Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Doorey on “Forced Listening” and Captive Audience Meetings

D_doorey David Doorey (York Univ. (Canada)) has posted on SSRN his forthcoming piece in the Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal: The Medium and the Anti-Union Message: "Forced Listening" and Captive Audience Meetings.

Here's the abstract:

Employer captive audience meetings (CAMs) are a rare example in which people in a democratic society are forced to listen to opinions of others with which they may strongly disagree. Employees are not chained to a post, but they are nevertheless economically compelled to listen to their employer's anti-union opinions. The uniqueness of being compelled to listen makes the CAM a powerful signaling device through which the message of economic vulnerability is transmitted to employees. The medium (CAMs) is its own message, and it should be regulated as such.

The author explores the extent to which this approach is reflected in current labor law, and finds that the principle approach to CAMs in Canadian labor law is to treat CAMs as “message neutral” event that can “color” the content of the speech made in the meeting. He argues for an approach that treats the CAM as an independent signaling device. This approach would refocus the labor boards' attention on the question of whether CAMs interfere with the formation of unions, and whether permitting employer CAMs advance sound labor policies that are consistent with the values underling the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I have also submitted a paper on captive audience meetings for this journal from the perspective of the United States.  It is interesting to see that many of the same problems that plague the United States in this area also plague Canada. Although I have to note that we would be lucky to have a labor board whose attention we would want to seek out on issues of this kind.


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