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LS 2A03E - Union Democracy and Equity Continued - October 2, October 9.docx

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Labour Studies
Sam Vrankulj

LABOUR STUDIES 2A03E – UNIONS UNION DEMOCRACY AND EQUITY CONTINUED – October 2/ 9, 2013 Typical National Union Structure Parent Union - Take wages and working conditions out competition - Organize the unorganized - Collective bargaining, grievance, and arbitration support - Strike assistance - Political representation of local interests - International role Union Federations Measures of Democratic Vitality - Legalistic o Voting behaviour - Costs of Participation o Reprisal free? - Existence of Oppositional Forces o Extent to which democratic rights are utilized - Leadership Responsiveness o Degree to which leadership reflect values and priorities of membership Member Apathy - Estimates of only 1-3% actively participate in their union - Low meeting attendance - High acclamation rates - Poor knowledge if union matters - Low levels of member participation in mobilization efforts How Do Unions Maintain and Increase Participation? Broaden Opportunities for Participation - Reflect member characteristics in union business o Language o Culture o Union/life balance - Increase informal and non-electoral opportunities of participation Reflect Membership Diversity In Union Leadership - Create opportunities to encourage participation - Tolerance and support of all members o Advocates o Training o Education Factors Influencing Union Democracy - Union Homogeneity o Occupation o Age o Gender o Ethnicity o Higher the convergence and commonality of interests the greater potential for consensus Degree of Centralization - Political power - Bargaining structure - Distribution of union resources Constitution - Defines rights - Defines representative structure - Defines democratic process and mechanisms for member participation - Policing and enforcement provisions to check and counteract abuses of power o Secret ballot votes, constraints on autonomous leadership action, transparency, etc. Education - Widely accessible to all members - Scope and content of curriculum - Does it build internal capacity? o Leadership o Activism o Culture and solidarity o Skills and knowledge to assume roles within union Size - Does size matter o Too large  Decrease opportunities for individual members to participate o Too small  Fewer opportunities for individual members to parti
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