Union democracy : a case study of the Manitoba Food and Commercial Workers, Local 832
Van Schie, Shirley
The thesis addresses the issue of whether the nature and extent of democracy within a trade union organization is related to the degree of membership support for the union's policies. The thesis also postulates that the objectives of a trade union shape the nature and extent of internal union democracy. This study attempts to ascertain that greater union democracy would improve a union's strength vis a vis the employers with which it deals, and would consequently improve members' working conditions and benefits. An extensive evaluation of the Manitoba Food and Commercial Workers', Local 832 was undertaken to test the above hypotheses. The relationship between the level of internal democracy and the extent of membership support for union policies and actions was relatively strong, both in the correlation procedures and the regression analysis. The qualitative analysis of specific incidents in the bargaining relationship between the MFCW and Safeway and Westfair also supported the hypothesis that the level of union democracy is related to the degree of support for the union's policies. The hypothesis that greater union democracy would improve members' working conditions and benefits was indirectly supported by the quantitative relationship discovered between the level of democracy and support for union policies. Increased membership support for union policies would aid the Local in attaining the best possible negotiated benefits and working conditions for the members. Finally, some support was found for the hypothesis that trade union objectives and the economic environment shape the nature and extent of internal union democracy. The history of the MFCW's bargaining relationship with Safeway and Westfair lends some support to this hypothesis. The strength of the analysis rests in the comprehensive examination of the organization under study. The major weakness is the lack of comparison between different trade union organizations. A time-series analysis would also have been useful in determining whether initiatives to increase membership support actually influence support levels for union policies.