaterally imposed by management. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the freedom of association guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes a right to collective bargaining, but that this right need not be modelled on the NLRA. This article explores the evolving Canadian jurisprudence decoupling the right to a voice at work from an NLRA-style model as an alternative approach for US public sector labour law reform.