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LS 2A03E - What Do Unions Do - Sept 11.docx

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Labour Studies
Sam Vrankulj

LABOUR STUDIES 2A03E - UNIONS WHAT DO UNIONS DO? – September 11, 2013 - Economic representation of members - Workplace democracy and industrial citizenship - Integration in economic and social structure - Political and social reform - Fostering class consciousness Economic Representation of Members - Achieved through collective bargaining process - Wages and benefits - Employment and income security - Wage/effort norms - Also achieved through the political and social arenas Workplace Democracy and “Industrial Citizenship” - Represent workers “rights” to management - Regulate management authority by counterbalancing management unilateralism - Participative structures to ensure representation - Democratic structures and processes to enable open participation Integration Into Economic and Social Structures - Stabilize and manage labour/management relations through government regulated collective bargaining process - Shape and channel membership discontent (grievance procedure, strikes, etc.) - ‘responsible partners’ in managing economy Political and Social Reform - Social democratic function - Democratization of society through electoral politics, lobbying, coalition building, and build international solidarity Foster Class Consciousness - Historically the “vanguard” of class-based politics - Politicize and mobilize working class - Unions resist and reinforce the capitalist economic and political systems (unequal distribution of resources and inequality of classes) What Mainstream Media Says About Unions - “Unions came into being because they were needed to balance many unfair labour practices. We have excellent labour laws both federally and provincially to protect workers. Unions for the most part have outlived their usefulness”  – BDO Dunwoody/Chamber Weekly CEO Business Leader Poll by COMPASS in the Financial Post May 9, 2005 Injury and Mortality in Ontario Workplaces - On a typical working day/year in Ontario: o One worker dies from a work-related injury (435 fatalities in 2011) o About 370 died from occupational diseases in 2011 o Thirty suffer from permanent disability
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