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Date: March 3, 2012
Location: The University of Western Ontario, London Ontario

Heenan Blaikie LLP, along with the University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law, are proud sponsors of Faultlines and Borderlines in Labo(u)r Law: The Future of the Wagner Act in Canada and the United States. This event brings together prominent labour law and industrial relations academics, practicing lawyers, chairs of labour relations boards, activists, law students and representatives of employers, unions and governments.”

Conference Description:

Is the Wagner Act model, which has regulated industrial relations in Canada and the United States for decades, now reaching its past-due date?

The Wagner Act (the National Labor Relations Act), adopted by the American Congress in 1935 to provide unionized employees with a state-regulated process for certification and collective bargaining, has been the legislative model for Canadian labour law since the mid-1940s. By the early 1960s, unionization rates under the Wagner Act model had reached 30% in both countries. Since then, unionization has steadily fallen in the United States; by 2011, it stood at only 12%. In Canada, unionization peaked at 38% in the mid-1980s; it now stands at 29%, its lowest levels since the 1950s.

Is labour law at a crisis point in North America? Can the Wagner Act model be revived? What can the American and Canadian experiences teach each other? We have similar labour law histories and industrial relations challenges, and yet our experiences have yielded distinct outcomes.

The Conference is an all-day event commencing at 9:00 am on March 3, 2012. The Conference will be preceded by the Koskie Minsky University Lecture in Labour Law, taking place at 5:00 pm on March 2, 2012. The 2012 Lecture will be delivered by Wilma Liebman, the former Chair of the National Labor Relations Board in the United States. 


to_burkett_b_w_72dpi.jpgBrian Burkett, Co-Chair (Day 2 – March 3, 2012)
Partner, Labour & Employment
Heenan Blaikie LLP

Mr. Burkett concentrates exclusively in the areas of management labour relations and employment law. He represents employers in collective bargaining, arbitration, labour board proceedings, human rights complaints and wrongful dismissal complaints. Furthermore, he offers proactive strategic advice on behalf of employers and employer organizations in both private and public sectors, as well as involvement in the development and design of labour law policy at both the federal and provincial levels.

He is a Fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in the United States. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell, the highest peer review rating awarded to a lawyer for legal skills and sense of ethics. He is

co-author of the book Canadian Labour and Employment Law for the U.S. Practitioner, Second Edition (2006), including the 2010 Supplement, published by BNA Books of Washington, D.C. He is also a co-author of The Littler Mendelson Guide to International Employment and Labor Law- Supplement, published by the law firm Littler Mendelson. He is an associate editor of the Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal and a member of the International Association of Labour Law Journals. He also co-teaches the advanced Labour and Employment Law course at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources.

Mr. Burkett is recognized as a leading practitioner in the field of employment, labour and pensions in Chambers Global (2010 and 2011). He is similarly recognized in all of the following publications:The International Who’s Who of Management Labour & Employment Lawyers, 5th Edition (2011); the Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada published by Lexpert/American Lawyer Media, the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory (2011), and The Best Lawyers in Canada (Woodward/White).

Mr. Burkett sits on the Executive Committee of Ius Laboris, a global alliance of 41 leading management labour and employment law firms and 60 other recommended firms around the world.