Public Sector Unions in the Age of Austerity

Edited by Stephanie Ross and Larry Savage  

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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.

  • Labour & Unions
  • ISBN: 9781552665848
  • August 2013
  • 160 Pages
  • $30.00
  • For sale worldwide

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  • Public Sector Unions in the Age of Austerity is one of the most significant contributions to debates about union renewal in quite some time. The editors and authors have produced a very valuable collection that will likely be discussed widely in classrooms and union meetings, and by researchers, students, and laypersons alike.

    — Carlo Fanelli (full review)

  • “…a broad historical perspective within which to assess the age of austerity, while critically reflecting on more than three decades of public sector unions’ resistance and struggles for a just, equitable and progressive public sphere.”

    — Sébastien Rioux, University of British Columbia for Work, Employment and Society 29(1) Feb 2015 (full review)

  • “This book would be a valuable read for anyone interested in the issue of how public-sector unions should respond to the challenges of neoliberalism, regardless of where you live.”

    — Matthew Glasson, University of Iowa (full review)


  • An Introduction (Stephanie Ross & Larry Savage)
  • Part I: Contextualizing Public Sector Unions
  • When Your Boss Is the State (Bryan Evans)
  • The Continuing Assault on Public Sector Unions (Leo Panitch & Donald Swartz)
  • Part II: Public Sector Unions and Political Power
  • Public Sector Unions and Electoral Politics in Canada (Larry Savage & Charles W. Smith)
  • Social Unionism and Union Power in Public Sector Unions (Stephanie Ross)
  • Renewing Public Sector Unions (David Camfield)
  • Part III: Sectoral Perspectives on Public Sector Unions
  • Unions in the Nonprofit Social Services Sector (Donna Baines)
  • In the Public Interest: Nurses on Strike (Linda Briskin)
  • Teachers’ Unions, Collective Bargaining and Neoliberal Education Reform (Andy Hanson)
  • Unions of Professionals in the Public Sector (Larry Savage & Michelle Webber)
  • Federal Public Sector Unions in Times of Austerity: Rosemary Warskett)
  • Bibliography


  • Stephanie Ross

    McMaster University

    Stephanie Ross is the Director of the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University.

  • Larry Savage

    Brock University

    Larry Savage is Chair of the Department of Labour Studies at Brock University.

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