LABR 3Q97: Public Sector Unions Readings Sep 16 th : Ross & Savage, Introduction: Public Sector Unions in Age of Austerity (pgs. 9-17) - Like counterparts around the world, Canada’s public sector unions have been struggling against austerity, privatization, marketization, public-private partnerships, ‘taxpayers’ backlash and restrictions on union rights/freedoms - Growing signs of “reverse class resentment” – the idea that working-class ppl are misdirecting their anger and resentment at union members rather than big business - Public sector unions increasingly cast as defenders of sectional rather than public interest & castigated when they seek to defend their collective agreements - Public sector unions remain central to overall labour movement, rep. wide and diverse group of workers in public admin, health care, education, police, etc. - Public sector unionism is understudied in industrial relations, labour history, labour studies and most social sciences in favour of both craft and industrial unions - In Canadian context, literature on public sector unionism is usually situated in discussion of labour relations, collective bargaining, compensation levels, interest arbitration and right to strike, dominated by labour relations lens - Pubic sector unions discussed in terms of their unique political features by which we mean the kinds of claims made, strategies used & practices adopted to engage in power struggles over place of public sector workers Defining the public sector - Thompson and jalette (2009:406) defined public sector as including federal, provincial and municipal gov’t, crown corporations and health-care and education sectors - Defines public sector in widest possible terms as the sector of the economy concerned w/provision, production, distribution and allocation of pubic goods/services - Roughly 1/5 of Canadian workers employed in broader public sector and of those 70% are members of unions - Late 1960s, private sector unionists dominated labour movement - # of public sector workers formed associations in early 20 th century but these organizations lacked legal force and militant orientation of bona fide labour unions - Postwar period, public sector workers watched private sector counterparts climb economic ladder at accelerated pace thanks to benefits of unionization & collective bargaining - Public sector staff relations act (PSSRA) – 1967 - CUPE was organizing workers in para-public sector at unprecedented rate as witnessed by fact that union’s membership increased from 78,317 to 250,00 (1963 to 1978) - By 1975, almost half of union members worked in the public sector and CUPE became country’s largest union - Argued that relative numerical strength and political-ideological orientation of public sector unions explains both quantitative & qualitative difference in strength of Canadian labour movement in comparison - Important strategic implications for labour movement when growing majority of union members belongs to public sector unions - B/c public sector unionists aren’t employed by private sector capitalists, their work does not produce surplus value in traditional manner understood by Marxist scholars
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- Fall '20
- Trade union, Strike action, public sector unions