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Week 7 - Jan 27, 28 & 30 -- Moving The Goods

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McMaster University
Labour Studies
John Barkans

LABR ST 2G03 – LECTURE – February 24, 25, &27, 2014 LECTURE: FEB 24 GLOBAL “NORTH”… continued - Consequence of deindustrialization for trade unions is a loss in membership - Increase difficulty for trade unions in the North to organize new members from firms who are not unionized yet o Insecurity: capital flight if unionize o Threats by employers to those who want to unionize - [Some woman studied 30 years of] Nation Labour Board organization campaigns in private sector USA o Identified standard practice that workers threatened, harassed, retaliations, and capital leaves o 57% of cases where unions tried to organize, employers threatened plant closures and relocations (unfair labour practice) o 34% of cases, workers are illegally fired/discharged (unfair labour practice) o Employers opposition to unionization has intensified over time  Percentage of threats and firings have increased to 57% and 34% respectively since her first study  Employers who did not previously engage in these practices have started to • To be more competitive with those big chains that do (e.g. Walmart) o Increases in trade and globalization has heightened insecurity of capital flight - Manufacturing jobs used to be the good jobs and source of strength of trade unions in the North o Trade union crisis created (due to membership loss)  Union density has declined - Service sector feeling same hit as manufacturing o Increased technology o Gats o Allows to outsource service jobs  Call centers  Customer service  Data collection o Lowered union density - Some countries in the Global North more affected than others o Canada is doing pretty well (even though lower union density)  Went from 40% to just over 30%  Substantial decline, by slow and gradual from the 1980s o USA  Went from 35% (1950s) to 11.3% (now) - Led to portions of labour movements calling for a new strategy of emphasizing land lock industry service sector o Examples  Health care workers  Emergency services  Janitors/Cleaning services (J for J – Justice for Janitors)  Casino workers o Led a split in organized labour o Strategy issue: might not be able to outsource these land lock jobs, but could contract out these jobs  Hard to organize these workers with the fear of contracting out  Downward pressure on wages and benefits o All private sectors have become vulnerable to global processes - All jobs (manufacturing and service sector) are affected by globalization, which is reflected in the decrease of union density - In private sector jobs, less than 18% workers are unionized in Canada, less than 7% in USA - In public sector jobs, just over 70% workers unionized, slightly over 35% in USA o A little more protected, but increasing pressure being placed - [Peck & Theodore -- reading] Contingent Work Strategies o Privatization  Ex. garbage collectors in Toronto has been privatized o Outsourcing o Part time/work share o Temp Agencies/Contract workers o Independent Contractors  Re-classification of worker  Tax eluding  Has to pay own benefits  Risk from employer given to worker  Employers evade legal liabilities o Ways to decrease union organization o Allowed to unionize, but it’s increasingly difficult o Undermine efforts to collectively organize LECTURE: FEB 25 GLOBAL “NORTH”… continued - Day labour o Respective employers take you to a job on a day to day basis o Used to be in gateway cities (e.g. New York City), now also in smaller communities - Breakdown of Golden Era Fordist system and internal labour markets - Contingent work strategies are becoming the norm in a reorganized labour market in the Global North, rather than Fordist o Fordist labour markets used to be seen as progressive  Rule making sites • Push up labour standards • Healthy benefits and wages, and union coverage o Fordist labour market now seen as outdated  Contingent/casual types of jobs now becoming the rule making sites • Pushing standards down - How do you organize contingent labourers? o Worker centres as an attempt to organize and help o Worker centres and trade unions together would be ideal harmony  Centres can do things trade unions can’t, and can’t do things trade union can  But… Trade union bureaucratic/hierarchy based; centres are flat organizations • Trade see centres chaotic; centres seen trade unions as rigid - Strategy for under-developed areas in Global North (in reading for this week!) o Call centre strategy (New Brunswick) o Similar to EPZ in Global South  o Different to EPZ in Global South  MOVING THE GOODS - Increased amount of trade; Fordist system broken up and sent to different parts of world; big change in how goods are produced and transported (logistics revolution) - Response to problem of matching supply with demand with keeping costs low at the same time o Bridge the gap between supply in demand for efficiently and effectively - Key part of this is transportation o How move cheaply and quickly to where products/supplies are needed - Key players: shipping industry and docking - Shipping industry o 90% of world trade is brought in through shipping industry o Almost everything at some point travels over the ocean in shipping containers o Since 1970, trade carried by sea has increase x4; USA alone in 2011 in commercial ports, took in international transports $1.73 trillion – 80x volume in 1960 o Maersk Is largest company in the shipping industry with similar revenue of Microsoft  Denmark’s largest company  Sales = 20% of Denmark’s GDP - Shipping companies not well known to public though; makes employees basically invisible o 1.2 million sea farers in shipping industry - Andrew Furuseth 1904 led illegal strike of sea farers o Threatened with imprisonment; replied “You can throw me in jail, but you can’t give me narrower quarters than, as seamen, I’ve always lived in, or a coarser food I’ve always eaten, or make me lonelier than I’ve always been.” o Job is like being in prison but with a salary; jail’s actually better - The sea is like no man’s land/the Wild West o Killings, beatings, rapes, etc. goes on o No internet or phone access; no police; no union representative o Only 12% of ship crews have freely available internet o 66% have no internet/phone access at all o Dec 2013, 544 sea men were held hostage off Somali coast o 2010, one ship had 24 men held hostage by Somali pirates for over 1000 days o Poor safety standards o Over 2000 deaths a year among sea farers; 1000s more seriously injured with no compensation o Global union (International Transport Workers Federation – ITF); collected 12.5 million dollars of unpaid wages o Sea farers left/abandoned; locked in ships at ports; - Why and how do these conditions exist?
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