Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Research: Union responses to migrant workers

My colleague Jason Foster has just co-authored a new article in Work, Employment and Society entitled “The dynamics of union responses to migrant workers in Canada.” It examines how five unions in Alberta responded to the influx of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) beginning in the mid-2000s.

Unions were found to (variously) resist the use of TFWs, facilitate employer efforts to hire them, or actively engage with TFWs and their specific issues. An important lesson from the article is that union responses entail trade-offs. For example, actively engaging TFW issues may be an effective way to engage TFWs, but runs the risk of angering the employer and potentially triggering employer responses in other areas of the relationship. The article also usefully engages the relationship between unions’ responses to TFWs (which changed over time) and the union’s self-identity.

-- Bob Barnetson

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