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CAUT Bulletin Archives

February 2006

Paths to Union Renewal: Canadian Experiences

Pradeep Kumar & Christopher Schenk, eds. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2005; 336 pp; ISBN: 1-55193-058-7, paper $29.95 ca.
This new book focuses on the efforts and progress of union revitalization and organizing, and documents the renewal initiatives undertaken by unions in Canada. Unions, separately or in coalition with other unions or social groups, have begun to reexamine the basis of their organization and activity in the face of a harsher economic and political climate. Signs of union renewal include increased rank-and-file participation in the life of the union, increased democratic decision-making, evidence of new horizontal union structures, the development of a worker-centred societal vision, and a new emphasis on organizing both internally and externally. A key impetus for this reexamination has originated in the United States where the decades-long union decline has engendered new ideas adopted by a number of unions and the national central labour body the AFL-CIO. This in turn has led to debates on renewal strategies in Western Europe and Anglo-Saxon countries from Britain to Australia. Despite this, little detailed research of the processes, structures and implications of union renewal has been undertaken across Canada. Paths to Union Renewal fills this gap.
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