Given the documented advantages of unionization, why don’t more workers support, let alone join, unions? This article presents findings from the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Niagara (PEPiN) study as they relate to precarious work and the union advantage. While precariously-employed workers in Canada’s Niagara Region enjoyed a demonstrable union advantage and were much more likely than other categories of workers to indicate support for unionization, a clear majority of precarious workers still expressed opposition to unionization. The article considers some of possible reasons for these seemingly paradoxical findings through a case study of recent workplace struggles in Niagara.
This study examines the views of full-time unionized university faculty at four primarily undergraduate universities in Ontario, Canada, on a broad range of issues related to postsecondary education, faculty associations, and the labor movement. The purpose of the study is twofold: first, to better understand the views of unionized professors regarding the role and effectiveness of their faculty unions and of labor unions more generally, and second to explore what impact such views might have on shaping the strategic orientation and political priorities of faculty associations in a context of unprecedented austerity measures and neoliberal restructuring in Ontario’s postsecondary education sector. Based on the findings of a mixed-methods survey, we found that university professors were relatively satisfied union members with a healthy degree of union—as opposed to class—consciousness, but had little appetite for engaging in political activities beyond the narrow scope of postsecondary education. This finding, we argue, reinforces the false division between the “economic” and the “political” in the realm of labor strategy, thus potentially undermining the capacity of unionized faculty associations to effectively resist neoliberal restructuring both on campus and in society more broadly.