اتحادیه مهمان نوازی و تنظیم بازار کار: به سوی اتحادیه شومپیتری؟
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|17884||2009||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||11246 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Geoforum, Volume 40, Issue 6, November 2009, Pages 980–990
This paper proposes a conceptual model for understanding emerging changes in a North American labour union. UNITE-HERE, largely representing textile and hospitality workers, has been at the forefront of debates on union revitalization in the US and Canada. UNITE-HERE is often characterized as a successful example of North American union renewal, but I argue that this often oversimplifies many complex and contradictory labour strategies. Much of the labour union renewal literature remains prescriptive and is only beginning to escape false binaries such as business versus social unionism, the servicing versus organizing model, or ‘top-down’ versus ‘bottom-up’ administration. In this paper, I attempt to conceptualize the strategies adopted by the union as they exist in relation to the changing political economic landscape. I characterize the current labour practices as ‘Schumpeterian unionism’, a model which captures the shifting, contradictory, and multi-scalar relationships labour has with the broader community, capital and the state. The model is illustrated with a case study of UNITE-HERE Local 75’s response to the 2003 SARS outbreak through their establishment of a Hospitality Workers Resource Centre to service unemployed workers.
For over two decades, economic restructuring in advanced capitalist economies has challenged organized labour and with the rare exception of a few northern European countries, labour union density in many advanced capitalist economies has been in a prolonged period of stagnation or decline (Moody, 1997, Fantasia and Voss, 2004 and Visser, 2006). In Canada, the percentage of workers covered by unions is double that of the United States but has slowly declined to less than a third of the labour force (Akyeampong, 2004). The central question for many labour activists and researchers continues to be how labour can revitalize itself to maintain a capacity to shape economic landscapes. There has been no shortage of commentary on these questions as an entire literature on labour union renewal has been dedicated to the project for well over a decade (Bronfenbrenner, 2003, Fairbrother and Yates, 2003 and Kumar and Schenk, 2006). Geographers have also weighed in on these debates, although the approach has focussed largely on the question of the how labour can (re)organize at scales compatible to that of contemporary capital (Herod, 1998, Herod, 2001, Castree et al., 2004 and Tufts, 2007a). For many, union revitalization involves a shift toward a social justice or ‘social movement unionism’ which organizes communities around a range of issues beyond the workplace as a means of challenging the operation of the market (see Fletcher and Gaspasin, 2008). This departure is antithetical to the narrow ‘bread and butter’ business unionism which typified much of the post-war compromise industrial relations in Anglo-American economies. Even the staunchest advocates of social movement unionism, however, recognize it remains an ideal rather than actual practice. Moody (2007, p. 237) argues that social movement unionism has lost much of its ‘unique meaning’ as it now refers to any effort where the union reaches out to the community in an issue based campaign. For this reason, Kumar and Murray (2006) speak of ‘social unionism’ as a midway point between business and social movement unionism to characterize unions who adopt some of the more innovative strategies, but remain very much integrated into capitalist production. In this paper, I too propose an understanding of union renewal which is located between the binaries of business and social movement unionism, but I theoretically embed such union strategy in larger processes of economic and political transformation. I argue that many of the labour renewal strategies currently observed can be interpreted as not only a reaction to, but also constitutive of neoliberalism and the re-scaling of capital and the state (see Jessop, 2002 and Brenner, 2004). As an entry point into this discussion, the paper proposes a model of ‘Schumpeterian unionism’ juxtaposing the ideal-types of ‘defensive Atlantic unionism’ and ‘ideal renewed social movement unionism’. I compare four areas of union activity: intra-institutional organizing; extra-institutional organization; labour–management relations; and labour–state relations. Here, Schumpeterian unionism is defined as a model of labour organization that preserves working-class agency by adapting to successive rounds of economic ‘creative destruction’ (see Peck and Jones, 1994). In keeping with traditional Marxist interpretations of trade unionism, these practices are neither transformative nor revolutionary, but they may sustain labour as a viable economic agent within harsher variants of neoliberalism. Aside from the labour union renewal literature itself, the conceptual framework is developed from two sources. Its first theoretical inspiration is largely drawn from Jessop’s (2002) political economy of evolving capital–state relations. In a groundbreaking article, Jessop (1993) forwarded the Schumpeterian workfare state (SWS) as a model of state–capital relations displacing the Keynesian Welfare State established in post-War Atlantic Fordist economies. At its core, the SWS model characterized a number of national policies aimed at implementing the neoliberal project (e.g., labour market flexibility, innovation). The SWS model is inspired by Schumpeter’s (1942, p. 83) treatise on economic evolution that centred the process of ‘creative destruction’ as ‘the essential fact about capitalism’ that must be understood in order to understand overall economic development. Over a decade, Jessop (2002) refined his initial model to where he speaks of Schumpeterian Workfare Post-national Regimes (SWPR) as the successor to the Keynesian state. The SWPR’s focus is on: economic policies which increase competitiveness in global markets; downward pressure on social wages with limited welfare; the rise of networks of public–private governance; and re-scaled state policy above and below the nation. From a geographical viewpoint, the most significant evolution of Jessop’s model is the integration of how capitalist states re-scale economic policy to global (e.g., policies allowing capital to flow to low wage regions) and sub-national levels (e.g., policies enhancing regional metropolitan competitiveness rather than national economic development). Indeed, it was the initial aspatiality of Jessop’s model that inspired a number of geographers to explore how restructuring of the welfare state was being played out across space at different scales (see Peck, 1996 and Peck, 2001). Brenner (2004) has built upon Jessop’s work to define how the re-territorialization of state policies from the national-global and national-local has created a number of contradictory new state spaces. In particular, national policy supporting cities and the decentralization of power has shifted the governance and reconfigured state–capital formations toward the urban. It is the re-territorialization of the state to a number of scales which have proliferated the variations of neoliberalisms on the ground and requires researchers to now look at neoliberal policies as they ‘actually exist’ (Brenner and Theodore, 2002). The SWPR model and the work it has inspired have contributed significantly to our understanding of the evolution of the capitalist state and the complex ways local, regional and national governments have recast their relationships with capital and citizens in order to restore conditions of profitability in the midst of crisis. For labour unions, the implications of these policies must not be understated as they shape the quantity and quality of jobs delivered by capital and in some cases, challenge the rights of workers to organize effectively (Panitch and Swartz, 2003 and Fantasia and Voss, 2004). While in most cases organized labour has been the target of SWPRs, it is problematic to conceptualize labour as outside processes shaping variations of capitalist states. Another approach is to explore how organized labour is changing in response to shifting policies of SWPR and how these responses are in many cases enabling neoliberal state projects operating at multiple scales. While many emergent labour union renewal strategies can still be discussed as a reaction to neoliberal restructuring and the regulatory environment imposed by SWPRs, other emerging union structures and practices can also be viewed as an integral part of contemporary capitalist economies. In other words, it is consistent to consider how unions are implicated in various formations of neoliberal regimes since Schumpeterian economies will inevitably require the consent of Schumpeterian labour. It is within this theoretical framework, that the following discussion of labour union renewal is situated. Second, the model has been conceptualized through its grounding in a larger empirical project on hospitality sector unionism in Toronto, specifically the experience of UNITE-HERE Local 75 (see Tufts, 2003, Tufts, 2004, Tufts, 2006, Tufts, 2007a and Tufts, 2007b). While a number of campaigns and initiatives of Local 75 may be characterized as Schumpeterian unionism, here I present an examination of the unions response to the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Toronto which adversely affected the city’s hospitality sector. The specific case study is the Hospitality Workers Resource Centre (HWRC), a service developed as a response to workers displaced from work by the crisis. The case study demonstrates how the choices unions make can contribute to neoliberal agendas while simultaneously reproducing labour as viable institutions. Further, it demonstrates how ‘Schumpeterian’ unions are re-scaling their strategies in the midst of global challenges. Grounded theoretical approaches are a huge strength of contemporary economic geography (see Yeung, 1997) and any new theoretical work must remain grounded in real political circumstances of workers’ lives. Abstracting organized labour’s practices too far from the realities of everyday political struggles leads to analyses which are far removed from unionism as it ‘actually exists’. Following an elaboration and definition of Schumpeterian unionism, I present Local 75’s response to the SARS outbreak to exemplify the model. I conclude with some broader implications for the model with respect to union renewal and the broader labour geography project.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The above discussion details a model of unionism which is derived from both engagement with theory on capital–state formations and grounding in an empirical case study. As a concept, Schumpeterian unionism is not designed to be an all encompassing model. Given that the model is partially grounded in the examination of UNITE-HERE’s response to the SARS crisis, it is only expected that the case study illuminates the model (as it was designed). Like all models, grounded or not in specific empirical cases, there are limits to general application. But the framework is an entry point to greater understanding of labour’s relationship with neoliberal capital and states. It is itself, an ideal-type which is meant to better capture some broad changes in organized labour which remain far removed from other idealized-types of unionism. With other cases, there will be other ‘ideal-types’ of Schumpeterian unionism that vary over space and time. It is, however, a framework for the investigation of other labour union responses which respond to, and in many cases enable, economic and political change that is theoretically and empirically located between other reductive and normative models. There are, however, political and theoretical implications of emergent Schumpeterian unionism(s). Politically, in the case of UNITE-HERE, there are limits to its Schumpeterian unionism as practiced. While UNITE-HERE in general, and Local 75 specifically, have been viewed as successful examples of union renewal (see Schenk, 2005), it is inaccurate to characterize these efforts as any significant movement toward social movement unionism. Instead, union strategies reflect a re-territorialized neoliberal economy and state as they actually exist on the ground. The experience with HWRC did create a space for Local 75 to engage with the state and begin to consider new spaces in which it can shape the development of the accommodation sector in Toronto. The union is, however, participating in the creative destruction process as it advocates turning crises into a skills upgrading opportunity. While this is common, the local and sector specific nature of the union’s demands in this case limit broader social reforms and even the possibility of a shift toward a movement based unionism. UNITE-HERE‘s proposal of limited reforms to address the crisis is in keeping with the neoliberal state’s transition away from universal welfare provisions. In the end, these demands for relatively small reforms were not even met and the limited funding for the HWRC was a small investment for the state. Establishing a program that fosters flexibility and shifts the responsibility to adapt to crises to workers is simply a variant of neoliberal labour market policy. While the HWRC had some success, it was largely localized resistance. Instead of arguing for broad changes or ‘why can’t Canada be more like Sweden?’, the union settled for ‘why can’t Toronto be more like Las Vegas?’ Such a Schumpeterian approach by UNITE-HERE is expected given that the strategic potential to (re)regulate the local labour market through such a centre and the new spaces for engagement created by the re-scaling of state economic development strategies. Such strategies are, however, unlikely to inspire a mass social movement needed for economic transformation (or even much needed national employment insurance reform). At best, unions can engage new state spaces and the contradictions of urban accumulation and even improve the lives of working people in specific sectors and places, but the dominant economic system is inevitably reproduced. Theoretically, Schumpeterian unionism raises many questions and there are some implications with respect to the production of scale, the agency of labour in capital-state relations, and the broader labour geography project. First, a key aspect of Schumpeterian unionism emphasized here is the multi-scalarity of union renewal efforts. Schumpeterian unions do not recognize the primacy of any one particular scale, but instead focus on how different scales of worker mobilization or state control can be engaged with to the advantage of workers. In their analysis of the SARS outbreak, Keil and Ali (2007) argue that the same global connectivity which allowed the disease to spread so quickly also allowed international health care professionals to share information and transcended the limits of national based health care systems. Similarly, as the epidemic displaced hospitality workers from Toronto’s migrant and racialized communities, the union similarly marshalled action beyond and below the nation state, soliciting local support to federal officials and integrating ‘high road partnerships’ practiced in other countries. As Ward (2007, p. 273) reminds us “…the importance of acting at certain scales is always relative and contingent. It does not necessarily become more or less important in the move from the local to the global or from the global to the local.” As a concept, Schumpeterian unionism captures this fluidity and emphasizes how different scales of worker action and engagement conflict with and strengthen each other. Admittedly, the above conceptualization may be uncomfortable for some researchers as it abandons the ‘national’ as the penultimate scale for understanding the relative success and failure of labour movements (see Rutherford 2009). Such an interpretation, however, would conflate the theorization of how workers are producing scale with theorization of the relative importance of particular scales. Schumpeterian unions are engaging with the city as a means of leveraging local power, but this does not mean that the nation state or national scale remain unimportant in analyses. In the case of Local 75, the HWRC was a local initiative that engaged the federal government as a key funder and highlighted the inadequacies of the current national employment insurance program. Indeed, further research is required to examine what happens when local Schumpeterian unionism conflicts with other scales of organized labour (e.g., international head offices, central labour bodies) which are more reflective of defensive or social movement unionism. Questions of scale have preoccupied much of labour geography, but perhaps it is now time to expand discussions to highlight the role labour might play in broader processes of capital–state formation. An underdeveloped theme in the literature influenced by Jessop’s SWPR framework is the role organized labour plays in not only challenging but facilitating neoliberal transitions. The HWRC case and the consequent campaign for ‘high road’ partnerships regulating the local labour market are not incompatible with national economic development strategies which foster urban competitiveness. Over the longer-term, Local 75’s Schumpeterian unionism may increase the power of the union and even increase standards for workers while enhancing the overall competitiveness of Toronto (and Canada’s) tourism and hospitality industry. Labour geography is capable of producing more in-depth models which embed labour union transformation in broader processes of capital–state re-territorialization. Lastly, there is a broader theoretical implication of the above approach to understanding labour union renewal for the broader labour geography project. Indeed, Schumpeterian unionism does integrate significant agency for labour as it addresses broader questions of political-economy. In a recent keynote conference presentation, Wills (2009) differentiated labour geography, a project which emphasizes the agency of workers and their institutions in producing economic landscapes (see also Castree, 2007 and Lier, 2007), from other research on changing labour markets and relations which focus on oppressive capitalist structures which she defines as the political economy of work. The above conceptualization of Schumpeterian unionism may be taken as an example of how labour geography might contribute to broader discussions of labour union renewal and the political economy of work. Further, it is an example of how capital–state theory might inform labour geography. If labour geography is to flourish as a viable sub-discipline it will inevitably have to engage with a variety of literatures and approaches to labour studies. Excavating labour agency will remain central to the project, but rigidly applying an agency (an elusive and chaotic concept) litmus test to define the discipline may prematurely isolate labour geography from other research on work. As labour geographers interested in the emancipatory potential of our research and the power of labour, we must take every opportunity to understand the changing political and economic conditions confronting workers.