Industrial Relations

  • The White-Collar Pickle

    The switch of highly educated professionals to making a risky living selling small batches of craft products has its roots in work that is its own reward, writes Brian Dijkema, a Hamilton-based beekeeper who is also Cardus Program Director for Work and Economics.

    There is a little bit in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations where he gives five circumstances that help explain wage inequality. As someone who has long made the case for the ...

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  • No Shame in Dirty Hands

    There was a certain look students had when they would come to my office a few days into a new semester to confess that they were "dropping down" from University Prep English. Rather than soaring on to academia after their senior year, they were now trundlin...

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  • Hammering at the Big Questions

    And we hear lots of thoughts too on social architecture; it's what Cardus does. Thinking and building go together.

    We often hear big questions asked about architecture. What worldview shaped that art museum, or this cathedral? Why are those ...

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  • Trading Up: Women and the New Industrial Revolution

    Yeah, we can do anything. We know. Our second-wave feminist mothers showed us that. But somehow, the third wave hasn't washed over society powerfully enough to supplement the current female role models, which remain—perhaps more than ever—overwhelmingly pretty, pink, perky homemakers. And the trends begin in childhood.

    Let me humbly attempt to say something on behalf of women.

    Yeah, we can do anything. We know. Our second-wave feminist mothers showed us that. But somehow, the third wave hasn't washed over society powerfully enough to supplement the current female r...

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  • Dignity of Work

    My father was a construction labourer during my early youth, and I remember taking the scenic routes to a destination so that we could observe the progress being made on a construction project that he had contributed to. I remember welling with pride—my dad helped build that!—and though my father wasn't the talkative sort, I know he also felt a particular sense of accomplishment that wasn't measured by the hours of labour or the paycheque received.

    Every job has its unique satisfactions, but I suppose the job of a construction worker is a good one to illustrate the importance of work and vocation to our wellbeing.

    My father was a construction labourer during my early youth, and I remember takin...

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  • The Cardus Travelling Circus

    Sure, sure. Cardus believes cities can be much better than they are now. We believe a more cooperative labour environment would seriously raise the dignity and fairness of our workplaces. We think private education is good for everyone. Ideas matter when they get legs.

    "How and where ideas have consequence is as much a matter of who uses them, as what they say." —Michael Van Pelt and Robert Joustra, in Comment (2008)...

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  • My 2013 Top Ten

    And I'm very pleased to offer my own highlights of Cardus's year, as the grateful president of this enthusiastic young outfit. I won't try to be comprehensive—that's what our yearbook is for. Rather, let me share a few of the items that I'm most excited about.

    If you haven't been paying attention, I understand. Everybody wants your attention nowadays, and all of us face a thousand experts shouting a thousand opinions. So I'm grateful you're here, following Cardus.

    And I'm very pleased to offer my own highl...

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  • Honking for Hats

    Even as enormous political thought, energy, and activity were being put into overseeing the kind of hats Quebecers are allowed to wear in various circumstances, I could see nothing but the sea of bumpers of the cars of my fellow citizens: none of us able to move more than an inch or two per hour. In this case, time was the rub. I had just returned to Montreal from Ottawa, a 200 km trip that took me approximately 90 minutes (note to Highway 417 traffic cops: please temporarily forget how to do arithmetic.) Once in Montreal, it took me more than 60 minutes to travel from Cavendish Boulevard to the Decarie service road, a distance of barely two kilometres.

    Being stuck in traffic pinpointed for me what is wrong with Quebec's attempt to legislate a so-called Charter of Values.

    Even as enormous political thought, energy, and activity were being put into overseeing the kind of hats Quebecers are allowed t...

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  • Sacrifice Binds Us

    The purpose of his article, which I heartily recommend and endorse, is to leave behind the placards and plumb the depths of the word and its public implications for North America.

    Rusty Reno notes in his opening essay of First Things' June/July issue that "solidarity" is a word that, "for a long time, has been a word of the left: class solidarity, workers' solidarity, solidarity strikes and so forth."

    The purpose of ...

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  • What's Being Demolished?

    "Given the state of Quebec's bridges, roads and other infrastructure, I was under the impression construction workers have been on strike for the past 40 years," the comment writer wrote under a news story when the strike began June 17. No wonder the government-mandated construction holiday each July is a two-week source of jubilation for Quebecers who can finally move around their communities without being waylaid by traffic snarl-ups or getting clonked on the head as they pick their way through the war zones at the perimeters of building sites.

    A clever web commenter put Quebec's current construction strike in perfect perspective.

    "Given the state of Quebec's bridges, roads and other infrastructure, I was under the impression construction workers have been on strike for the past 40 years," ...

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  • Bad Medicine For Trade Unions

    We expect this type of response from those on the farthest and most loony left—think Sid Ryan, head of the morally and financially bankrupt Ontario Federation of Labour—but I'm always puzzled when those who traditionally look more skeptically on the state's use of coercive power take up the same tune.

    There is nothing like the topic of unions to bring out people's unquestioning love of the state. Whether you're on the right or the left, the problem of unions—whether we want more or less of them, or whether they should have more or less influence—is almos...

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  • Standing Horn to Horn

    The premise behind this is that individual employees, left on their own, resemble nothing so much as this.

    One of the points of collective bargaining—indeed the key point of collective bargaining—is that it is intended to replace the patchwork of individual employment contracts in a workplace with one contract, negotiated by the union, on behal...

