Unions 1/25/2013 4:11:00 PM
Workers have been active in working with, and fighting against, employers
as they also attempt to shape the organization and experience of work.
BUT for them to be successful they have to operate collectively through
represent combinations of alliances of people pursuing mutual
interests and benefits.
formal organizations that aim to improve working conditions and
although they were first formed in the medieval era unions are
considered a modern phenomenon
CREATED in late 19 century in the rise of industrial capitalism.
With its larger firms and workplaces. However, not until mid 20 th
century until they became more common and socially accepted.
In the late 19 century unions were basically white male skilled
craft workers but now in modern times they involve workers in any
job of any race of any gender.
Eras in Canadian Labour History
In each of these periods there was an increase in unionization and
unionized activity. Usually followed by a decline and retrenchment.
These changes usually occur in eras when workers expectations
concerning conditions and remuneration rise but remain unmet.
However, in periods of poor economic activity where workers are
vulnerable and can be easily replaced they were not in a position to
bargain and demand for upgrades.
Jody Fudge and Eric Tucker divide the Canadian Labour Legislation
into three periods:
o LIBERAL VOLUNTARISM:
Employers held the upper hand in defining wages and
work conditions for employees. Prior to the 1880’s most union activity occurred within
specific trades and crafts, where workers in specific
occupations formed groups to fight for their own
Earliest union: KOL, Knights of Labour. Faught to gain
recognition and acceptance.
Then occurred wider union movement. Example: “Nine-
Hour Movement”; workers joined together and staged
some general strikes to reduce working from between
10-12 hours to just 9. Not successful but set a
precedent for attempts to unite workers more broadly.
Sir John A MacDonald: “Trade Unions Act of 1872” –
acknowledged unions’ right to exist by making them
exempt from conspiracy charges. But STILL unions were
limited by strong court challenges and powers by
o INDESTRIAL VOLUNTEERISM:
1900-1943, marked by “Industrial Disputes Act of
1907” – Unions now had the legal privilege to engage in
freedom of association, but this right was not enforced
by the Canadian Government.
Created compulsory conciliation and a cooling off period
before strikes could occur. Control still remained with
employers, who refused to be “cajoled by the
government”. Economic votality and corporate and
government opposition. This generally limited any union
activity during this era.
Between the two world wars there was an increase in
union resistance to the government and employers.
Largest and most dramatic labour event of this era was
the Winnipeg General Strike; turned into Bloody
After this occurred the unions did not find piece but
strikes and violence continued to occur. However, in late 1930’s workers began to win more
battles against employers who were somewhat
vulnerable to the tough economic times.
Ultimatly, this period was overshadowed by the
limitations of the ID Act of 1907, which distinguished
“responsible” unions that did not engage in wildcat
strikes and went along with the compulsory conciliation
from supposed irresponsible ones.
o INDUSTRIAL PLURALISM
Not only did the ww boost the economy but also the
labour movement in Canada by successes in the USA,
where government had shown greater tolerance for
unionization during the depression and union
membership became more widespread.
Union membership doubled in Canada over the course
of the war.
Canada demonstrated LESS support for union activity
than the USA but in 1944 it urged Canadian businesses
to negotiate with employee groups.
In 1944 Canada passed the “Privy Council Order 1003”
which supported Unions right to exist and therefore
created the right to collective bargaining.
Basically if worker groups could prove with substantial
evidence and had majority of people on their side the
employer had to legally sit down and consider their
bargain. If they both signed a contract they would have
to manage their disputes through a formal grievance
system. Not allowed to strike through agreeance of
RAND FORMULA: In 1945 Rand ruled that while
employees should not be required to join a union, they
should be required to pay dues. Because all workers
would benefit from collective bargaining and union
negotiated contract. Must take burden along with
benefit. This decision provided them with more security. (No employee may opt out of the union to not have to
pay dues. Must receive both burdens and benefits.)
After the war unions became much more acceptable
and their rights were fairly secure.
Recent Changes to Unions
Era of stability for union workers came to an end in the late 1960’s
o Rising inflation
o Changing attitudes
o Greater resistance to managerial authority by the young
o The entrance of new groups into the Canadian labour force;
including women and immigrants, whose interests and
concerns were not always addressed by the traditional union
activity and employer contracts.
Strike activity such as “wildcat strikes” – occurred during life of a
union-employer contract; became more common.
1960 - Unionized activity spread to new sectors of the economy and
therefore white collar and middle class employees became
frustrated by what they perceived to be deteriorating job conditions
and a declining standard of living.
“Made in Canada” – From KOL to early 20 century Canadian
unions were national units of larger international unions. Slowly
becoming more solely Canadian based
Currently, support for unions is strongest among those who have
direct experience with them or who learned them from friends and
family. Also, there is some evidence that young workers, women
and workers of colour show a higher than average level of support
What are Unions?
