A New Year’s Message From Rafael Gomez, Director

Though this winter has been an up and down affair with the weather outside as volatile as the politics south of the border, I would like to welcome everyone back to the second semester of the 2016-17 academic year. This past semester has been an eventful one at the Centre. In October we hosted our Directors Debate speaker for the Fall term, Professor Roy Adams (McMaster University) who spoke to MIRHR students in his renowned passionate way about the importance of representation and voice for workers in a talk titled “Economic Democracy Now: Why Liberal Democracy’s Best Chance for Survival is the Establishment of Universal, Effective Economic Democracy”.

In November the Centre hosted the 2nd annual Morley Gunderson Lecture in Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, which CIRHR co-sponsors with the Department of Economics and Woodsworth College. The talk was given by distinguished professor Orley Ashenfelter (Princeton University) on November 11th at Innis Town Hall to a packed house. The talk, which was titled Real Wage Rates Over Time and Space (The McWages Project), was an eye opener in terms of some of the implications that low wage growth has had (and is having) across many parts of the US and globally.

In December we also accepted our first cohort of 7 students (4 Masters and 3 Undergraduate) for our German field trip which will take place in February 2017 during reading week. The reading course, which looks at the German model of employment relations, will involve an intense one week visit to Munich where students will be exposed to in-class and on-site examples of German workplace practices and employee involvement techniques.

Later this term Professor Adam Seth Litwin from Cornell’s ILR School will be presenting the Winter term Directors Debate on Wednesday February 15th from 5:10-6:30pm in room WW 126. The title of his talk will be “Superbugs vs. Outsourced Cleaners: Employment Arrangements and the Spread of Healthcare-Associated Infections” and it will be sure to invite lots of questions and stimulate debate, which is the purpose of the Directors Debate series.

On Thursday March 30, 2017 we will be hosting the 34th Sefton-Williams lecture (the third since Lynn Williams was added to the annual Sefton lecture and award dinner) and the theme will be “Trade Unions and Populist Politics: What The Trump Presidency Truly Means for Labour”. The talk will be given by well-known labour strategist and trade union journalist Rich Yeselson, while the award will be given to Elaine Bernard for her lifetime of work in labour-related research and her role as executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School since 1989. More details will follow.

As you can see the year past has been a busy one and the year ahead equally so.

On behalf of all the faculty and staff I wish you a great start to 2017.


Rafael Gomez
Director, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources
Professor of Employment Relations
University of Toronto
January 2017