• Employment & Unemployment,  Research,  Trade Unions,  Wages

    Alberta’s Disappearing Advantage for Workers

    Alberta once boasted the highest wages in Canada. It was known as a place where working people could find a job, earn decent wages, and build a good life for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, this “Alberta Advantage” has mostly disappeared. Average wages have declined by 10% relative to inflation over the last decade, far more than in any other province. This negative result was not an accident: provincial policies in Alberta have worked to deliberately suppress wages, through measures like a six-year freeze in the minimum wage (now tied for lowest in Canada), restrictions on union organizing and collective bargaining, and very austere wage gains for public sector workers.

  • Research,  Trade Unions

    New Report on the Benefits of Broader-Based and Sectoral Collective Bargaining

    In recent years, labour relations experts have expressed growing interest in the potential of broader-based bargaining systems – which would cover workers in entre industries, regions, or occupations, rather than individual workplaces – to improve the effectiveness of union representation and collective bargaining. By negotiating common benchmarks for wages, benefits and working conditions that apply to all employers in a given segment of the economy, these sectoral or broader bargaining systems can prevent a ‘race to the bottom’ in job quality...

  • Commentary,  Trade Unions,  Wages

    Workers Strike Back

    Some observers called 2023 the Year of the Strike, and at times that moniker was fitting. Across a wide range of industries, workers hit the picket lines to support demands for pay increases that kept up with surging inflation. Over the first nine months of 2023 (the latest data at time of writing), Canada lost a total of 2.2 million work days to work stoppages...

  • Commentary,  Industry & Sector,  Trade Unions

    On Canadian Unionism, History, and Phony Horse-Races

    Auto unions in both Canada and the U.S. are currently engaged in high-stakes negotiations with the three major North American automakers (GM, Ford, and Stellantis – formerly Chrysler). The two unions have similar goals: to make sure workers share in the gains these companies are making. It’s important to know the different histories, structures, and cultures of the two unions, before making any simplistic comparisons between them. Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford considers those differences in this commentary, originally published by rabble.ca.

  • Inequality,  Research,  Trade Unions

    Union Coverage and Inequality in Canada

    International evidence attests to the positive role of trade unions and collective bargaining in lifting wages and economic security for workers, and reducing inequality – both within workplaces, and across society. In this article, originally published in Jacobin magazine, labour law professor David Doorey (from York University) and Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford present Canadian data on the link between the strength of the union movement and trends in income inequality. The material was prepared for the forthcoming third edition of Doorey’s best-selling labour law textbook, The Law of Work.

  • 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…

  • COVID,  Future of Work,  Research,  Trade Unions

    The Future of Working from Home

    The historic expansion of remote and home work during the first stages of the COVID pandemic was both extraordinary and vitally important in helping families, and the economy, through the challenges of that crisis. Some two-thirds of employed Canadians worked totally or mostly from home at some point during the pandemic. Remote work was essential to preserving incomes, maintaining economic activity, and providing essential services at a time when face-to-face encounters were potentially deadly.