Accueil » 45-3 ( 1990) » L'effet du développement de la petite entreprise sur l'évolution du syndicalisme au Canada

L'effet du développement de la petite entreprise sur l'évolution du syndicalisme au Canada

Jean-Michel Cousineau et Elmustapha Najem

Résumé

Au Canada, l'apparente stabilité du mouvement syndical dissimule une tendance de fond au déclin du syndicalisme dans le secteur privé. En complément des hypothèses traditionnellement avancées pour expliquer le déclin dans les taux de syndicalisation, les auteurs ont eu l'idée de vérifier l'incidence du développement de la petite entreprise sur l'évolution des effectifs syndicaux dans quatre grands sous-secteurs du secteur privé de l'économie canadienne. Pour ce faire, ils ont eu recours à un modèle économétrique de détermination des effectifs syndicaux tenant compte de l'influence de l'emploi, du chômage, de la densité syndicale déjà atteinte et de la politique de contrôle des prix et des revenus. Dans un modèle dont le degré d'explication s'est avéré passablement élevé, l'influence du développement de la petite entreprise s'est montrée significative et telle qu'attendue, uniquement dans le sens où ce développement caractérise principalement une part importante et croissante des nouveaux emplois créés.

Abstract

Union density has declined sharply in the U.S., while in Canada it appeared to be more or less stable during the sixties, seventies and early eighties. Such an apparent stability is, however, suspected to mask a more discrete decline in union density in the private sector of the Canadian economy. Different hypotheses may be advanced to explain such a behavior. While the hypothesis that the growth of union membership is inversely related to the growth and development of small size firms (SSF) has been recognized in the industrial relations literature, no systematic test of this hypothesis is found in the empirical studies dealing with the determination of union membership growth. As a complement to the more traditional hypotheses advanced to explain the decline in the rate of unionization in the private sector (structural changes, employers' resistance, public poils), this study empirically analysis the evidence on the incidence of SSF on the rate of change of union membership in four subsectors of the private sector of the Canadian economy (an aggregate of manufacturing, trade, finance and non-agricultural primary industries) during the 1967-1982 period.

In the spirit of the methodology developed by Ashenfelter and Pencavel (1969), Swidinsky (1974), Bain and Elsheikh (1976) and Kumar and Dow (1986), on trade union growth, we estimated an econometric model relating the annual percentage change of union membership in our four subsectors to a group of six explanatory variables: 1) the annual percentage change of total employment; 2) the unemployment rate; 3) the ratio of union membership to total employment (a union density measure); 4) the square of the previous variable; 5) a price and income policy variable; and 6) a measure of the relative importance of small size firms' employment in the four subsectors under study (PE).

Annual percentage change of total employment in the four subsectors of the private sectors is expected to capture the average sensitivity of union membership to total employment growth. Unemployment rate is expected to capture the cycle in the behavior of union membership growth rates. The union density measures account for both density and saturation effects — first, unions to growth need a minimum density, but for already high densities, their growth is expected to slow down. The price and income policy variable effect is unknown a prioriwhile the joint small size firm — total employment change variable — is expected to have a negative sign.

Our estimation results prove to be successful. R2 accounts for 96 °/oof the variance in our dependent variable. AH independent variables are significant according to the conventional statistical standards. Union density variables perform as expected, the inverse U shape peaking at a rate of 27 %. Unemployment strongly and inversely affects the annual rate of change of union membership. The price and income policy was accompanied and followed by a somewhat large increase in union membership.

Finally, while a shift and share approach type was rejected by the model (the variable PE alone was found insignificant), the cross product of our small size firm variable with the rate of change of total employment indicates that, fundamentally, the rate of change of union membership is firstly related to total employment changes, but that the transmission of one to the other strongly depends upon the nature of the new developments in the area of employment growth. Small size firm employment is thus found to reduce the ability of unions to get additional members, leading to a decline in the rate of unionization.