• Research,  Technology,  Trade Unions

    Shocking Economic Facts Behind the BC Ports Dispute

    The work stoppage at BC ports has sparked predictable rhetoric from employer groups and pro-business commentators and politicians. They claim longshore workers are greedy and resistant to change, and must be forced back to work through legislation, in order to protect the national economy. This argument has it exactly backwards. It is the shipping companies and terminal operators whose greed has disrupted Canada’s economy, including by contributing to the worst inflation in decades. And it is their resistance to change – in particular, opposing more stable and efficient ways to support training, skills, and stability in longshore work – that is the only barrier to a quick settlement. In this…

  • Commentary,  Future of Work,  Technology,  Time & Working Hours,  Uncategorized

    Ontario’s ‘Right-to-Disconnect’ is no Such Thing

    The Ford government in Ontario, portraying itself as being on “the side of workers,” recently passed legislation setting out certain requirements for some businesses in the province regarding expectations of workers’ availability outside of normal working hours. This legislation has been widely, but very inaccurately, reported as a “right to disconnect.” Some coverage has even fawned that Ontario is now the first jurisdiction in North America to protect this right. This claim is transparently false – and individuals who (wrongly) believe that such a right exists might take actions (such as refusing instructions from their employer) that could jeopardize their employment. The Ontario law simply requires that firms with over…

  • Employment & Unemployment,  Future of Work,  Research,  Technology

    Canadian Workers Need More Technology, Not Less

    There is little evidence that robots and other advanced technologies are displacing workers and causing technological unemployment in Canada. To the contrary, Canada’s adoption of new technology has surprisingly slowed down in recent years. That is the conclusion of a major new report on innovation and automation in Canada’s economy, from the Centre for Future Work. The report, titled Where are the Robots?, reviews nine empirical indicators of Canadian innovation, technology adoption, and robotization. They paint a worrisome picture that Canadian businesses have dramatically reduced their innovation effort since the turn of the century, and are lagging well behind other industrial countries in putting new technology to work in the…

  • Commentary,  Future of Work,  Technology

    Busting Myths about Technology and the Future of Work

    We are constantly told that ‘technology’ is driving profound changes in work, workplaces and society. We might be concerned about the impacts of some of those changes, but since they are the result of ‘technology,’ and everyone since the Luddites knows you can’t stop technology, there is no point trying to resist or ameliorate those changes. But what is ‘technology’, anyway? We don’t live in the world of Terminator, where machines control society (not yet, anyway!). Technology is just a shorthand way of referring to the composite of human knowledge about how we work, what we produce, and the tools we use to produce it. Human beings, not some irresistible exogenous…

  • Commentary,  PowerShare,  Skills & Training,  Technology,  Trade Unions

    Media and Video Coverage of New PowerShare Report: “Bargaining Tech”

    The Centre for Future Work recently released the third major paper in its PowerShare project, titled “Bargaining Tech: Strategies for Shaping Technological Change to Benefit Workers,” by Jim Stanford and Kathy Bennett.  The report was launched with a special webinar, held in conjunction with the recent (online) convention of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The webinar featured presentations by the authors, who were joined by two Canadian union leaders who have confronted the challenges of new technology with innovative collective bargaining strategies: Jan Simpson, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and Bob Dhaliwal, Secretary-Treasurer of ILWU-Canada (representing longshore workers and other transportation and logistics industries). The webinar…

  • PowerShare,  Research,  Technology,  Time & Working Hours,  Trade Unions

    Bargaining Tech: Shaping New Technologies to Improve Work, not Devalue It

    The Centre for Future Work has published another major paper in its PowerShare project, dealing with the impact of new technology on the quantity and quality of work in Canada – and strategies for ensuring that new technology produces more benefits for workers. The paper is entitled Bargaining Tech: Strategies for Shaping Technological Change to Benefit Workers, co-authored by Jim Stanford and Kathy Bennett. It provides an overview of the complex, contradictory ways that technological change is affecting jobs in Canada. It also discusses how technology could be better managed and implemented to achieve better, fairer, more inclusive high-tech outcomes. The report reviews recent debates about whether new technology will…

  • Commentary,  Skills & Training,  Technology

    Video: Myth & Reality About Technology, Skills & Jobs

    We are constantly told that the world of work is being turned upside down by ‘technology’: some faceless, anonymous, uncontrollable force that is somehow beyond human control. There’s no point resisting this exogenous, omnipresent force. The best thing to do is get with the program… and learn how to program! Acquiring the right skills (usually assumed to be STEM or computer skills) is the best way to protect yourself in this brave new high-tech future. But what if technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? And what if you invest in learning the current hot coding language, only to see it replaced by something totally different as soon as…

  • Research,  Technology

    Thinking Twice About Technology and the Future of Work

    It is often assumed that changes in the future of work are determined by the inexorable process of technological progress. In this report, originally published by the Public Policy Forum, our Director Jim Stanford challenges that assumption. Technology is not neutral or exogenous: the direction of innovation reflects the interests of those funding it. And how technology is implemented in workplaces has many important implications for the quality, stability, and compensation of work. In short, important choices can be made at each step of the process of technological change, that will reflect the relative emphasis that society places on valuing work and workers. Please read the full report, Thinking Twice…

  • Gig Economy,  Research,  Technology

    Five Contrarian Insights on the Future of Work

    In this comprehensive but readable commentary, our Director Jim Stanford challenges five stereotypical claims that are often advanced in debates over the future of work:   Work is not disappearing; it can’t. Technology is not accelerating. “Gigs” aren’t even new. Technology is often more about relationships than productivity. Skills are not a magic bullet. The commentary was prepared for the My Labour, Our Future conference held in Montreal, Canada to mark the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the International Labour Organization. We thank the organizers and the Atkinson Foundation for permission to repost the paper. Five Contrarian Insights on the Future of Work