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SOSC 1510 (43)
Chapter

WALMART & UNION/UNIONIZATION NOTES - Future of Work

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Department
Social Science
Course
SOSC 1510
Professor
David Langille
Semester
Fall

Description
Pages 343-360 INTRODUCTION 1. Wal-Mart • Wal-Mart is the world’s largest corporation • Its approach to employee relations is strictly nonunion • Certification of a union at a Wal-Mart in Windsor in 1997 was a first • Wal-Mart closed a store in Québec just months after workers voted to unionize • Within weeks of the Quebec closing, employees at Wal-Mart in Quebec voted against joining United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) • The union accused the company of intimidation, the company accuse the union of forcing employees into signing union cards and using pressure tactics • The UFCW fought the Québec store closing all the way to the supreme court of Canada • It lost the case on a legal technicality 2. National Hockey League Players’Association • In July 2005, the longest labour dispute in the history of professional sports ended when the National hockey league players association reaches a new collective agreement with the team owners • Powerful players unions are part of professional team sports • It was the team owners who :locked out” the players by cancelling he NHL season • The union wanted to preserve a free market for salaries • In other industries, it would be management accusing the union of putting artificial constraints on the labour market 3. Toronto Municipal Strike • Six week strike was the longest in history • Striking workers had little public support • Garbage piled up • Bankable sick days were initially intended to reduce employee absenteeism • The city claimed that banked sick days became an expensive entitlement that most other municipalities had eliminated THEORITICAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE LABOUR MOVEMENT • No single issue stands out as the driving force of unionization • Workers historically rallied collectively to opposed the imposition of arbitrary management power, to protect their jobs, to retain some semblance of control over the labour process, and to obtain improvements in rights, wages, and working conditions WHY DO WORKERS UNIONIZE? • Workers pursuit of higher wages express a more basic desire to reduce employment domination • Collective action could improve working conditions and reduce the competition for jobs that drives wages down • Workers develop an awareness that jobs are scarce and must be protected through unionization • Unions can be looked at in 5 different ways • As moral institutions fighting against the injustices of capitalist industrializations revolutionary organizations intent on overthrowing capitalism • As psychological or defensive reactions against the treat early capitalism posed to workers jobs • As responses to economic realities aimed at achieving better wages and working conditions • As political organizations extending workers’ rights further into the industrial arena th • The harsh working conditions endured by industrial workers in the late 19 century sparked the first major surge of unionization • Workers are motivated to unionize by the desire to gain greater control over their jobs as well as fair treatment • Tilting the balance of power slightly away from management and toward workers • Work is a power relationship in which conflict is always a possibility • Industrial relations is defined as the power of control over work relations- a process that especially involves unions CONFLICT AND COOPERATION IN UNION-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS • Collective bargaining is the process by which a union on behalf of its members and an employer reached a negotiated agreement (called a collective agreement or contract) that defines for a specific time period wages, hours, benefits, and other working conditions • They are negotiated and administered under provincial and federal labour laws and are designed to reduce conflict • Collective bargaining is designed to resolve conflict through conflict • Workers aim for higher wages, better working conditions • Employers pursue higher profits, lower costs, and increased productivity • Some issues such as improved health and safety can produce a win-win situation in which both workers and management benefit • This approach to negotiations is called mutual gains bargaining UNIONS AS “MANAGERS OF DISCONTENT” • In some respects, unions function as managers of discontent • Unions in Canada and other capitalist societies channel the complaints of workers into a carefully regulated dispute-resolution system • Unions operate in always that contribute to the maintenance of capitalism • In order to channel the discontent of their members, unions must represent the views of the majority of members • This raises the issue of internal union democracy • Union are democratic organizations whose constitution allow members to elect leaders regularly • Leaders develop expert knowledge which gives them power • Once in office they can control the organization to maintain their power • The masses tend to identify with leaders and expect them to exercise power on their behalf WHAT DO UNIONS DO? • Their goals consist of control over the labor process and over the rewards of work • Employers sometimes rather give up some of their profits than to get up some of their decision making authority • Business unionism: the emphasis by unions on material gain rather than of control PUBLIC OPINIONS ABOUT UNIONS • People have been less favorable toward the role of unions • People believe they have been too involved in politics and they disapprove of strikes • Slight majority believes that they hurt the economy • Many believe it contributes to inflation • Two different sides to this • A big labour image sees unions as too powerful and they believe that they harm society and that they require greater regulation • A business unionism imagine focuses on the positive gains in wages and working conditions unions have been through collective bargaining • Both images are reinforced by the media • Younger workers and members of visible minorities are interested in joining unions • Not having a healthy and supportive work environment are also factors that contributed with wanting to join a union THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF UNIONS • Unionized workers earn about 10 percent more than nonunion workers do • Impact being greater for women • More likely to have pension plans provided by employer • More paid vacations and holidays as well as dental and medical plans • They also help reduce overall wage inequality • Without unions, the income inequality in Canada would most likely rise • Unionization is higher in large workplaces • The monopoly face represents unions’ power to raise members’ wages at the expense of employers and other workers • The collective voice face shifts attention to how unions democratize workplaces, giving workers a collective voice in dealing with management • Unions boost productivity with better management performance, reduced hiring and training costs • But because of higher wages, productivity gains do not necessarily make unionized firms more profitable THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CANADIAN LABOUR MOVEMENT • Its history is tied to the development of capitalism • Groups of workers often struggled against strong-willed employers and a reluctant stat to gain higher wages, better working conditions, and control of their working lives CRAFT UNIONISM • Skilled craft workers were the first to unionize • Earliest union was organized by printers in Toronto, carpenters, bricklayers, etc. • Fought for shorter working hours • Printers reinforced their status by referring to their work as a profession • They also protected their members position in the labour market by regulating access to the craft, thus monopolizing its unique skills • This would be referred to as a labour market shelter • As small local enterprises of the 19 century gave way to the factories and large corporations of th the 20 , unions provided craftsmen with a defense against the erosion of their way of life • Craft unions dominated the young Canadian labour movement well into the 20 century th • The international unions were American=based and affiliated with the con
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