Canadian Labour in Crisis

Reinventing the Workers’ Movement

By David Camfield  

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Does Canada have a working-class movement? Though many of us think of ourselves as middle class, most of us are, in fact, working class: we work for a wage. And though many of us are members of unions – the most significant organizations of the working-class movement in Canada – most people do not understand themselves to be part of this movement. Canadian Labour in Crisis asks why this is so. Through an analysis of the contemporary Canadian working-class movement and its historical development, David Camfield offers an explanation for its current state and argues that reform within the movement is not enough. From the structure of organizations to their activities and even the guiding ideology, Camfield contends that the movement needs a radical reinvention – and offers us a new way forward in reaching this goal.

“…a rich and compelling account of what is happening within unions in Canada and Quebec, and a detailed agenda for a new kind of working class movement. This should be read by anyone concerned with the future of unions in Canada and Quebec and would be a useful text in a union course or an introductory university course on unions.”

— Wayne Lewchuk, McMaster University for Labour/LeTravail 69, Spring 2012

  • Labour & Unions
  • ISBN: 9781552664162
  • March 2011
  • 168 Pages
  • $21.95
  • For sale worldwide

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  • Introduction
  • Part One: The Working-Class Movement Today
  • Unions and the Workplace
  • Union Activity Beyond the Contract
  • Inside the Unions: Organizational Life
  • Other Working-Class Movement Organizations
  • Assessing the Contemporary Working-Class Movement
  • The Roots of Today’s Problems
  • Part Two: Looking Forward
  • Why Reinvent the Movement?
  • How to Reinvent the Movement?
  • Readings and Resources
  • Concepts
  • References
  • Index


  • David Camfield

    Associate Professor, University of Manitoba

    David Camfield teaches labour studies and sociology at the University of Manitoba and has been involved in social justice efforts since high school. He is the author of We Can Do Better: Ideas for Changing Society and Canadian Labour in Crisis: Reinventing the Workers’ Movement.

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