• Commentary,  Globalization,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare

    Global Manifesto to Democratize Work

    The COVID pandemic has painfully reminded us of the lack of genuine power that most workers have in their working lives. As soon as COVID began to spread, it was immediately obvious that workplaces were very vulnerable to contagion – yet employers and government regulators were very slow to address the threat with adequate and meaningful protective measures. Compelled by economic necessity, and lacking organized voice and bargaining power, workers literally risk their lives to continue performing their duties – often for poverty-level wages, in dangerous conditions. If workers had real say over how their workplaces operate, they could demand and win obvious and important changes to make their jobs…

  • Commentary,  PowerShare,  Trade Unions

    Maclean’s Annual Chartbook: A Surprising Rebound in Canadian Union Density

    Each December, Maclean’s magazine publishes a compendium of charts, prepared by a range of economists and financial analysts, highlighting the most important trends to watch in the coming year. This year’s Charts to Watch collection featured a contribution from Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford on the recent rebound in the proportion of Canadian workers who belong to a union. The chart draws on previous Centre for Future Work research into the resilience of Canadian trade union membership, which has been more stable than union density in many other industrial countries. A unionization rebound Source: Statistics Canada Table 14-10-0069-01. 2020 first 9 months. Canada’s trade unions have fought for…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare,  Trade Unions

    Amidst COVID, Unions More Relevant Than Ever

    One surprising consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession has been a notable increase in the proportion of employed Canadians who belong to a union. This partly reflects an increase in union organizing among workers who feel unsafe or exploited during the pandemic (in long term care homes, other health facilities, hospitality and retail workplaces, and others). It is also due to the fact that workers without a union have fewer job protections – and hence more of them lost their jobs, more immediately, as the pandemic hit. Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford recently joined the Out of Left Field podcast to discuss the opportunities for strengthening trade…

  • Commentary,  COVID,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare,  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,  PowerShare,  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…

  • Commentary,  Future of Work,  Labour Standards,  PowerShare,  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,  Future of Work,  Gig Economy,  PowerShare

    Future of Work: Some Things Change, Some Things Don’t

    There’s been a lot of public concern and discussion in recent years about changes in the nature of work. To be sure, new technologies are changing many jobs, and new business models (like digital on-demand platforms) are deploying labour in new, ever-less-secure ways. But productive human labour, broadly defined, is still the driving force of all production. And inequality in fundamental economic status – between those who work, and those they work for – still shapes the way society operates. In this commentary, Jim Stanford identifies 7 aspects of work that have not really changed, despite the hype about the supposedly tectonic changes in the labour market. A version of…