• Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  Trade Unions

    In a Crisis, You Want Someone at Your Back

    As Canadians celebrated Labour Day, new data indicates that union membership has been growing in Canada (and several other industrial countries) even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world. In this column, originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford argues there is a connection between the current crisis and renewed interest in unions and collective bargaining. Unions are particularly important during tough times, to limit employers’ normal tendencies to try to shift the costs of a downturn onto the backs of their workers. This pandemic has caused a surprising rebound for the unions There won’t be any Labour Day parades this…

  • Inequality,  Labour Standards,  Research,  Trade Unions

    The Surprising Resilience of Trade Unionism in Canada

    Trade unions in Canada and globally have been on the defensive for years. Economic and political cultural changes have tended to undermine the power, visibility, and viability of trade unions and traditional forms of collective bargaining. As a result, union density (the proportion of workers with the protection of a union and a collective agreement) has declined in most countries through the neoliberal era. Canadian unions are not immune to these challenges. However, comparative data compiled by Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford provides surprising evidence that despite these challenges, Canadian unions have exerted a relatively stable influence on wages, income distribution, and labour policies. This helps to explain…

  • COVID,  Employment & Unemployment,  Future of Work,  Labour Standards,  Research

    Rebuilding Canada’s Economy Must Start with Rebuilding Work

    The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have shone an unforgiving spotlight on several long-standing fractures in Canada’s labour market. Repairing those structural weaknesses is an essential precondition for re-opening the economy — and keeping it open — once the immediate health emergency passes and we start heading back to work. Failing to address those challenges will amplify the consequences of this crisis for millions of Canadians, as well as our overall social and economic stability. And it will leave us more vulnerable to the next pandemic, or comparable shock of some other sort. Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford was invited to participate in a new project, Rebuild…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Future of Work,  Labour Standards

    rabble.ca Podcast with Jim Stanford on Making Work Better After COVID

    The Canadian on-line news site rabble.ca has produced a new podcast from a presentation which Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford recently gave to rabble’s Members’ Council. The presentation draws on the Centre’s recent report, Ten Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic Must Change Work for Good. To hear or download the full podcast, please visit rabble’s podcast page here: Economist Jim Stanford talks about the future of work — during COVID-19 times and beyond.

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Future of Work,  Labour Standards

    There are Opportunities as Well as Threats for Workers in the COVID-19 Recession

    The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis poses many obvious threats to workers in all industries: job loss, reduced hours, employer demands for concessions in wages and benefits… and of course the risk of contracting the virus at work. However, the pandemic is also highlighting long-standing weaknesses in Canada’s labour market structures and policies – and opening promising opportunities to win improvements in those structures and policies. Journalist Chelsea Nash, labour beat reporter with the Canadian digital news site rabble.ca, has published an inspiring article discussing those opportunities, and analyzing what unions and equality advocates will need to do to make the most of them. Her article features extensive quotes…

  • Commentary,  Labour Standards,  Wages

    There’s no Shortage of Labour: Employers Have to Improve their Offer

    As the COVID-19 recession continues to destroy jobs and incomes across Canada, some employer lobbyists are complaining that federal government income security programs (like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB) are undermining the “incentive to work” and making it difficult to attract workers to their businesses. In this column, originally published in the Toronto Star, Jim Stanford refutes these complaints – and suggests that the CERB is placing desired pressure on employers to improve the wages and hours they are offering to prospective workers.   Employer Complaints About CERB Expose Their Exploitive Staffing Model As health restrictions ease and stores, restaurants, and other services start to reopen, some employers…

  • COVID,  Employment & Unemployment,  Future of Work,  Income Security,  Labour Standards,  Research

    Ten Ways to Improve Work After COVID-19 Pandemic

    Governments, employers, and unions must all work urgently to address several critical weaknesses in Canada’s employment laws and policies to ensure the post-COVID re-opening of the economy can be safe and sustained. That’s the core message of a new research report from the Centre for Future Work. The report is the first publication from the Centre’s new PowerShare research program, undertaken in partnership with the Atkinson Foundation and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The study, by the Centre’s Director Jim Stanford, lists 10 specific ways jobs need to be protected and strengthened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down large sections of the national economy.…

  • Commentary,  Future of Work,  Labour Standards,  Time & Working Hours

    Working From Home Helps, but is No Panacea

    A version of this commentary originally appeared in the Toronto Star. Millions of Canadians have been doggedly working from home through the pandemic. It’s inspired endless memes and laments on social media: Zoom meetings in pyjamas, kids running amok with office papers, super-sized data and electricity bills. To be sure, there are many economic benefits of home work. It maintains at least partial production, while respecting physical distancing and flattening the curve. On one hand, those who can work from home are lucky. They keep earning, but without the risks of infection facing those who must go out to work. But there are also many challenges and risks associated with…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  Public Sector Work

    Trust has Hard, Economic Value

    The COVID-19 pandemic has proven, again, that society is not actually built around individuals all out to maximize their self-interest (as in the neoclassical fable). It works best with cooperation, reciprocity and trust. Valuing and investing in social trust is not a “feel-good” sentiment. It’s a proven, real source of economic and social advantage. Jim Stanford explores the economic value of trust, in this commentary which was originally published by the Toronto Star. The Economic Importance of Social Trust It was like a scene from a zombie movie: crowds of screaming protestors charged the doors of state legislatures in several U.S. states, opposing physical distancing restrictions. Many of them believe…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  Wages

    Pandemic Forces Us to Rethink What Jobs are Worth

    This commentary originally appeared in the Toronto Star. After COVID-19, We Need to Appreciate and Value Essential Work In any public emergency, like the COVID-19 pandemic, society naturally turns to tried-and-true public service professionals for advice, protection, and care. First and foremost, we depend on health care workers risking their own well-being to care for the ill – even in chaotic and over-crowded conditions. Other first responders provide emergency assistance. Utility workers keep the lights on, the water flowing, the mail delivered, and the garbage collected. These jobs are critically important. These workers can’t take leave. They can’t work from home. Not coincidentally, most of these jobs are in the…