Precarious Work and the Failure of “Human Resource Management”

The Globe and Mail newspaper recently ran a very thoughtful article examining the growth of precarious work in Canada – people holding multiple part-time or temporary jobs with irregular scheduling. Not surprisingly, this form of employment is very attractive for employers, because they can quickly adjust the size of their workforce as needed. But it’s incredibly difficult for the employees, who usually take these jobs out of necessity, not by choice. Many of them have difficulty getting enough paid hours of work to make a living, and they also have to struggle to manage varying work schedules that can change with very little notice.

In the article, economist Jim Stanford is quoted as saying, “If you’re treating people like a disposable input, you’re not going to elicit a lot of loyalty and creativity.” This comment brought to my mind another workplace problem that, in my opinion, is part of the reason for increasingly poor treatment of workers: the failure of “human resource management” to combat the use of exploitative forms of work. When I say “failure”, I don’t mean (more…)

Population Ecology and “Handmade With Love in France”

One of my favourite events every year, the Vancouver International Film Festival, is in its final week. This year’s festival was a good one for me – I saw seven movies, and every one of them had something to recommend it.  But the one that I enjoyed the most was a French documentary entitled Handmade with Love in France. It is a heartfelt tribute to some very talented artisans, and – although I am pretty sure the filmmaker didn’t explicitly intend this – it also illustrates the organizational theory of population ecology.

Population ecology in organizational theory is based on the biological theory of evolution; it tries to explain why (more…)

30 Years of Dysfunction, and Probably More

On September 16, after nearly a week of intense negotiations, British Columbia’s premier, Christy Clark, announced that a new collective agreement had been reached with the BC Teachers’ Federation. The BCTF recommended that its members vote to accept the tentative agreement. While there was some very outspoken opposition to the agreement, 86% of voters supported it, and schools reopened the week of Sept. 22.

In her September 16 statement, Clark, with Education Minister Peter Fassbender at her side, promoted the deal as “historic” and as (more…)

The Fraser Institute’s (Not So) Rigorous Data Collection Methods

I’ve written a couple of posts about the questionable research and data collection methodologies of the notoriously right-wing Fraser Institute. But today I have to take my hat off to the researchers over at Press Progress, who discovered that the Institute was (more…)

More About the Coalition of BC Businesses and the BC Teachers’ Federation Court Case

This week, the Coalition of BC Businesses was formally granted intervenor status in the BC government’s appeal of the Supreme Court ruling in the government’s bargaining disputes with the BC Teachers’ Federation. (A copy of the Coalition’s “factum” explaining its legal arguments is here, and the Court of Appeal’s written decision to grant intervenor status to the Coalition is here.)

Most of the Coalition’s members are associations whose members are groups in specific industries or with shared interests. The Coalition’s list of member organizations disappeared from its webpage a few days after its press release announcing the application for intervenor status. However, you can find a list of the Coalition’s members here.  As I noted in my previous analysis of the Coalition’s press release, since the announcement one of the Coalition’s member organizations has expressed its disagreement with the application.

After the release of the decision to approve the Coalition as an intervenor, I was contacted (more…)

Seeing Kate Bush

On the morning of March 21, I looked at my email and saw a message from katebush.com with the title “Pre-Sale Code”. That’s weird, I thought, an obsessed fangirl like myself would know if Kate Bush had a new record coming out, and I haven’t heard anything. What could possibly be going on sale? So I opened the message – and I screamed.

Kate Bush was going to play live.

To understand why this was such momentous news, you need to know that (more…)

All About Work’s Summer Vacation

While it’s still summertime, I’m taking a break from the blog to enjoy the sunshine, hang around in my yard, and kick back for a while.

Butterfly on a butterfly bush: a swallowtail visits a buddleia in the backyard. (credit: own photo)

Butterfly on a butterfly bush: a swallowtail visits a buddleia in the backyard. (credit: own photo)

All About Work will be active again around the second week of September, which means that I won’t be making my usual post about Labour Day. Based on what’s happened in past years, I’m sure that Labour Day will generate more than enough news to reflect on when I return. But in the meantime,  I hope All About Work‘s readers will remember that work and organizations are newsworthy and important not just on Labour Day, but all year long. See you in September!

The Return of Jonah Lehrer

When we last heard about writer Jonah Lehrer – whose career self-destructed after his writing was found to have numerous instances of plagiarism and factual inaccuracies – he had been paid $20,000 to give a much-criticized speech about journalistic ethics. A few months after that, he was reported to be circulating a book proposal – which also allegedly included plagiarized content. Then….nothing.

And now, very quietly, he’s back.

At the end of March, (more…)

The Canadian LabourWatch Association and Its Latest Anti-Union Poll

Last year, the Canadian LabourWatch Association got more publicity than it expected for its 2011 “State of the Unions” poll, after the Canadian Labour Congress filed a complaint with the Market Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) about the poll’s methodology. The MRIA ruled that the company conducting the poll did not violate professional standards, but also found that two of the poll questions were handled in ways that led to the release of “potentially biased” information. The finding of “potential bias” was particularly significant, since information from the poll was being used in Canada’s Parliament to support Bill C-377 – a proposed law that would put exceptional financial reporting requirements on Canadian unions.

Given the attention that the 2011 “State of the Unions” poll received, I was really surprised to randomly discover that in October of last year, LabourWatch released the results of a 2013 “State of the Unions” poll. Most of the media (with the predictable exception of the Toronto Sun and the Sun News Network) ignored the 2013 poll, and that’s probably a good thing – because (more…)

Is the BC Government Bargaining in Bad Faith?

This week, the British Columbia government announced that if the current strike by the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) extends into the start of the new school year, parents of public school students under the age of 13 will receive $40 per day for as long as the strike lasts. The reaction to this announcement was less than positive. Many parents stated they would sooner see the money go into funding public education or settling a collective agreement with the BCTF, and a University of Victoria economist pointed out how poorly organized the plan seemed to be. But another question that was raised in the discussions of the plan was: in announcing that plan, was the BC government bargaining in bad faith?

It isn’t easy to answer that question with a definitive “yes” or “no”.  And here’s why. (more…)