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Labour Unions and the Labour Movement T1 L3.docx

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Labour Studies
Larry Savage

Union roles and functions Labour movement Varieties of unions Union demographic trends Union advantages/disadvantages What is a union? - A union is a collective workers organization - Made up of workers and a have a collective dynamic or aspect to them - Role: to represents employee interests - How? Through collective bargaining (employees give up wage increases in order to keep benefits) - Unions play a big role in the “social wage” - Doesn’t just effects workers in union, effects workers of workers not in a union at all - Reduced work day (now 8 hours) Union roles and functions - Representing members o Collective bargaining (negotiating a contract together) o Grievance handling (disputes or complaints in the workplace, ex. Contract says you get paid for 6 hours no matter what, you get sent home at 3 and they only pay you 3 hours: can go to union and complain) o Organizing (unions go out and organize work places with new members) o Strike action (95% of disputes settled without strikes, 5% there is strikes and lockouts – strike is when workers collective withdraw their labour in order to put pressure on employer) - Establishing workplace citizenship o Collective voice (employees don’t have a voice, union behind them gives them a voice) o Union democracy (union is absolutely controlled by own members – vote who’s in power, vote on strike, etc) - Giving workers a political voice o Electoral politics o Extra-parliamentary activities Local unions and Parent unions - Most of the roles and function of labour unions are carried out by local unions at the level of the workplace (or level of the firm) - Local unions collect dues from members and remit a portion to the parent union - Parent unions provide training, strike support, and other services to local unions - Some parent unions in Canada have international parent unions in the united states - Example: Service Employees International Union (SEIU) o Local SEIU represents Niagara health system  answers to SEIU Canada  SEIU International (Can and inter are parent unions) The Labour Movement - Broad left wing coalition of labour unions who fight for social and economic justice in both the workplace and society in general - Principle of solidarity is key: workers have more in common with workers in other workplaces than own employers - Usually cooperates and organizes through central labour bodies Labour central roles and functions - Provides a united voice for unions - Influences and organizes around government policies - Regulates disputes between member organizations - Provides research and other support to affiliated unions - Carries out its work through local, community-based labour councils Varieties of unions - Private sector unions (unions who work for private, for profit employers) o “industrial” unions (example: uniform represents GM line in st
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