Articles Labour

  • 100 Years After: Winnipeg General Strike

    Labour

    What made the Strike “general” was that it mobilized an entire class. This included Winnipeg’s unionized workers who voted overwhelmingly to risk hunger, permanent dismissal and perhaps violent repression to support their colleagues. But perhaps half of the strikers were not union members at all. Most remarkably, the Strike mobilized in large numbers those who had benefitted little from a labour movement dominated by skilled men of mostly British origin who appeared primarily interested in defending their own relatively privileged place in the labour market.

  • The tipping point

    Labour

    Until last year, the only acknowledgment of this historical moment was a plaque hidden in the underground walkway beneath city hall. With renewed investment in public art by the Winnipeg Arts Council, who are overseeing this project with help from Heritage Canada, myself and sculptor Bernie Miller set out to create a memorial streetcar in bronze adjacent to the site of Bloody Saturday, on the present day Pantages Plaza at Market and Main St., one of the city’s busiest intersections.

  • #MeToo: Fighting sexism through labour activism

    Feminism

    Labour history shows us that working people can make great gains when they come together to challenge the power of capital. But it also reminds us that workers and the labour movement must be vigilant. They must continue to resist rollbacks of hard-won rights and protections, and they must continue to push for new victories. The history of labour struggles over issues related to gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace holds important lessons that we can incorporate into our discussions of how to tackle these issues today.

  • Whither Work? The Second Industrial Revolution

    Labour

    There’s no going back to the so-called golden age of capitalism. Nor should we want to. Our technologies give us the potential to create a far better future. One that’s environmentally sustainable and one in which we have the time and financial security to do what really matters to us. Getting there will require a revitalized commitment to the common good, but there’s no specific blueprint for the ideal society. Each country, city and community will have to work out its own vision of the future it wants through democratic processes.

  • Will the Ontario Labour Movement Return to Class Struggle as Austerity Deepens?

    Canadian Politics

    The Ontario labour movement is in deep crisis, and has been staggering since the end of the 1990s. Given the labour movement’s historic role in leading and supporting progressive change, its current disorientation should be a matter of alarm to its members of course, but also to anyone concerned with countering the insatiable greed and social destructiveness of capitalism.

  • Canadian labour in crisis: the way forward

    Labour

    Unity does not come at any cost and trade unions should have the option of withdrawing from a central labour body on principled, political grounds, just as workers have a right to change their union if they feel their interests are not being served. Critical issues and principled class politics can legitimately divide central labour bodies and may even lead to the creation of several competing labour centres, as is the case in most parts of the world, where there is legitimate political basis for such splits.

  • Professional Sport as Sacrifice

    Culture

    Athletic labour provides an important part, although not the only part, of the emotional sustenance fans need. There is a tremendous cost to the athlete who performs this social reproductive labour. The body becomes so damaged that it is unlikely to ever fully recover its former capacities. The toll is also mental/emotional, for the loss of the physical capabilities that once served as the foundation for the athlete’s identity is profoundly dispiriting.

  • Fragmentation in Toronto’s Hotel Sector

    Labour

    Indeed, for hotel workers – largely immigrants, women, and people of colour – raiding is an expensive distraction that divides workers and gives employers an advantage. What several of these commentaries fail to acknowledge is that in the current structure of organized labour, fragmentation is actually the norm and unity is the exception. Fragmented union representation in the hotel sector is a prime example of this reality and has been this way for some time.

  • Workers strike back: Ontario’s minimum wage

    Labour

    The business backlash to the minimum wage increase has sparked a desire to broadly organize those in low-wage, precarious work, and to reform legislation so as to make that process more feasible. And while the developing news around UNIFOR’s disaffiliation from the Canadian Labour Congress could stymie the collaborate efforts of local activists to push back against the bosses, there is hope that a new era of organization might be just beginning.

  • Amazon Is a 21st-Century Digital Chain Gang

    Globalization

    When Amazon announced plans to locate a $5 billion complex as its second headquarters somewhere in North America, state governments fell over themselves offering billions in tax abatements and corporate subsidies to secure the prize. It might behoove the remaining 20 cities that have made the final cut to heed the warning from Virgil’s Aeneid: “I fear the Greeks, even when they are bearing gifts.” Especially when the gifts come in the form of a modern-day digital chain gang.

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