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Research Presentation by Dr. Andrew Stevens

Fri., Mar. 7, 2014 10:30 a.m.

Location: Education Building, Room 514

The Faculty of Business Administration hosts a regular Speakers Series, including regular Research Presentations by Faculty members (October through April).

Our next presentation will be "Adventures in Mouseland: Industrial pluralism and labour law reform in the New Saskatchewan"

Presented by Dr. Andrew Stevens

When the Saskatchewan Party was first elected in November of 2007, unions in the province anticipated a fight. Guided by a popular and charismatic leader, Premier Brad Wall, the Sask Party was quick to act on these expectations. Six months after the election, the government used its mandate to turn Bills 5 and 6, known respectively as the The Public Services Essential Services Act and The Trade Union Amendment Act, into law. These changes have made Saskatchewan one of the toughest provinces in which to unionize and also introduced significant limitations on the right of public sector workers to strike.

By 2012, the government embarked on a comprehensive review of the province’s labour relations and employment standards legislation. Some organizations took this opportunity to call for an end to the dues check-off system and even questioned the relevance of the Wagner Act-model as a basis for industrial relations in the province. Unions justifiably feared that Saskatchewan might be the setting for a Wisconsin-style assault on labour rights.  However, the government’s proposed Saskatchewan Employment Act, which combines twelve pieces of legislation, fell short of making radical changes to the province’s labour relations laws. Still, industrial relations scholars and practitioners have cautioned that the new legislation opens up an era of weakened employment regulations. Is Saskatchewan witnessing a process of gradual reform and labour law “modernization”, as the government suggests, or is this death by a thousand cuts for trade unions?

This paper examines the implications of the Saskatchewan Employment Act for workers and employers in the province, and analyzes the state of industrial pluralism in Saskatchewan.