In 1946, after a bitter 99-day strike that pitted the fledgling United Autoworkers (UAW) Local 200 against the powerful Ford Motor Company in Windsor, Ontario, Justice Ivan Rand of the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a landmark decision. Because the union provides representation to all bargaining unit members, including those who are not union members, it is entitled to receive payment for all the services it provides. No employee is obliged to become a union member; however, the employer deducts union dues at source from the salaries of all bargaining unit employees, whether they are union members or not, and remits these dues to the union.

This decision, which came to be known as the Rand formula, has been upheld and strengthened in court cases and arbitration awards. Nonetheless, and despite popular support, it continues to be challenged–such as with the recent introduction of private members bill C-525.

Recognizing the important role that the Rand formula has played in the lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers, a member of the Workers’ History Museum suggested that it be the focus of an upcoming WHM exhibition.

The subcommittee for the Rand Formula Project has been working diligently ever since. A travelling exhibit will be ready in the fall of 2014 and a documentary will be released in the winter. We are also preparing research notes, educational material including a participant manual, an exhibit and a short documentary film in English and French. The project will include teaching notes for facilitators on union courses and a web-based self-teaching version.

We look forward to presenting this new exhibit and sharing the positive contributions that unions have made to Canada’s social, political, and economic life.