work&labour news&research

from the cirhr library

UWindsor Faculty Vote to Strike, Fall Classes in Question

"If the University of Windsor can’t reach a contract deal with its faculty by Sept. 4, students arriving on campus could be greeted by picket lines."

"On Thursday [August 14, 2014], the Windsor University Faculty Association voted 81.4% in favour of a strike. Talks between the teachers’ union and the university broke down last month, prompting management to impose a new contract on faculty.”

"The main sticking point in negotiations appears to be wages. The university has demanded teachers accept a two-year wage freeze with a three per cent bump in the third year. Faculty have instead pushed for increases in line with other Ontario schools."

“‘We’re not asking for the moon,’ [WUFA president Anne] Forrest said, noting faculty is looking for annual wage increases of between 1.7 and two per cent.”

"UWindsor president Alan Wildeman has repeatedly called teachers’ demands ‘unrealistic’ and out of step with ‘the fiscal realities of the university.’"

Metro News, August 15, 2014: “UWindsor faculty vote to strike, fall classes in question,” by Luke Simcoe

 Windsor University Faculty Association — Bargaining 2014 [website]

Study: Net Worth of the Household Sector: A Canada-United States Comparison, 1970 to 2012


"Canadian household net worth per capita reached 77% of the United States’ level in 2012, according to a new study, ‘Net Worth in the Household Sector, 1970 to 2012: A Canada–United States Comparison,’ released today in the Economic Analysis Research Paper Series.”

"The report compares household net worth per capita in Canada and the United States from 1970 to 2012 using data from the Canadian national balance sheet accounts and the Flow of Funds published by the United States Federal Reserve."

"Similar studies are also available in the Update on Economic Analysis module of our website.”

Statistics Canada’s The Daily, August 20, 2014: “Study: Net worth of the household sector: A Canada–United States comparison, 1970 to 2012

Statistics Canada, August 2014: “Net Worth of the Household Sector, 1970 to 2012: A Canada–United States Comparison,” by Amélie Lafrance and Ryan Macdonald

The Millennials Are Generation Nice

"Suddenly, as you may have noticed, millennials are everywhere."

"The word ‘millennial,’ whether as noun or adjective, has monopolized the nonstop cultural conversation, invariably freighted with zeitgeisty import."

"But first, what besides youth sets millennials apart from their elders — the wizened silent generation, the graying boomers, the midlife Gen-X’ers?"

"The usual answer seems to be ‘narcissism’ — self-absorption indulged to comical extremes."

"But a very different picture of millennials emerges from what may be the most illuminating literary project of our era, the Pew Research Center’s sequence of reports on millennials.”

"What Pew found was not an entitled generation but a complex and introspective one…"

"…[I]n a range of areas, millennials have not only caught up, but have jumped out in front."

"Consider the approach many take to the workplace. Thanks to the 2008 economic crash, millennials know how fleeting wealth can be. Their solution? For many, it is to acquire not more, but less. ‘Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring,’ the Brookings Institution recently noted in a report by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais titled ‘How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America.’”

"The generation that gave us Occupy Wall Street has embraced its own modes of entrepreneurship, found across the broad spectrum of ‘creatives,’ from stylists to techies, who reject the presumed security of the corporate job and riskily pursue their own ventures, even if it means working out of their parents’ basement. At the same time, record numbers of new college graduates are applying for jobs in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or Teach for America.”

"Consider millennial shopping habits. Even in the realm of fashion, many are indifferent to prestige brands and lavish ad campaigns…."

"The Brookings report says millennials overwhelmingly ‘responded with increased trust (91 percent) and loyalty (89 percent), as well as a stronger likelihood to buy from those companies that supported solutions to specific social issues (89 percent).’"

"And consider food. The new generation may have had health-consciousness drilled into them at home or in school. But they have raised it to a new level. ‘For millennials, food isn’t just food. It’s community,’ The Washington Post reported last year in an article on the Silver Diner chain, which has developed an up-to-the-minute locavore menu and ‘started actively catering to those on vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets.’”

"Taken together, these habits and tastes look less like narcissism than communalism. And its highest value isn’t self-promotion, but its opposite, empathy — an open-minded and -hearted connection to others."

