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The Logic of Labor Quiescence Yonatan Reshef Strategic Management and Organization University of Alberta October 16, 2001.

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Presentation on theme: "The Logic of Labor Quiescence Yonatan Reshef Strategic Management and Organization University of Alberta October 16, 2001."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Logic of Labor Quiescence Yonatan Reshef Strategic Management and Organization University of Alberta October 16, 2001

2 What is Collective Action Collective actions are a political expression. They are organized by unions outside the boundaries of a particular workplace or bargaining unit, enabling participants to challenge the government definition of what the public interest is. Thus, collective actions are battles of ideas and alternative political directions. They are not viewed “so much as real tests of economic strength as symbolic displays of political energy and resoluteness. And the people whom these displays are intended to impress are … the political authorities of the land …” (Shorter and Tilly, 1974, p. 343).

3 Conceptual Model Actors – Union members – Union leaders Internal Environment – Union Paradigm – Experience – Politics (within and between unions) – Structures (within and between unions) External Environment – Government – nature; tenure – Public – Law – Labor market conditions – tight/loose – Employment patterns – service/manufacturing Intangibles Tangibles

4 UNION ENVIRONMENTS EXTERNAL FACTORS – IR IN A CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENT LEGAL – CIVIL SERVANTS, HEALTH CARE EMPLOYEES, FF, POLICEMEN, AND POST-SECONDARY TEACHERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STRIKE LOW SUPPORT FOR UNIONS (21.2%) ECONOMIC – RESOURCE INDUSTRY, LITTLE MANUFACTURING BASE POLITICAL – PC IN OFFICE SINCE 1971

5 A Tale of Three Elections PCLIBNDPCLIBNDPCLIBND SEATS POPU. VOTE

6 UNION ENVIRONMENTS (II) INTERNAL ENVIRONMENT PHILOSOPHY – BUSINESS UNIONISM; EMPHASIS ON COLLECTIVE BARGAININGBUSINESS UNIONISM LACK OF COLLECTIVE ACTION EXPERIENCE STRUCTURE – MULTIPLE UNIONS; ATA UNION RIVALRIES

7 The Klein Revolution BUDGET CUTS OVER FOUR YEARS BASIC EDUCATION - 5.6% HIGHER EDUCATION % HEALTH CARE % GENERAL WELFARE % OTHER DEPARTMENTS – AVERAGE BUDGET CUTS OF 20.0% IN 1995, THESE REDUCTIONS AMOUNTED TO A DROP OF 27.4% IN REAL PER CAPITA EXPENDITURES IN GOVERNMENT SERVICES. A YEAR LATER THE BUDGET WAS BALANCED.

8 The Klein Revolution (II) WORKFORCE REDUCTIONS CIVIL SERVICE – 23.5% (6,512) HEALTH CARE – 21.2% (13,873) TEACHERS – 5.0% (1,500)

9 Union Membership, UnionsUnion MembershipMembership Change (%) AUPE48,24636, UNA14,00012, ATA30,85829, CUPE27,88126, AUPE – Alberta Union of Provincial Employees UNA – United Nurses of Alberta ATA – Alberta Teachers’ Association CUPE – Canadian Union of Public Employees

10 The Klein Revolution (III) WAGE ROLLBACKS “-5;0;0” FRAMEWORK ENCOMPASSING ALL PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEES WITH VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS (E.G., THE CITY OF CALGARY)

11 Unionized Civil Servants’ Real Wages as Percentage of 1986 Wages YearsConsumer Price Index Change (%) Real wages as Percentage of 1986 Wages % Wage Change

12 The Klein Revolution (IV) PUBLIC SECTOR RESTRUCTURING CIVIL SERVICE – BUSINESS PLANS, PRIVATIZATION, HRM INNOVATION; ACHIEVEMENT BONUS (2.0%) EDUCATION – TAXATION POWERS RESIDE WITH THE CABINET (FROM 146 SCHOOL BOARDS TO 57) HEALTH CARE – REGIONALIZATION (FROM 204 HOSPITAL BOARDS TO 17 RHA’S; INTERMINGLING; 20/80 GUIDELINE)

13 TWO MINI CASE-STUDIES WAGE ROLLBACKS, 1993/94 THE LAUNDRY WORKERS’ STRIKE IN CALGARY, November ‘95

14 THE 5.0% WAGE ROLLBACK (1994/95) FEAR OF LEGISLATION WAGE ROLLBACKS VS. JOB SECURITY MEMBERS’ CIVIC DUTY MEMBERS GENUINELY SUPPORTED THE GOVERNMENT POLICIES THE LURE OF BARGAINING WHY WAS THERE NO UNION RESPONSE?

15 THE LAUNDRY WORKERS’ STRIKE (NOVEMBER 14-25, 1995, CALGARY) QUICK AND EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT REACTION THE STRIKE WAS ECONOMIC NOT POLITICAL UNION STRUCTURE/RIVALRIES LACK OF LEADERSHIP FROM UNA UNION POLITICAL NATURE LEADER ROLE PERCEPTIONS WHY DID IT NOT EVOLVE INTO A PROVINCE-WIDE ACTION?

16 CONCLUSIONS UNION INERTIA (HISTORY) LONG-ESTABLISHED BUSINESS UNIONISM YEARS OF STABLE RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT (compulsory arbitration) LACK OF NECESSARY SCRIPTS FOR ACTION GREAT CONTINUITIES WITH THE CONSERVATIVE/DOCILE PAST

17 CONCLUSIONS (II) UNION INERTIA (LEADERSHIP) NO ALTERNATIVE VISION PREFER INSTITUTIONALIZED MEANS OF ACTION  COLLECTIVE BARGAINING  STRIKE

18 CONCLUSIONS (III) GOVERNMENT CAPACITY FOR ACTION CAPITALIZING ON AND ENHANCING UNION RIVALRIES – 20/80 RULE; WAGE ROLLBACKS INCREASING MEMBER FEARS MEMBER DIVIDED AGENDAS MEMBER SURVIVAL NEEDS

19 CONCLUSIONS (IV) UNIONS LOST AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET INVOLVED IN PUBLIC SECTOR HRM INNOVATION UNIONS ARE STUCK – THEY DON’T HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE; THEY DON’T WANT TO BECOME PART OF THE SOLUTION AS DEFINED BY POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT FROM BOTH ENDS OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM THE UNION DILEMMA


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