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  • When Yoga Chases out the Blue Collars

    Almost everything he says, of course, turns out to have the predictable burble and sulphur of the primeval class-warrior. You can tell and smell it from three blocks away. There's no normal need to move in for exact identification. "The (condo) boom is gobbling up land almost as fast as it sucks up mortgage debt.

    Jim Stanford sports an economist's badge on his white-collar shirt front, yet works for the Canadian Auto Workers. This combination gets him punditry gigs on CBC and in the Globe and Mail.

    Almos...

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  • Quinoa Strikes Help No One

    The newest food for fret is quinoa. The Guardian warns, "There is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder." The article continues, "The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it."

    Fretting is the hot new side dish, but it's not healthy. I'm sure there are many in wealthy North America who eat their oatmeal every morning blissfully unaware of the controversies around whether their porridge is fair-trade, organic, local, steel cut or m...

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  • An Engagement with Acton on Right to Work

    The legislation gives workers covered by a collective agreement in their workplace the option of membership (and subsequent dues payments) in the union responsible for negotiating that agreement. Needless to say, the debate around this law has been heated; so heated that multiple rules of engagement were broken in the span of minutes.

    Michigan is now a right to work state. Let the market rejoice, and let unions weep and gnash their teeth. Let prognosticators wait a few minutes before prophesying.

    The legislation gives workers covered by a collective agreement in their workplace th...

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  • In the place where the NHL's heart should be

    Every morning when I read the sports pages, and during the day as I browse the web for news updates, I feel enormous relief—nay, deep satisfaction—that the NHL lockout continues.

    I have a confession that may lead to me following the lead of Conrad Black and abandoning my Canadian passport. Nothing criminal, I must hastily stress. But definitely something that would currently qualify as un-Canadian.

    Every morning when I read t...

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  • A Bit of Perspective

    But they need to be understood for what they are: a tool to help us understand the mess of life. As with most of life, the events of labour relations are as likely to slop all over the sides of buckets and make a big mess on the floor as they are to stay in the bucket. How messy can it get? Well, recent labour strife in the Lonmin platinum mines in South Africa give us some indication .

    A couple weeks back I set out some criteria to help discern whether a strike is justified or not. These lists provide helpful buckets into which we can place events before evaluating them.

    ...

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  • When Teachers are Less than Exemplary

    This lack of funding is clearly displayed within our public service sector. Over the past five decades the public service sector has, with the complicity of government and powerful unions, increased the value of their benefits (pensions and health care) to levels that are totally unsustainable. . .

    The Baby Boomers are retiring. This aging tidal wave sweeping over Canada, along with the whole developed world, is placing massive stress on the financial solvency of governments. As Boomers retire they believe they are in line to receive an unprecedented ...

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  • Plus ca change

    Citing former Laval University professor and labour relations specialist Rejean Breton, Martineau renders Quebecers as infantile, self-obsessed fantasists suckling upon the Nanny State. Martineau himself uses equally harsh vocabulary. He notes students will be massing to again disrupt Montreal's city centre this afternoon just as the Charbonneau commission begins hearings on construction industry corruption.

    On today's 100th day of protests by Quebec students, Journal de Montreal columnist Richard Martineau offers a scabrous depiction of his province.

    Citing for...

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  • Condemnations, contradictions, and rich ironies

    Some see the plant's closure as just another example of blood-sucking foreign companies who come into Canada, ignore our unions, buy our plants, and leave the workers, the provinces, and the country to clean up the mess. Ken Lewenza, the head of the union representing the workers at the EMD plant, suggests that the closure "open[s] a door for multinational corporations to feel confident they can do whatever they want, to destroy communities and the lives of people and get away with it." A commodities boom has driven the Canadian dollar from a 62¢ U.S.

    The talk about last month's move of the Electro-Motive Diesel plant from London (Ontario) to the United States reveals much about the way we treat economics in Ontario and in Canada.

    Some see the plant's closure as just another example of blood-sucki...

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  • Ignoring a Key Reason for the Decline of Unions

    A discussion paper released by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications Energy and Paper Workers (CEP) suggests that unions are "fac[ing] an enormous and historic moment of truth." While Canadian unions are known for their overuse of hyperbole, the list of problems they themselves provide suggests the problem is genuine.

    Canada's unions are in trouble, but what is to be done?

    A discussion paper released by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications Energy and Paper Worke...

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  • The point of public research

    It's a valid question, and it comes specifically to my mind after a phone call I received last week. We recently released a paper on the College of Trades, a new institution created by the Ontario government to modernize the trades. The paper reviewed the literature, compared the College to other similar institutions, examined the legislation behind the College and ultimately concluded, based on the evidence, that the College lacks evidence to back up its claims, and that it is not likely to achieve its goals in a cost-efficient way. We sent the study all over the province, to government, to those in the College, to those in industry, to all major newspapers.

    Cardus does research on all kinds of things: the contribution of churches to the vitality of cities, the importance of charitable giving for society, outcomes of education, as well as work and economics. What's the point of all this research? Why do we do i...

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  • Politics with a Long-Term View

    However, as I was listening live to Mr. Day last Thursday, I began wondering about what really constitutes the long run in politics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    John Maynard Keynes famously defended government intervention in the economy, preferring the short-term advantage over the long-term cost. He rationalized that "in the long run, we are all dead." In his keynote to last week's Conservative Policy Convention ...

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  • Intern Nation

    It's the season of interns, and with it the debasing hazing rituals (Cardus' is doing the President's expense reports). Those undergrads who haven't retreated to dignified manual labour to pay tuition bills for the summer, are working to pad their résumé and bolster their experience with now-legion internship opportunities.

     

    It's the seas...

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