In Canada, the two labor options
include labor unions (closed shop) and merit shops (open shop). Labor unions
and merit shops each have their advantages and disadvantages and have affected
many industries over the years. A labor union is an organization where workers and union leaders unite
to protect and promote the common interests of one another. Some major
principals of unions include negotiating wages, benefits and working condition
terms, maternity and parental leave, helping with regulating relations between
the employer, and the workers as well as help settle any complaints. Labor
unions exist on many levels, from local workplaces to international
organizations. More specifically, unionized workers are seen in government positions,
school systems and professional jobs. It was not until 1872, when unions in
Canada were recognized as legal when the Canadian Parliament passed the Trade
Unions Act. Throughout most of the 1900s, unions grew in population due to the
overall growth in industry and increasing public demands for better working
conditions, terms, and wages. However, throughout the later 1900s and early 2000s,
union populations have decreased as there are more general protections for
workers under provincial laws as well as shifts in population of industry
sectors. Merit shops, on the other hand, can be described as an organization
without a labor union. In this type of environment where there is no union,
employees are hired, compensated financially, promoted and terminated in
accordance to the managements’ discretion and the law of the respective
province. As labor law is a provincial jurisdiction in Canada, the laws will
vary from province to province. Merit shops can consist of the same members as
those in unions, however members are more commonly seen in temporary employees
or interns.

Due to the current labor laws in place, merit shops have become more
common in industries. Merit shops do share some similar values to unionized
organizations such as fair wages and workplace safety standards, however they
can do so while still maintaining a more direct control over their employees. 

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