The unionization rate for NL in 2001 stood at 40. Indeed for the third time since the labor force survey has included this statistic, NL had the second highest rate in Canada. Quebec's was the highest in 2001 at 40.42%. Stats Canada also shows NL to have the highest unionization rate in the public sector per capita in Canada.
In order to appreciate why Newfoundland has such a high unionization rate, the industries which currently have high unionization rates, and the history of Newfoundland Labor movement, need to be considered respectively. The industries which currently have high unionization rates, are Public Administration (70.89%), Health and Social Assistance (65.51%), Educational Services (79.53%), Manufacturing (54.09%), Transportation and Warehousing (46.3%), Forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas (46.88%). Industries such as Retail, Finance, Trade, Real Estate and Accommodations, which have a low unionization rate, were not historically part of the Newfoundland Labor Movement.
Labor legislation in Union/Non-Union environment is divided amongst Federal/Provincial jurisdictions and further segregated into Public/Private sectors. Government in each jurisdiction creates special regulatory bodies to enforce compliance with the law and it's interpretation. .
The Newfoundland Labor Movement.
Newfoundland Workers demonstrated in early days of settlement they were willing to take collective action to defend their interests. In the early hours of February 18th, 1832, a band of more than one hundred armed men boarded the schooner Perseverance lying to at the wharf in Harbour Grace. With saws and hatchets they hacked and slashed the vessel's rigging, masts, yards and gaffs. This incident was the first sealers strike recorded in Newfoundland history. The first trades to organize unions were shipwrights in 1851 and seal skinners in 1854. These early unions protected its members by keeping them in short supply.