Employers in Quebec: What Logic of Action at the Sectoral Level?

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW2.3.02 (Tower Two)
Melanie Laroche, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada
Jean Charest, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada
Our paper presents the results of a study on the logics of employer representation and action in Canada.  Our research program examines Canadian employer associations and their capacity to use power resources. The objective is twofold: first, to identify the logics of representation in terms of the nature and structure of these associations; and, second, to analyze their logics of action in the areas of collective labour relations and labour regulation. Overall, our study seeks to: 1) identify the logics of employer representation, i.e. the logics underlying its various organizational forms (what are they, how are they structured, at what levels do they take action?); 2) analyze their logics of action in the areas of collective labour relations and labour regulation (what are their objectives and modes of action?) by focusing particularly on their capacity to influence in these areas; and, 3) develop a typology of organizational forms and purposes of what generally constitutes an employer organization in Canada.

Employers’ organizations in Quebec wield considerable influence, in particular because of the different levels at which employer associations are organized (provincial, sectoral, regional, and even local) and the various forms they adopt for the effective promotion of employers’ interests. Moreover, regional and sectoral employer associations are grouped within provincial (Quebec) or national (Canadian) associations, the most important of which is the Conseil du patronat du Québec, an employer confederation recognized by some as a veritable think tank (Graefe, 2004). Our paper will highlight the fragmented and diversified nature of employer representation in Quebec.

Our paper will present the sectoral employer associations which are particularly active in Quebec through the social consultation structure established in the 1970s and which has led the social partners to take action in the area of labour regulation.  We find that these associations can also form links with different groups, in particular think tanks, lobbying firms and research institutes. In terms of social consultation, employer associations must also collaborate with various groups, in particular, trade unions, and also civil society associations, educational institutions and government representatives.  Our paper will focus more particularly on the results of case studies conducted in the mining, hotel and aerospace industries, in order to better understand how employer associations use their power resources (both internal and external) to influence their institutional environment.  We will explore five particular aspects of employer representation 1) the logic of representation of employer associations (the nature and logic of membership, the degree of control required); 2) the logic of sectoral action of these associations (the types of interests defended, the services offered); 3) the influence of power resources (both internal and external); 4) the bidirectional influence between an employer association and its members; and 5) the dissemination mechanisms used by an association to reach its members.