Role: to improve the economic interests of their workers, working
conditions, build workplace equity and democracy and ensuring fair
treatment of their members by employers.
Workers are drawn to them because they may be able to negotiate
an increase in wages and benefits. Collective Bargaining – method used to negotiate with management
for wages, benefits, pensions and other conditions of employment.
Compared to non-unionized employees, unionized workers receive
higher wages or “union wage premium”
Get benefits, more likely to be covered by certain insurances, etc.
In unionized workplaces “grievance procedures” are used when an
employer wants to discipline a worker. Workers who believe they
are being treated unfairly they can use these procedures to make
sure they are heard.
Social Unionism – encouraging activism of members, building
community-labour partnerships, and working with political parties
to push a broader agenda.
Tells us the absolute number of workers who are union members.
Stats show that they are increasing in size HOWEVER, they do not
show the amount of unionized workers to non-unionized workers.
Union Density – rate of unionization, the amount of unionized
workers in the populations of employed people. Calculated by
dividing number of members by the population.
Union density has declined over the last twenty years – larger
growth of non-unionized workers compared to unionized workers.
This concerns the strength of unions in the future. Points to trend
that non unionized jobs are easier to get than unionized ones.
Changes in Union Membership
The profile of a union member has changed dramatically over the
Gender: mix of men and women has increased.
Age: Growing gap between unionization rates between younger and
older workers is because of a greater “frustrated demand” on the
part of the youth. Lower rate of younger unionized members not
because they don’t support unions but because they have very little
job experiences that would give them reason to join a unionized job
or they could have less access to the unionized jobs. Race: Little research. Union Coverage – captures workers covered
by labour contracts negotiated by labour unions, both union and
non-union workers working under a collective agreement.
Unions largest in Ontario and smallest in the Atlantic. Does not
account for the strength of unions. Ontario has lowest density rate.
Canada is middle density.
Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, etc are high density.
Other than the high density countries all others experienced a
decrease in the union density over the past century.
Economic Globalization – helps explain the decline in union density
for most countries. Affects union density in two ways:
o Intensifies pressure on firms both domestic and multinational,
increasing inter-firm competition as nation markets become
integrated. As global competition “squeezes” profits firms are
forced to reduce costs, putting pressure on the wages.
o Increases opportunities for companies to outsource
production to countries where wages and other operating
costs are lower. Starts to erode union power by altering the
bargaining position of employers. When unions can no longer
guarantee these wages and securities, workers come to see
union membership as a waste of dues, at best, and a liability
Strikes usually only legal when the contract between the union and
the employer and collective bargaining has broken down after a
specific period of time.
Courts and gov’t can order workers to go back to work if the service
they provide could lead to larger problems or social unrest. Exp.
police officers, firefighters, nurses, etc. This means that their union
loses some of their bargaining power. This can lead to ILLEGAL
WILDCAT strikes… like the transit union in Toronto.
Recent Challenges Women, workers of colour, gays and lesbians.
o Women, much improvement however, in leadership roles they
are still lagging. Mostly male dominated, this is because
woman have less tolerance for the leadership role and the
time it endures.
o Race, improved.
o Gays and Lesbians, progressive. Demand for more social as
well as economical improvements to those who are “out”.
Full time work is standard.
The rise of nonstandard work (part time, etc.) represents two
o The existence of more part-time workers in the labour market
has led to calls to include contract and self employed workers
in those who can be organized by unions.
o Unions often overlook the fact that many part time workers,
especially women, choose part time work due to a desire to
balance work and family.
Unions today are benefiting immensely from the union doings of the past. Work-Family Conflict 1/25/2013 4:11:00 PM
Work Family Conflict?
Occurs when work responsibilities and obligations interfere with
family responsibilities and obligations and vise versa.
Often refers to two associated by distinct events:
o The first: “Time or Role Conflict” – when multiple roles require
us to be in two or more places at once.
o The second: “Stress and Anxiety” – when people are faced
with two sets of competing demands, they can experience
stress, which negatively affects physical and mental well-
being and potentially the ability to perform work and other
Face “Role Overload” – the total demands on time and energy
associated with the prescribed activities of multiple roles are too
great to perform the roles adequately or comfortably”
Sources of Work-Family Conflict
Paid work and unpaid domestic work were historically structured as separate
time consuming activities, to be done by someone specializing in one or the
With the rise of dual-earner families and single parent families and changing
ideas about men’s and women’s work and family roles, fewer people are
specializing this way.
Usually taking on multiple roles causing this work family conflict to occur.
Abstract worker – one with no family, children or outside
obligations, who exists only for work.
