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Community Unionism in Canada and Labor's (Re)Organization of Space

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Abstract:

The extensive restructuring of industrialized economies continues to challenge workers and their unions in the 1990s. Labor unions are trying to remain viable institutions in the face of globalization of economic production, deindustrialization, and technological change. These processes have increasingly challenged workers in traditionally highly unionized sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and resource extraction industries. At the same time, unions have failed to organize large numbers of workers, often young and female, in geographically fragmented workplaces in expanding sectors of the economy such as consumer services and subcontracted goods production. There has been a call for new “spatialized strategies” allowing unions to access these new sectors and spaces and to produce scales of organization compatible with post-industrial capital. One strategy being adopted by the labor movement is coalition building with non-labor community interest groups with common goals in order to shape geographies of production. The experience of two Canadian unions with “community unionism” is discussed as an example of a spatialized strategy still in early development.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8330.00076

Affiliations: McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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