Collective Responses to Precarious Employment

collective responses

Project Leads: Myer Siemiatycki (Ryerson), Philip Kelly (York), Jenny Carson (Ryerson), Karen Lior (TWIG), and Karen Goldenberg (JVS Toronto)

Research Team:

Student Researchers:

Objective: To assess the potential of collective responses in minimizing the economic and social costs associated with precarious employment. The project focuses on the potential of unions to improve the conditions of workers in precarious employment, the effectiveness of community agencies in supporting workers, and the role of alternative forms of collective action including workers action centres, living wage movements, good jobs campaigns, better enforcement of labour standards, collectives, social entrepreneurship and co-ops in raising household living standards. The project is rooted in the recognition that collective support for those in standard forms of the employment relationship (SER) is associated with strong unions. Supported by sympathetic labour laws, those in permanent full-time employment relationships were easier to organize into unions, and once in unions were able to solidify the positive characteristics of the SER. Unions have found it much more difficult to organize those in precarious employment.

Key Research Activities and Methodologies: This project involves three sets of interviews with different populations. The first set of interviews is with 40 individuals engaged in precarious employment to assess how they think they can collectively improve their working conditions. Individuals will be identified by community partners. A second set of interviews will be conducted with 15 agencies engaged in delivering services to individuals in precarious employment. A third set of interviews will be conducted with 20 union activists (at both the national and the local level) involved in organizing workers in precarious employment, and in particular workers from immigrant communities where precarious employment is highly prevalent.

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Resisting Precarity in Toronto’s Municipal Sector (Just Labour Vol. 22, Autumn 2014)