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Social Science
SOSC 1510
David Langille

1. Evaluate the condition of Canada’s labour movement, and explain why unions continue to be popular with many Canadians. - Canadian unions have continued to grow – over 4.4 million workers belong to a union - Union density: union membership as a proportion of the entire Canadian labour force o Used to determine size and strength of the labour movement across workforce o Higher union density allows unions to establish and protect better compensation and working standards by moderating the extent to which any particular unionized employer can be undercut by non-unionized competition - Trends toward deregulation and privatization have increased intensity of domestic competition, lowering union success o Rise of aggressive, business-friendly political and economic agenda hinders unions’ ability to organize new members o Employers can threaten to relocate work and migrate in search of lower labour costs o Resulted in reduction in union density levels over last three decades - Participation of women in organized labour is at a higher rate than for men o Due to stable rate of unionization in female-dominated occupations in public sector (e.g. health care, education) - Decline in overall union density in canada is due to two distinct trends: o 1) decline in union density in private sector o 2) downsizing of public sector employment - By weakening labour standards and producing more competitive economic environments globalization hindered uninonization and depressed wages and workplace standards - Industry of employment is an important factor in explaining membership trends o Three most highly unionized industries are in public sector or public utilities - Membership grew in service sector  CUPE (largest union since 1980) o Key to success: membership diversification  universities, airlines, nursing homes - Women are often more pro-union because of their inferior positions in workplaces o Gender segregation is the key factor in unionization - Two Models of Unions: o Business Unionism: focus on workplace issues (e.g. wages and benefits) o Social Unionism: focus on wider political struggles for human rights, social justice and democracy (e.g. health care) - Unions continue to be popular with many Canadians because: o Defines, promotes, fights for collective interests o Major force for improving quality of jobs, raising wages, promoting equality between men and women, younger and older workers, and in between minorities o Give political voice to many not otherwise heard o Allows for collective bargaining (process whereby worker’s representatives negotiate the terms and conditions of the employment relationship on behalf of most or all of the workers in a particular workplace, company or industry)  Gives workers change to regulate conditions of employment and seek protection from market pressures o Reduce income inequality o Advance workers’ economic and political rights and freedoms - For unions to meet the economic, political, and social challenges brought by changing economic and political landscape, they must be willing and able to: o Re-evaluate the way they connect with working people, how they mobilize their members, how they communicate with broader public 2. What can we learn from organizational and management theories about how to be a better manager? Discuss how Weber’s and Taylor’s ideas work better in some workplaces than others. - Max Weber o Bureaucracy: organizational form best able to efficiently coordinate and integrate multitude of specialized tasks conducted in a big factory or office o Model for a highly mechanistic type of organization o Bureaucratic organizations are those that emphasize precision, speed, clarity, reliability, and efficiency through creation of a fixed division of tasks, hierarchical supervision, and detailed rules and regulations o Advantage of hierarchy with division of labour was that employers could gain employee commitment by offering prospect of career advancement o Flaws   Often overly complex, so difficult to manage, resistant to change, and unable to cope with uncertainties  Rules undermine efficiency of bureaucracy  rules become ends, rather than means of achieving organizational goals  bureaucratic personality: following procedural manuals to last detail  organizational life cannot be made fully predictable (e.g. promotions, layoffs, dismissals)  bureaucratic efficiency rests on assumption that employees will submit to managerial authority (accept legitimacy of existing authority structure, abide by rules, obey bosses because this authority is impartial and fair)  rational-legal value system -- assumption that general acceptance of goals is contradicted by realities of employee-employer relations  what is rational for management is not necessarily rational for workers, which leads to conflicts over distribution and use of decision-making power o bureaucracy and tight management controls are more appropriate in industries with mass- production technology  direct relationship between production technology, on the one hand, and structural forms and management styles on the other - Frederick Taylor o Scientific Management: an approach to organizational theory in which the role of management is to reduce work to clearly defined, objective practices and methods that can be constantly made more economical, efficient, and effective o Advocated workplace reorganization, job redesign, tighter administrative and employee controls  PROFITS + EFFICIENCY o Shift decision making responsibility for doing a job from workers to management o Use scientific methods to determine most efficient way of executing a job o Provide detailed descriptions of how to perform each step in a job o Select best worker to perform the job and closely monitor their performance o Flaws   Degraded labour, minutely fragmenting tasks, reducing skill requirements, eliminating workers’ input about how job should be done  Founded on assumption that workers motivated only by economic gain  Ideal worker is more like a machine than a human being o Believed unknown speed of a job restricted production  time and motion studies  Rate of pay tied to production quota o In service sector, places like fast food restaurants focus on speed of service, having time and motion studies that dictate how long it takes to prepare each meal o Also used in manufacturing – e.g. appliance factories o Scientific management is useful for organizing production when robots are main productive force 3. How could employers improve the quality of working life? Explain why so many employees are seeing their quality of working life deteriorate. - How to improve quality of working life  o Quality of Working Life (QWL): covers many different strategies for humanizing work, improving employee-employer cooperation, redesigning jobs, giving employers greater participation in management  Underlying goal is to improve employee satisfaction, motivation, and commitment  Results in higher productivity, better quality products, bigger profits  Job enlargement: expand a job horizontally, adding related tasks to put more variety into the work done  Job enrichment: combining operations before and after a task to create a more complex and unified job  Job rotation: workers moving through a series of work stations (at levels of skill and responsibility similar to original task)  Autonomous work team: have workers discipline themselves and make their own decisions  Quality circles: teams responsible for defects - Why employees are seeing their quality of working life deteriorate o Firms are facing global competition so they go offshore or outsource to lower cost suppliers o Employers either embrace their employees, where they become a key factor in improved organizational performance, or they squeeze their employees by downsizing the workforce, reducing wages and benefits, and calling on remaining workers to be more flexible and make more sacrifices 4. Compare and contrast industrial democracy and economic democracy. - Industrial Democracy o Attempts to involve workers in a much wider range of decisions within the organization o Advocates point out that industrial democracy increases productivity and service delivery from a more , engaged and happier workforce  Less industrial dispute resulting from better communication in the workplace, improved and inclusive decision making processes resulting in better workplace decisions, decreased stress, increase in job satisfaction, reduction in absenteeism, and an improved sense of fulfillment o Flaws   Does not guarantee less bureaucracy, reduced income inequality, skill upgrading, or more task-related autonomy for workers  Works councils were seen as a way to deter workers from unions o Representative Democracy: Workers have a voce at the work-group level, as well as through elected representatives on corporate boards and other policy-making bodies o Creation of works councils in an attempt to reduce industrial conflict and create social harmony o Codetermination: German model that initially entailed to give works councils right to advise management on workplace regulations  Elected representatives of workforce share decision making with management representatives
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