The New York Times, August 15, 2014: “Generation Nice: The Millennials Are Generation Nice,” by

These Numbers Will Make You Want to Join a Union

"Still have lingering doubts about whether or not there’s a union advantage?”

"Well, get ready for this:

  • Unionized workers in Canada earn, on average, 22.9% more than their non-unionized friends, working out to an average hourly wage of $27.71 compared to $22.54. In other words, a union will get you an extra $5.17 per hour on average.
  • Unionized women earn, on average, $6.89 an hour or 34.3% more compared to non-unionized women.
  • Among landed immigrants, unionized workers earn $26.75 per hour while non-union workers earn $22.10 (or 21% more).
  • Unionized young workers earn, on average, $20.13 an hour compared to $13.53/hr among non-unionized young workers — a difference of 23.3%”

"Among the more interesting patterns teased out by CLC [Canadian Labour Congress] is that the places where unions offer the greatest advantages happens to be in small town Canada."

The union advantage of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island is $10.64.

PressProgress, August 18, 2014: “These numbers will blow your mind and make you want to join a union

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Misuse Sanctioned by Harper government, Union Says

"Documents show the Harper government allowed Alberta companies to pay thousands of foreign workers less than Canadians in 2013, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says."

"Details of the internal government documents, obtained through an Access to Information request, were shared by the group at a news conference Friday [August 15, 2014] morning in Calgary."

"The labour group says the goal of sanctioning the underpayment of thousands of workers helped drive down wages in many industries, especially in fast food services."

“‘The truth is that for many, or perhaps even most employers, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has never only been about filling vacant jobs. It’s also been about driving down wages, not only for temporary foreign workers, but for Canadians broadly speaking,’ [said AFL president Gil McGowan].

"For part of 2013, the TFWP allowed employers to pay foreign workers five to 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage in the sector. That was changed partway through the year, making it illegal to pay them less than what a Canadian would earn in the same position."

"McGowan would not say how many of the thousands of cases the AFL highlighted Friday morning took place during the time when underpaying foreign workers was legal, and how many took place after the practice was banned."

"For that reason, it’s not clear at this point how many temporary foreign workers may have been illegally underpaid. But the AFL says the documents show rampant misuse of the program."

CBC News, August 15, 2014: “Temporary Foreign Worker Program misuse sanctioned by Harper government, union says”

Government of Canada, July 21, 2014: “Overhauling the Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Putting Canadians First” (41 pages, PDF)

Prostitution and the Internet


"The most striking trend our analysis reveals is a drop in the average hourly rate of a prostitute in recent years (see chart 1). One reason is surely the downturn that followed the 2007-08 financial crisis. Even prostitutes working in places that escaped the worst effects have been hit. Vanessa, a part-time escort in southern England, finds that weeks can go by without her phone ringing. Men see buying sex as a luxury, she says, and with the price of necessities rising it is one they are cutting back on. Even when she offers discounts to whip up interest, clients are scarcer than they were. In places where the job market slumped, the effect is more marked (whether prostitution is legal may affect prices, too, but the wide variation between American cities shows that this is not the only factor). The cost of an hour with an escort in Cleveland, Ohio, where unemployment peaked at 12.5% in 2010, has tumbled."

The Economist, August 9, 2014: ”Prostitution and the internet: More bang for your buck: How new technology is shaking up the oldest business,”

The Economist, August 11, 2014: “Why the price of commercial sex is falling” 

Also in the Economist:

Why governments should stop trying to ban prostitution (August 2014)
How the internet is shaking up the oldest business (August 2014)
A sex worker explains why criminalisation is bad for her industry (August 2014) 

(Source: tomblalaw)

Statistics Canada Rushing to Redo July Job Numbers


"Statistics Canada has taken the highly unusual step of pulling its latest jobs report after discovering a key mistake in its monthly snapshot of the Canadian economy."

"The Labour Force Survey is one of Statistics Canada’s most watched and talked about reports. The monthly figures produce Canada’s unemployment rate and provide insight into the strengths and weaknesses of various sectors of the economy. As a result, its release can affect the value of the Canadian dollar and influence the Bank of Canada’s interest rate decisions."

"The survey also lets policy makers see the strength of the labour market from one region to the next, informing decisions on everything from job training to permits for temporary foreign workers."

