The Rand Formula relates to an automatic check-off system through which dues to a union are abstracted by the employer from all employees benefiting from the union activities, regardless of whether they are members or not (MacKillop and Miedema, 110). The rationale for this system is to enhance union funding and also to ensure that any person that benefits from the collective power of the union also contributes to the union’s financial well being (CCH canadienne limitee, 681).
The formula was introduced in 1946 by Justice Ivan Rand, in order to bring to an end a ninety nine day strike at the Ford Motor Company. The formula was arrived at to offer union security and stability and forestall efforts of the company to revert to the open shop policy (Rapaport, 1999). Though the formula was arrived at pursuant to arbitration, it would later become popular and was eventually legislated on.
Despite its compulsory nature, the Canadian Supreme Court has held that the formula does not contravene the freedom of association, as contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights (Panitch and Swartz, 78). In Lavigne v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the Plaintiff had gone to court to challenge the constitutionality of the Rand Formula, arguing that it impinged on his right to associate. Even though the Supreme Court Justices were at variance on the accurate construction of section 2(d), they all agreed that the formula falls within the reasonable limits test under section 1 (Panitch and Swartz, 79).
Accordingly, it is clear that the formula is not a violation of any rights. This is very imperative to understand as majority of those opposed to it flagrantly deceive people that the formula is a violation of rights. Their argument, albeit false, is that the formula forces people to become members. The truth however is that what is compulsory is the contribution or dues, not membership. Therefore, abolishing the formula is not only a bad idea but also dangerous.
Perhaps the real intention of those opposed to it and the danger in abolishing the formula is to weaken unions. By abolishing the formula, unions will be deprived a huge chunk of funding. This would weaken many unions, and eventually reduce their bargaining power. With weakened unions comes exploitation of employees by employers. As a matter of fact, Justice Rand summed the rationale for the formula as protecting employees from exploitation. Accordingly, by abolishing the formula the gateways to employee exploitation would be wide open.
Another detriment of weak unions is the inability to influence policy. All over the world unions have demonstrated ability to influence government policy, especially in relation to the ordinary citizens. This they do not only for their members but also the ordinary citizens who are much alike to the workers they represent. The key denominator of such unions is strength, both in numbers and financial resources. Without these requisites unions would be incapable of fighting for the ordinary citizens from exploitation by the government and corporations, which would be the consequence of abolishing the Rand formula.
Closely related to the foregoing is the development of rogue corporate and government. Weak unions would be incapable of checking the excesses of the government and corporations. This would make them rogue, doing whatever they wish. This would be particularly dangerous in relation to labor relations and the economy generally, especially in relation to wages. Even though unions have in the past acted in a rogue manner by supporting or holding controversial views, rogue corporations and government would be far worse.
Another big danger in abolishing the formula is conflicts between union member employees and non-member employees, in relation to benefits obtained from collective bargaining. The Rand Formula presents a compromise between the two groups, employees are not forced to join unions and at the same time they cannot free load on the benefits of being union members (Ryan, 2013). Abolishing the Rand Formula means that non union members do not have to contribute to the union, but may reap the benefits of the union’s collective bargaining.
This is not only unfair and unjust but would cause conflicts at the work place. These conflicts are as harmful to the economy as they are to the employer; on such basis all parties will be losers. The situation is compounded by the fact that the benefits cannot be conferred to union employees only. This is not only administratively cumbersome but would border within discrimination, which is unconstitutional and illegal. All these problems may be avoided by simply not abolishing the formula.
In order to prevent a law banning the Rand Formula from being passed, unions can take certain measures. Key among them is to lobby against such law, through numbers. Unions can in one voice lobby against such law. This would convince the members of parliament from considering the law. This method has worked in the past and could work for a law trying to abolish the formula.
Another measure would be for the unions to propose suggestions that would amend the stipulations of the formula that are contentious. In this way, rather than abolish the formula in its entirety amendments would be made to it. This is a compromise between the two sides and would perhaps be the best alternative.
CCH canadienne limitee. Canadian Master Labor Law Guide. Ontario: CCH Canadian
Limited, 2006. Print.
Lavigne v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, 1991 2 S.C.R. 211
MacKillop, Malcom, and Adrian Miedema. Legalese with Ease: Legal Terms for Human
Resources Professionals. Ontario: CCH Canadian Limited, 2003. Print.
Panitch, Leo, and Donald Swartz. From Consent to Coercion: The Assault on Trade Union
Freedoms. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008. Print.
Ryan, Said. “Torries Attack Rand Formula to Silence Workers.” The Blog. The Huffing Post, 14
Feb. 2013. Web. 5 June 2013.