Genèse et mutation de la Loi sur les décrets de convention collective au Québec (1934-2010)

Rouillard, Jacques
November 2011
Labour / Le Travail;Fall2011, Vol. 68, p9
Academic Journal
The Act on the legal extension of labor collective agreements was adopted by the Quebec government in 1934 to protect workers affected by the economic crisis and to help them to organize in unions. Promoted by Catholic unions, it bears a unique model of labor relations that does not prevail elsewhere in North America. The law, which relies on labor-management cooperation, allows the government by decree to extend a collective agreement concluded by a union to all firms of an industry in a given territory. His philosophy originated from the social doctrine of the Catholic Church with the ultimate goal of setting up professional corporations, the basic unit of corporatist society. The law passed a year before the Wagner Act, the "Magna Carta" of organized labor in the United States, that inspired the adoption of a law with the same principles in Quebec in 1944. This law provides stiff competition to the law of decrees that remains, however, in industries where competition is strong and where labor means a large part of production costs. In the 1970s, the law is experiencing a renewed interest by unions and industrial relations specialists to facilitate union recognition by areas or by many employers in the same bargaining unit. The highly decentralized bargaining framework of the Labor Code was seen not well suitable to the evolution of the labor market. Since the 1980s, the decree system is harm by the liberalization of labor relations in the wake of neo liberalism. In this mood, the government abolished the decrees regulating the work of 23 000 employees in the garment industry. In Quebec as elsewhere, the whole system of labor relations born in the 1930s is eroded as the government is swayed by the deregulation of collective labor relations.


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