An Introduction to the Labour Movement in Canada, 3rd Edition
“Since it was first published, Building a Better World has been the best available book to introduce readers to unions in Canada. … With workers and unions facing increasingly severe attacks from employers and governments, this new version is most welcome.” — David Camfield, University of Manitoba, author of Canadian Labour in Crisis
For decades, public sector unions in Canada have been plagued by austerity, privatization, taxpayer backlash and restrictions on union rights. In recent years, the intensity of state-led attacks against public sector workers has reached a fevered pitch, raising the question of the role of public sector unions in protecting their members and the broader public interest.
Public Sector Unions in the Age of Austerity examines the unique characteristics of public sector unionism in a Canadian context. Contributors to this multi-disciplinary collection explore both the strategic possibilities and challenges facing public sector unions that are intent on resisting austerity, enhancing their power and connecting their interests as workers with those of citizens who desire a more just and equitable public sphere.
Though the Canadian labour movement’s postwar political, economic and social achievements may have seemed like irrevocable contributions to human progress, they have proven to be anything but. Since the mid-1970s, labour’s political influence and capacity to defend, let alone extend, these gains has been seriously undermined by the strategies of both capitalist interests and the neoliberal state. Electoral de-alignment and the decline of class-based voting, bursts of unsustained extra-parliamentary militancy and a general lack of influence on state ac- tors and policy outcomes all signal that the labour movement is in crisis. Despite much experimentation in an attempt to regain political clout, labour continues to experience deep frustration and stagnation. As such, the labour movement’s future political capacities are in question, and the need for critical appraisal is urgent. Understanding how and why workers were able to exert collective power in the postwar era, how they lost it and how they might re-establish it is the central concern of Rethinking the Politics of Labour in Canada.