December 17, 2020
Dear Unifor Local #594 & Unifor Local 1-S,
First, let me start by thanking Local 594 and Local 1-S for their generous contribution to the founding of the Unifor Research Scholar in Labour Relations. Below I will outline some of the work that has been accomplished, and is currently on-going, thanks to this funding.
In my application for the Unifor Research Scholar position, I committed to two, principal areas of research. The first area promised to develop an understanding of factors lending to labour market exclusion and opportunities in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario. This thread of study drew from call back studies pioneered by sociologists and business scholars, which sought to better grasp why racialized and gendered workers received fewer call backs during the job search process. The project with Dr. Catherine Connelly at McMaster’s DeGroote Business School is on-going, as we submitted a federal Social Science and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant application based on preliminary findings and methods refined over the last 18 months. Together we supervised research assistants in both provinces and presented the tentative findings of our work at the Canadian Association for Work and Labour (CAWLS) conference at the University of British Columbia this summer. Saskatchewan-based case studies have yielded promising results, thanks to the research support from Hill (now Levene) student, Dylan Istace. Additional research assistants were hired in the summer of 2020 to assemble a literature review and to explore the implications of COVID on retail and other service sector occupations. The latter will contribute to a special edition of Workplace that I am guest editing, which pays attention to the effects of COVID on post-secondary institutions in Canada.
The second thread of research promised to advance a CMD-based study on community unionism and labour mobilization. Funded by Unifor Local 594 and Unifor Local 1-S, the research resulted in a comprehensive rebranding, communications, and community engagement strategy with the union leading into their most recent rounds of negotiations. Much of this work has lent to a revitalization initiative that has effectively transformed how the union relates to its members and communicates with the public. I have been actively involved with this process leading up to the union’s most recent strike vote. A peer-reviewed manuscript based on the findings has been completed with co-author, Dr. Doug Nesbitt. We are now in the process of revising the document and preparing for submission this month.
In addition to these projects, I am working with Dr. Charles Smith at the University of Saskatchewan on a book manuscript that charts the rise and fall of our province’s Trade Union Act, which acted as a beachhead of progressive labour relations legislation in Canada. For obvious reasons access to the provincial archives – which is required for the completion of this research – has been curtailed. And, with Dr. Sandeep Mishra, I completed a CMD study funded by IBEW Local 2038 that addresses the connection between workplace fatigue and impairment. Both studies have significant implications for the study and practice of labour relations. Throughout all of these initiatives, I have incorporated early findings into various undergraduate and graduate courses.
With Drs. Emily Eaton and Sean Tucker I am co-editing a book that examines the political economic aspects of the Refinery-Unifor Local 594 dispute through the lens of “just transition” and labour rights. The manuscript has been approved by Fernwood Publishing and is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2023. As a final point, normally this funding would contribute to conference travel expenses. For obvious reasons that work is now remote. That has allowed me to commit this money to student researchers who are contributing to the advancement of projects listed above.