"Statistics Canada won’t say what the mistake was, but it is now rushing to produce new numbers and investigate what went wrong. It has promised to publish a full explanation once the review is complete."

"The incident will add fuel to a continuing debate over the quality of the federal government’s labour market data, which, economists contend, has generally been more volatile in recent years."

Canadians Spend More On Taxes Than Food, Shelter

The average Canadian family spends more on taxes than on food, shelter and clothing combined, finds a new study released today [August 12, 2014] by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.”

“‘If you asked people to name their household’s biggest expense, many would likely say housing, but in reality the average Canadian family spends more on taxes than all basic necessities including housing,’ said Charles Lammam, resident scholar in economic policy at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the Canadian Consumer Tax Index….”

"In 2013, the study finds that the average Canadian family earned $77,381 and paid $32,369 in total taxes (or 41.8 per cent of income) compared to 36.1 per cent for food, shelter and clothing combined.By comparison, in 1961 the average family earned approximately $5,000 and spent much more of its income on food, shelter and clothing (56.5 per cent) while $1,675 went to taxes (33.5 per cent)."

"The total tax bill represents both visible and hidden taxes paid to the federal, provincial and local governments. This includes income taxes, payroll taxes, health taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, fuel taxes, vehicle taxes, import taxes, alcohol and tobacco taxes, and more."

“‘While there’s no doubt that taxes help fund important government services, the real issue is the amount of taxes that governments take compared to what we get in return. With almost 42 per cent of income going to taxes, Canadians should ask whether they get the best value for their tax dollars.’”

"The Institute has also produced a short, animated video that graphically shows how the average family’s tax bill has changed.”

CBC News, August 12, 2014: “Canadians spend more on taxes than food, shelter: Fraser Institute”

Fraser Institute, August 12, 2014: “Taxes versus the Necessities of Life: The Canadian Consumer Tax Index, 2014,” by Charles Lammam and Milagros Palacios (12 pages, PDF)

Transforming Performance Measurement for the 21st Century

"During the latter part of the 20th century considerable progress was made in gaining widespread acceptance for performance measurement as an ongoing part of performance management — at all three levels of government and increasingly within private nonprofit organizations. This is a good thing. However, for the most part, the information provided by performance measurement systems has been both shallow and not always as timely as is needed to help managers operate throughout the year."

"Major advancements have occurred in the first decade or so of the 21st century that show great potential for enhancing the value of the performance information provided by these management systems. The opportunities for public and private service organizations to provide more timely and substantive information for managers are exploding. Major advances have occurred, and continue to occur, in areas currently being labeled with terms such as ‘Data Analytics,’ ‘Data Visualization,’ and ‘Big Data.’ The availability of such tools presents government and private for profit organizations with tremendous opportunities to improve the information provided by their performance measurement systems."

"This report provides a number of recommendations for making use of such tools to help speed up the development and use of modern technology. Technology-related problems exist, especially the need to provide user-friendly devices that can enable the manager of the 21st century to download at any time and in any location, from some form of electronic device, information that enables them to drill down into the latest available data. This is data that in the past would have required an excessive amount of time and resources to obtain. And, all of this achieved without requiring more than a basic knowledge of analytical methods."

"We hope this report will encourage implementation and use of these great opportunities for performance measurement and performance management in the 21st century."

Urban Institute, July 2014: “Transforming Performance Measurement for the 21st Century,” by Harry P. Hatry (91 pages, PDF)

Workplace Stress in the United States: Issues and Policies

Despite relative affluence, workplace stress is a prominent feature of the US labour market. To the extent that job stress causes poor health outcomes – either directly through increased blood pressure, fatigue, muscle pain, etc. or indirectly through increased rates of cigarette smoking – policy to lessen job stress may be appropriate. Focusing predominantly on the United States, this report reviews the literature on a variety of economic concerns related to job stress and health. Areas in which economists may provide valuable insights regarding job stress include empirical selection concerns in identifying the effect of stress on health; measurement error with respect to stress; the existence and magnitude of compensating differentials for stress; and the unique ‘job lock’ effect in the United States created by a system of employer-provided health insurance. This report concludes with a brief discussion of US policies related to job stress. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Survey of the United States.

OECD Economics Department Working Papers, July 21, 2014: “Workplace Stress in the United States: Issues and Policies,” by Michael Darden