Sept. 13, 2023, The Conversation

By Associate Professor, Labour studies, Brock University and Professor, Labour Studies, Brock University

Picket lines are often the most visible feature of a labour dispute. And with the recent uptick in strike action across the country — from port workers in British Columbia to grocery chain employees in Toronto — Canadians have been more likely than usual to encounter one.

Picket lines are meant to disrupt business as usual, rally support and communicate a message — all in an effort to increase pressure on employers to reach a negotiated settlement.

While picketing is a legal expressive activity, how the right to picket squares with property rights and civil rights is not straightforward.

The common view is that while picketers may carry signs, they may not — or at least, should not — prevent others from crossing picket lines. The reality is more complicated.

Picketing is almost exclusively regulated by courts.

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