Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare,  Trade Unions

Amidst COVID, Unions More Relevant Than Ever

One surprising consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession has been a notable increase in the proportion of employed Canadians who belong to a union. This partly reflects an increase in union organizing among workers who feel unsafe or exploited during the pandemic (in long term care homes, other health facilities, hospitality and retail workplaces, and others). It is also due to the fact that workers without a union have fewer job protections – and hence more of them lost their jobs, more immediately, as the pandemic hit.

Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford recently joined the Out of Left Field podcast to discuss the opportunities for strengthening trade union membership and activism during, and after, the pandemic.

Out of Left Field Podcast

Listen to the full interview here. He argues that the pandemic has reminded workers their ability to achieve safe and secure jobs depends on their ability to come together to exercise collective power.

The interview followed up on Jim’s Labour Day column in the Toronto Star, reporting on the rise in union density under COVID and its implications.


Jim Stanford is Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work. He divides his time between Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada. Jim is one of Canada’s best-known economic commentators. He served for over 20 years as Economist and Director of Policy with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector trade union.