For the past half century, industrial relations scholars have generally assumed that labour and employment law, terms and conditions of work and labour-management decisions are “local” matters, determined within the confines of nation-states and national systems of regulation. However, since the signing of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement in 1988, three forces have combined to undermine this assumption: 1) increasing economic globalization, (2) the spread of precarious employment, and (3) the movement to the post-welfare state. These three forces are interconnected and raise many important challenges to national systems of regulation, workers’ rights, stability of firms and the communities that depend on those firms for employment and so on. In the past few months, COVID-19 has further challenged this key assumption as remote work has been widespread. Remote work is not inherently constrained by national systems of regulation; however, local systems of regulation continue to apply increasing risk to employers. This course focuses on a number of themes that globalization and the new economy raise for workers, unions and the state. Through seminar discussions, presentations and the completion of a research essay, students will have the opportunity to explore these themes in greater depth and come to an appreciation of the increasing complexity of industrial relations in a globalizing world.
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