Articles Labour

  • “Utopia on the Pacific”?

    November, 2002: Jammed into the downtown library, 2,000 activists roared as the results of Vancouver’s civic election were announced. For the first time since its formation in 1968, the labour/Left-backed Coalition of Progressive Electors swept the race, electing the mayor (Larry Campbell), eight of ten city councillors, seven of nine school trustees, and five of seven Parks Board commissioners. Visions of “Utopia on the Pacific” danced in the minds of campaign workers.

  • Fool me twice? Labour Politics in South Africa

    Campaigning on a platform of “A People’s Contract to Create Work and Fight Poverty,” the ruling African National Congress (ANC) received nearly 70 per cent of the popular vote in South Africa’s third democratic election in March, 2004.

  • Mining Towns and the New Hinterland Crisis

    The long-term decline in mine-industry employment occurs in the post-1970s historical context of globalization, in this way differing from the earlier generation of post-war hinterland crisis that devastated agricultural towns. The crisis is engulfing other resource-dependent towns, notably in forestry and fishing, as well as rail towns.

  • Winnipeg: City of Contradictions

    Winnipeg’s history is one of contradictions. On one hand, it was once the “Gateway to the West”. On the other hand, it was the city of labour and struggle. Out of their struggles sprung a wealth of labour and social activism and progressive political thought and organization.

  • G Stands for General Strike

    The July/August issue of CD suggested that it was high time for activists and the Left in the labour movement to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of significant political struggles including mass work stoppages. The point is not to reminisce, but to participate in a debate around how to build resistance to the right-wing hammerings we continue to endure, with, frankly, no end in sight.

  • Labour Report: 2005 and Beyond

    In a few months the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will hold its national convention in Montréal. Already many activists are considering the content of potential policy and constitutional resolutions and there is considerable discussion of whether there will be a leadership challenge to CLC President Ken Georgetti.

  • What Happened in British Columbia?

    The events that rocked British Columbia in late April and early May were both stunning and, sadly, almost predictable. Many progressive activists had forecast that a major labour confrontation with the hardline Campbell Liberal government would break out sooner or later. What few foresaw was the excitement in the streets as thousands of people rallied to back 40,000 health care strikers, and the euphoria as unions across the province geared up to walk off the job in solidarity.

  • Labor Report

    Last issue I wrote a column about the BC Hospital Workers’ strike and the efforts of the B.C. Federation of Labour (BC Fed) to organize support for the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). I expressed the belief that it was the solidarity of HEU members and the prospect of coordinated support strike action being organized by the B.C. Federation of Labour that forced the government to resume bargaining with the HEU and agree to the union’s demand to significantly limit contracting out of work. Some people whom I respect were angry that I was not critical of the leadership. I wasn’t and I am still not.

  • The P3 Files

    ncert Properties is a big business. Between 1989 and 1999 it built 80 per cent of the rental housing constructed in Vancouver. With an asset base of $450 million in 2000, it’s now the largest developer of rental housing in Western Canada. Not bad for an enterprise completely controlled by the labour movement. Concert, and its companion enterprise Concert Real Estate Inc., constitute one of the more visible examples of “worker capitalism”, a phenomenon that had its inception in the 1980s and is now flourishing across Canada.

  • The Americanization of CN

    It is day 16 of the strike at Symington Yard, the Canadian National Railway’s main hump yard in Winnipeg. The workers have been on strike since February 20. Since a deal has by now been reached, the question is why CN rail workers from Winnipeg to Montréal felt it was time to send a message to CN’s corporate headquarters.

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