In earlier times men were often able to live up to this abstract
worker ideal. (Men for work, women for domestic labour)
Today this division of labour is very rare.
The typical worker, today, cannot be assumed to have no outside
obligations to interfere with work commitments.
Household Labour and Child Rearing Unpaid domestic labour in the late 19 thand early 20 thcenturies was
structured as a full time activity. Requiring extensive time and
Some 19 century women experimented with communal methods
of performing domestic labour – i.e. laundry trips, making dinner
for their families, etc.
OR relied heavily on their servents.
In the 20 century housework for most women was an activity they
performed by themselves for their families isolated in a home.
Raising children and maintaining a cared for home were very
Increased number of women in workforce as years went on. Many
families could not rely on JUST the wage of the male.
So.. women had to start working.
Work and family life were not structured around these expectations,
but around the ideal. This ideal though, is not “ideal” anymore.
Work family conflict is generally more extensive for women (and
especially single mothers) who still bear the main responsibility for
raising children and maintaining a home.
Although the 40 hour work week is still standard there is an
increase in the amount of people working substantially more or less
More or less could be bad because depending on the nature and
context of the people who work less hours:
Part time workers have more conflict sometimes because harder to
find help or child care, etc during the odd hours they are working.
The time couples spend working has increased immensely over the
years. Less time to spend with family.
Women are particularly vulnerable because more family
When faced with conflict more workers often sacrifice family time
for work time.
Impact of Work Family Often feel they are not fulfilling their obligations at home or at
High stress, high level of burnout, depression.
Emotional strain, physical fatigue.
Women report higher level of stress than men.
People in jobs that grant more autonomy and control (managers
and professionals) tend to report better health than those in low
Work family conflict = stress = poor well being and health, therapy,
Affect careers, fewer promotion and lower income, especially for
In male dominated professions a woman with a child is seen to be
not as “committed” to her career. Usually shows company that they
are not a good investment for company and will not get promoted.
For men, having children helps their career “tenure” especially if
have a women in the home.
Benefit of marriage for men in substantially reduced if their wives
work outside the home. If they don’t then the men have “additional
resources” that help them put more time into their jobs.
High levels of overload – miss days, less satisfied with their jobs.
Parents spend less time with their children. Some say children who
are in long hours of care will be harmed in some way. Little
evidence to confirm.
Some say that children in day care with high education is better
than being at home with mothers. Childcare centers are safer than
in home care. Working parents with daycare show less stress and
higher health than those who do not work. However, childcare
(good) is in limited supply and expensive therefore adds strain on
single mothers and low income families.
Factors Mediating and Mitigating Work-Family Conflict
The nature of ones work can affect how someone experiences WF
conflict. E.g work with flexible hours allows for people to deal with
situations as they arise/jobs that require long hours away from
home or irregular hours cause more. Family Demands
o Young children
o Children requiring more attention
o Elderly – with aging population more adults find themselves
with heavier eldercare responsibilities.
o Workers with high income can draw into it to reduce WFC by
o Workers who work far away from home can use money to
hire child care help.
o Working parents may rely on relatives or nearby family or
friends to help fulfill family obligations.
o Crucial for single parents in particular
Social Identity and Values
o A person more compelled to work for financial reasons but
would prefer to stay home and look after love ones may
agonize about missing time spent with family.
o Gender role orientation, women who are sensitive feel guiltier
than others about missing family.
Strategies for Reducing Work-Family Conflicts
Decreasing work needed to do in home. Less time cleaning, buy
more frozen meals, take advantage of services (day care, lawn, etc)
Reduce time spent at work, i.e. working mothers go for part time
Women more likely to cut back on their hours
Women and men in male dominated work tend to not cut back and
more likely to delay child bearing.
Policies Addressing Work Family Conflict.
Family friendly policies. o 1) Improve an organizations ability to recruit the best
workers, especially skilled women workers. Competitive
companies may use FF policies as an edge in recruitment.
o 2) Reduce worker absenteeism and increase worker
o 3) To keep and motivate workers. Many companies want
family like environment (caring about their workers)
Organizational Policies Affecting Work Family Conflict
Increasing presence of FF policies is positive.
Two types: Spend more time at work (child care help, after school
programs, etc.) vs. Spend more time at home (working flexible or
shorter days, etc.)
HOSCHILD - More chose more time at work. Looking to get ahead
in work, more important to them (little evidence) Idea that paid
work is less stressful than unpaid domestic work. Indication of
commitment. Risking job security and future promotions.
Policies more available to skilled workers. BUT their commitment to
their job and future career make them unable to take advantage of
it. Therefore policies have not solved problem.
Family Leave Policies:
o CLC revised to grant women right to maternity leave, just
when start to see a greater amount of women in the work
o 17 weeks maternity leave