Avec les développements de la législation, le syndicalisme a perdu son caractère d'institution strictement privée et volontaire. Il a acquis un caractère semi-public. Dans quelle mesure la confessionnalité syndicale peut-elle être compatible avec un tel régime juridique? Les tribunaux n'ont pas encore eu à se prononcer sur ce point. L'auteur analyse ici les différentes mesures législatives et les pratiques syndicales qui peuvent affecter la confessionnalité; il donne également une opinion doctrinale sur cette question.
With the development of labour legislation, unionism has lost its character of a purely private and voluntary organization. It now has the status of a semi-public institution. Confessional unionism, under these conditions, can no longer stand the test of legality, even if the courts have never been called to rule on this question.
Among the laws which we have to consider here, the Labour Relations Act is the most important. This act gives to one union only the right to bargain for and on behalf of all workers in a bargaining unit. If one wants to become an efficient member of a union, he has to join the local which represents him and his fellow workers in the plant where he is employed. Moreover, compulsory membership is commonly observed in collective labour agreements as a condition of employment. The natural right of association is thus limited in fact to those who may, without making it a point of conscience, freely accept the constitution and by-laws of a union.
Local unions which require a worker to be a Catholic as a condition of membership are very seldom, but the sole fact that the Canadian and Catholic Confederation of Labour has a reference in its constitution to the social doctrine of the Catholic Church may bring a worker to scruple to belong to an affiliated local of this central body. The question of what may be a matter of conscience in this case is related to the fact that the interpretation of the doctrine is considered by non-catholics as vested with an outside organization, i.e. the Church. If the constitution of the union merely referred to the Christian social principles as the basic guide of its action, it would be a quite different thing, because this would involve no outside opinion and would be acceptable to anyone in a Christian country such as Canada.
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DION, GÉRARD, L.Th., L.Ph., M.Sc. Soc., directeur du département des relations industrielles et professeur à la Faculté des sciences sociales de l'Université Laval, Québec.