Commentary,  COVID,  Trade Unions

What’s a Union Good For, Anyway?

Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford recently joined Colin Ellis from TVO for a podcast conversation on unions: What are they? Why are they useful? And why, in the wake of the COVID pandemic, are we seeing an upsurge in union organizing efforts in Canada and other countries?

Their conversation is a great primer on why most workers have little bargaining power if engage with their employer one-on-one. There’s an inherent asymmetry in the employment relationship: most workers need their job, more than their employer needs them on an individual basis. But employers do need their workforce in aggregate, to operate their business – and that’s why collective representation and bargaining helps to level the playing field.

Listen to Jim and Colin’s full conversation here, along with Colin’s impressions of the recent Netflix documentary American Factory. This and other episodes of the OnDocs podcast series are available at the TVO site.

Jim Stanford is Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work. He divides his time between Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada. Jim is one of Canada’s best-known economic commentators. He served for over 20 years as Economist and Director of Policy with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector trade union.