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LS 2A03E - Unions Under Neoliberalism - November 27.docx

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McMaster University
Labour Studies
Sam Vrankulj

LABOUR STUDIES 2A03E – UNIONS UNIONS UNDER NEOLIBERALISM – November 27, 2013 1960s and the Third Wave of Unionism - By late 1960s, union rights extended to public sector - Union membership and density grew - Nationalized labour movement - Shifting gender composition - By mid 1980s, about 3.7 million workers or about 38% union density - Public sector unions largest and majority of unionized labour force 1970s - Period of economic and political turmoil - Inflationary spiral (wages chased prices) - “Profit Squeeze” o Imported goods o Oil shocks o Capital flight - Unemployment State Response - Price and wage controls - Abandonment of Keynesian demand management solutions - Greater reliance on market mechanism to regulate economy - Comprehensive assault on unions Labour Response - National strike in 1976 - Strikes - Wildcats - Labour movement politicization Enter... the Neo-Cons - Unraveling of Post-War Compromise - Rise of neoliberalism in the early 1980s - Thatcher, Reagan, and Mulroney - Harris later in Ontario Neoliberalism - Regulate economy through manipulation of interest rates and not direct investment in job creation - Liberalized trade and investment policies - Tax reduction - Attacks on union rights o Permanent exceptionalism  Introduce regressive labour legislation under the justification of emergency measures - Essential service designation, back to work, price and wage controls Tax Reduction = Decreased Social Programs - Social wage o Attacks on Unemployment Insurance and other labour market supports o Universality - Provision of Public Goods o Vulnerable to budgetary pressure o Privatization “too expensive to deliver” o Driven by “lean principles” Consequences for Public Sector - Government deficits “blamed on big government” o Size and costs - Increase taxes or decrease service - Revenue redirected to capital enhance competitiveness - Privatization, deregulation, and contracting out - Taxation cuts funded through reductions in public service State as Employer - Guarantor of civil liberties and workplace rights and employer - Public service granted unionization rights in 1960s BUT with limits - Those jobs “essential for the safety and security of the public” - No right to strike for those designated “in the government’s own view” as “essential services” - State sets standards as employer Public Sector Workers - All of the following workers: o Crown, provincial, municipal, and regional public servants o School employees o Hospitals o Not for profit corporations funded by the state (day ca
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