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SIQ Readings Work and the Economy.docx

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Sandra Colavecchia

SIQ Readings – Sociology 1A06 Colavecchia McMaster University 2012-2013 Work & the Economy: Chapter 21: “Affluence, Unemployment, and Strikes in Canada. 1973-2005”  Affluence(Wealth) breeds contentment  An association exists between measures of strike activity and measures of economic well-being  GDP is measured in constant dollars to eliminate the influence of inflation  # of strikes that took place in Canada each year divided by the # of agricultural workers in the country=slopes downward on graph which suggests that when well-being is low, striking is high and vice versa  GDPpc hides that fact that most people are worse off because there is only a rise in purchasing power of high-income earners (minority of population) compared to middle and low-class earners (majority of population)  During the first half of the 1973-2000 period, workers who were economically deprived and were least inclined to strike, and when they were secure in their jobs, they were most inclined to strike. The second half, after 1986, the relationship between unemployment rate and weighted stroke frequency virtually disappeared  Capitalist economies undergo recurrent boom and bust cycles: during bad times, unemployment is high and business profitably low and vice versa=association between business cycle and strike frequency. As unemployment falls, strikes increase=this is because workers are in a better bargaining position during good times. At the peaks of their job, workers enjoy higher savings and alternative job opportunities  Strikes are low risk because businesses want to settle them quickly  Workers avoid strikes during troughs in the business cycle since they are riskier than in good times  It is about how powerful workers are, not states of mind as what causes strikes  Association between strikes and business cycle was a feature of most advanced capitalist countries in the 20 century, with 3 important qualifications: First, before World War 2, the North American system of collective bargaining between workers and employers was not well institutionalized. As a result, Canada and the US, the effect of the business cycle on strikes is stronger for the post-world war 2 period than for the pre- world war 2 period. Second, in much of Western Europe, the institutional environment lessens the effect of economic conditions on strike frequency. Measures of strike frequency are affected not just by the phase of the business cycle, but also by the periodicity of contrast renewal schedules. In contrast, Canada and US makes strike frequency more sensitive to the business cycle in North America. Union density=proportion of the non-agricultural labour force that is unionized influences strike activity. Unions educate workers and enable them to speak with one voice allowing mobilization of workers, which influences strike action. Third, left-wing social democratic parties in many Western European countries negotiate the division of rewards in society from the labor market, where strikes are important bargaining tools to the political sphere. Limiting strikes has been used as a bargaining chip in exchange for income redistribution and welfare concessions in Sweden, Germany and other Western European countries (for example, in Sweden, strikes were insensitive to the business cycle - 1970-1980).  The association between the business cycle and strike frequency shows that it w
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