Changing Unions: Inter-Union Competition and Wages | WIP Seminar with Shannon Potter

When and Where

Wednesday, March 29, 2023 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
CIRHR Seminar Room


Shannon Potter, CIRHR PhD Student


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Meeting ID: 832 3858 5077
Passcode: 043389

Competition between unions is often argued to be counter-productive to the pursuit of the general goals of the labour movement. Critics of inter-union competition –  colloquially known as union “raiding” – characterize raiding as a predatory activity that wastes valuable union resources, divides workers, and ultimately serves the interests of employers. However, Riddell (2006) found that underperforming unions are the most likely to be raided, suggesting that raids serve as a disciplinary device within the labour movement. Overall, it remains unclear whether inter-union competition is beneficial or harmful to unionized workers. Specifically, we do not know how raided bargaining units fare in subsequent negotiations with their employer. More broadly, it has not been established whether the option to change unions affects unionized workers. In this paper, I explore the relationship between inter-union competition and wage adjustments for unionized workers in Ontario using measures of competition derived from the prevalence of alternative unions, as well as changes and attempted changes in union representation (i.e. raids). 

Shannon Potter is a PhD candidate in the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. After earning her MA in Economics at UBC’s Vancouver School of Economics, she gained hands-on experience in the labour movement both as an active rank-and-file member and in various leadership roles. This spurred her research interests in the internal structure of the Canadian labour movement, especially in the areas of internal democracy and the role of cross-union coalition building. Her dissertation research focuses on the role of inter-union competition and on the cross-union dynamics of strike activity. In a separate research agenda, Shannon is also interested in the tension women face between pursuing a career and having a family, which she explores via studies on the gender earnings gap and the drop in earnings women experience after the birth of a child (i.e. the “motherhood penalty”).

Our CIRHR Work-In-Progress Seminar series allows members of our community to discuss early-stage research. Future guest speakers include:

  • April 19, William Roelofs, Department of Political Science, PhD Candidate