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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

A Fine Balance: Canadian Unions Confront Globalization

Report by John Peters

In A Fine Balance: Canadian Unions Confront Globalization, John Peters argues Canadian unions must make significant strides towards renewal in order to counter the effects of globalization. For the first time since the 1960s, Peters writes, union density in Canada is below 30 percent. In addition, union membership has been in steady decline for the last few decades; he suggests some 50,000 to 80,000 new members are required each year for unions to maintain their current overall size and political power.

Peters argues globalization is to blame for these declining unionization levels. According to Peters, globalization has led to the imposition of neo-liberal economic policies that favour competition at the expense of labour. This means that employers have changed their relationship with workers for the worse. The result, Peters claims, is that workers are faced with declining employment conditions while, at the same time, losing the ability to protect their rights through union action.

To counter the effects of globalization Peters proposes that unions concentrate on organizing. He believes innovation in organizing – for example, recruiting previously non-unionized groups such as youth and immigrants – is key to overcoming Canada’s declining union rates. Peters also proposes the creation of a National Organizing Commission, an idea supported by the Canadian Labour Congress. He believes these recommendations would increase Canadian union membership and strength, while improving working conditions for all Canadians.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): John Peters;
Publisher: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2002; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / Globalization
Policy Articles / Labour & Markets / Unions
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance
Policy Articles / Labour & Markets
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / Globalization / 2002
Policy Articles / Labour & Markets / Unions / 2002


Keywords / Tags:

labour; globalization; unionization; neoliberalism; organizing; membership; Canadian Labour Congress;