Spotlight On: Rafael Gomez

October 10, 2019 by CIRHR Communications

Graduated: 2000
Thesis: The effect of social capital, salary compression and equity on individual and organizational performance
Areas: The wage and pay structure impacts of unions on CEO and executive pay, union and non-union voice at work, demographic issues related to the workplace
Now: Associate Professor & Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto

2020 marks 30 years since the first PhD was awarded by the CIRHR. Over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, the CIRHR will be publishing profiles that bring the research and careers of all our PhD alumni together in one place. Find out more.

Current CIRHR Director Rafael Gomez points to a former CIRHR Director in sparking his interest in Employee voice:

My mentor and former Director of the Centre Noah Meltz, asked me when I was a research assistant to work on a project that he and Seymour Martin Lipset were working on, regarding workers and unions in the Us and Canada. Until then I was not going to work on unions and worker voice.

  • The Paradox of American Unionism. (2004) Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Seymour Martin Lipset, Noah Meltz, Rafael Gomez and Ivan Katchonovski.

This interest continued to develop after leaving the Centre:

Moving to the UK in the early 2000s I landed at the LSE right when they were embarking on a major project called the Future of Trade Unions project. I met many colleagues including Alex Bryson and Paul Willman that I worked with and we had access to this great British dataset called the Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS).

Beyond questions of union and non-union voice at work, Gomez’ interests also include small-scale entrepreneurship, the wage and pay structure impacts of unions on CEO and executive pay, and demographic issues related to the workplace.

Selected publications


  • The Everyday Leader: How to Motivate, Empower and Influence Those Around You. (2019). Bloomsbury  Business. With John Cross and Kevin Money
  • Small Business and the City: The Transformative Potential of Small Scale Entrepreneurs. (2015). Toronto: Rotman/UofT Press. With Matt Semansky and Andre Isakov.
  • The Little Black Book for Managers: Maximizing Your Key Moments of Power as a Manager. (2013). Chichester: Capstone-Wiley Press. With John Cross and Kevin Money

Gomez has contributed to numerous government advisory panels and non-governmental organizations, including for the Government of Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review, the Broadbent Institute, the Autonomous Region of Aragon, Spain, as well as several branches of the Canadian federal govenment. Recent examples include:

Gomez’ work includes many collaborations with CIRHR faculty, students and alumni. With Danielle Lamb (CIRHR PhD 2012), he was a winner of the 2 018 Best Paper Competition LERA/ILR Review Special Series in Employment Relations for the article, "Unions and Non-Standard Work: Union Representation and Wage Premiums across Non-Standard Work Arrangements in Canada, 1997–2014." Other collaborators include Xiaoyu Huang (CIRHR PhD 2016), Umar Boodoo (CIRHR PhD 2016), Tingting Zhang (CIRHR PhD 2017), and CIRHR professors Michele Campolieti, Morley Gunderson, and Anil Verma.

Selected publications:

  • "Do Immigrants Gain or Lose by Occupational Licensing?" (2015) Canadian Public Policy 41(1): S80-S97. w/t Morley Gunderson, Xiaoyu Huang, Tingting Zhang,
  • Relative income, absolute income and the life satisfaction of older adults: do retirees differ from the non-retired?”. (2014) Industrial Relations Journal, 45: 281–299. doi: 10.1111/irj.12052. with Boodoo, U. M. and Gunderson,
  • “Managerial Hostility and Attitudes Towards Unions: A Canada-US Comparison” (2013) Journal of Labor Research. Volume 34, Issue 1, March 2013. Pp.99-119. With M Campolieti and M Gunderson

Reflecting on favourite times as a student at the Centre, Gomez says

Working in the library or computer lab (which was then in the basement) sometimes all night with my friends on major projects such as research methods and what is now Foundations of IR/HR. Getting takeout food from one of those food trucks on St. George….I think some are still out there! It was great.

Before coming to the CIRHR, Gomez received his BA in Economics and Political Science from Glendon College and York University and his MA in Economics at U of T. He completed both his MIRHR and PhD at the Centre, and then went on to teach at the London School of Economics and later Glendon College. He returned to the University of Toronto in 2009 and is now Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources.