Open-shop advocates say survey shows overwhelming majority of Ontarians support secret ballot votes when joining a union

Ontario Construction News staff writer

An association that advocates on behalf on open shop contractors says a social media poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Ontarians (72%) support having a secret ballot vote when joining or decertifying a union.

Merit Ontario said in a June 30 statement that it believes a secret ballot is one of the fundamental pillars of a democracy, and that it is impossible to argue otherwise. 

However, under current rules, a workplace can be unionized if a union provides the Labour Board with cards it claims have been signed by employees representing 50% + 1 of the target workplaces. “This is a system ripe for intimidation and manipulation, as has been documented in hearings before various Labour Boards across Canada,” the association says in a statement..

“In a democracy, we all believe that voting should be private,” said Michael Gallardo, Merit Ontario’s president and CEO. “It’s a fundamental right that protects us against coercion and intimidation. Most workers in Ontario already have this right but not construction workers and this is wrong.”

“This poll shows that the vast majority of Ontarians (72%) in every region of the province support our position and we are calling on the Ford government to change the labour code and give construction workers the same rights as others workers in Ontario.”

The survey of 1,001 Ontarians conducted using a sample from an online nationally representative sample. Margin of error is +/- 3.1%. The data was collected between June 18 and 19, 2020 and results have been weighted by region, age, and gender using the most recent census data.

The survey shows differing levels of support, with strongest relative support for the card-based certification model among young men (age 18-35) and in the Greater Toronto Area.  Conversely, secret ballot support is greater among older respondents (age 55 plus) and those in Northern Ontario.

Organized labour representatives argue that card-based certification makes most sense for construction workers, in part because they are deployed at a diversity of locations for varying time periods.


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