• 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.

  • Research,  Trade Unions,  Wages

    Sector Bargaining and Broader Based Bargaining

    Labour advocates and researchers around the world have been investigating the possibility of new systems of broader based collective bargaining, as a promising strategy for reversing the decline in collective bargaining coverage which has occurred in many countries. Sectoral, occupational, and other broader-based bargaining systems allow negotiations to occur at more than one workplace or enterprise at a time: across occupations, sectors, or regions. They can allow bargainers to establish common terms across multiple worksites – such as covering all franchises within a large commercial chain. And by establishing terms and conditions that apply evenly across broader sets of businesses, broader based bargaining does not disadvantage any particular company or…

  • Commentary,  Inflation,  Macroeconomics,  Trade Unions,  Wages

    Podcast: Rising Inflation Creates Tension in Collective Bargaining

    With year-over-year inflation topping 8%, far in advance of nominal wage gains, workers in all parts of Canada’s economy are struggling to protect their real living standards. Real wages have declined by more than 3% in the last 12 months alone, with further erosion pegged in the months ahead. Collective bargaining tables in both the private and public sectors have been roiled by the acceleration in inflation. Workers are determined to try to keep up with inflation. And that determination is only heightened by the fact that corporate profits have increased so strongly alongside the rise in consumer prices. Some major strikes have already occurred (such as in Ontario’s construction…

  • Commentary,  Labour Standards,  Trade Unions

    Facilitating Workers’ Choice to Get Together

    It’s no surprise that more workers seek the bargaining power and protection that comes with a union: to try to make sure their wages keep up with inflation, they are safe from COVID at work, and more. But often it takes an epic battle, like something out of a Hollywood movie, to achieve that goal. That’s because of multiple barriers erected in the path of unionization, by employers who want to preserve their unilateral control in the workplace. In this commentary, originally published in the Toronto Star, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford discusses why unionization is so difficult, and what policies would facilitate fairer and more democratic certification…

  • 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…

  • Industry & Sector,  Research,  Trade Unions,  Wages

    Solid Wage Gains for Construction Workers Needed to Cement Productivity Gains

    Paycheques for workers in Ontario’s booming construction industry are coming up short despite surging productivity and a sharp rise in building activity, a new report from the Centre for Future Work shows. Relative to consumer prices, the real purchasing power of construction wages has been stagnant in recent years even though real labour productivity in the sector has grown very strongly. Workers are generating more output and revenue for their employers, but not getting their fair share of the value they’re creating. Nominal wages in construction grew at an average rate of 1.9% over the last five years, considerably slower than broader wages in Ontario’s labour market (which grew at…

  • Economic Literacy,  Research,  Trade Unions

    Ideas Into Motion: Progressive Economics and Social Change Movements

    Our research at the Centre for Future Work is motivated by a deep commitment to improving the jobs, working conditions, and living standards of working people in Canada and around the world. We combine our knowledge of economics, our quantitative and qualitative research, and our connections with trade unionists and social movements to develop arguments and evidence that supports campaigns for decent work, stronger communities, and sustainability. Our Director, Dr. Jim Stanford, was recently asked to contribute his ideas on the links between progressive economics and real-world social change movements for a forthcoming collection: The Handbook of Alternative Theories of Political Economy, edited by Frank Stilwell, Tim Thornton, and David…

  • Commentary,  Future of Work,  PowerShare,  Trade Unions

    Our Times Feature Article on PowerShare Voice Report

    The Spring 2021 edition of the Canadian labour magazine Our Times features a cover article on workers’ voice: how Canadian workers can express their concerns, and win meaningful change, in their workplaces. The article is based on the recent Centre for Future Work report, Speaking Out, Being Heard, Making Change: The Theory and Practice of Workers’ Voice in Canada, by Jim Stanford and Daniel Poon. That report was published earlier this year as part of our PowerShare project. With the kind permission of Our Times, we are reposting the feature article here. Please see the 5-page article, which is a useful resource for union educationals, train-the-trainer sessions, and other uses:…

  • 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…