Labour dispute kept CNE customers away

The Canadian National Exhibition was marred by a labour dispute this year.

This year’s edition of the annual end-of-summer celebration saw the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union members walk the picket line at the front gates of the CNE.

Strikes are always disruptive and potentially costly events. It was predicted that the CNE may have lost up to $1.5 million in tickets sales as many regular customers didn’t want to cross the picket line.

Now here is the very interesting part about the strike. It directly affected the CNE, but the striking workers are not CNE employees. The IATSE union members work for Exhibition Place, the location where the CNE is held.  The IATSE members are concerned that their jobs are being contracted out to private companies and their union members are going to lose their jobs. The CNE is not a party to the labour dispute, yet they were caught in the middle of it.

This particular strike makes the HR person reflect and think about how important it is to understand the labour laws where your company works.  Your organization may not be unionized, but union disputes may have an impact on your business.

Discussion questions:

In these articles it is suggested that the CNE hired outside workers to come into the CNE and set up the stages. Review your provincial Labour Relations Act and determine if it is legal for an employer whose workers are on strike to hire replacement workers.

  • Why is the issue of contracting out work such a contentious issue in most labour relation negotiations?
  • In this case, did the CNE have any legal right to prevent the IATSE union members from picketing the CNE?

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