'Still in training?' Labor unions and the restructuring of Canadian labor market policy

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14 Scopus citations


The goal of this paper is to link the development of union training initiatives and their relationship to state labor market policy to an emerging literature on trade unions in industrial geography. In particular, I examine labor's involvement in state policy in Canada and consider the impact it has had on the direction of these initiatives at the federal, provincial, and sectoral levels, with particular reference to the Canadian Labor Force Development Board (CLFDB), the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board (OTAB), and sectoral training initiatives by the Canadian Auto Workers and the US Workers of America. Researchers in geography and industrial relations have linked post-Fordism to an enhancement of local union strategies and have suggested that one possible configuration of skill development under an emerging Schumpeterian Workfare State would include labor as an important stakeholder - especially at the regional level in a high-skill/high-wage vituous circle of development. However, in Canada labor has been organized historically on a largely local level and has been relatively weak in the formulation of state policy, nationally and provincially. If anything, labor has sought to overcome the legacy of localism. Although unions differ in central-local relations, overall they have fought for effective national, provincial, and sectoral representation in these initiatives. Labor has been able to achieve some input into this process, but the success of failure of these programs reflects more on national, provincial, and sectoral institutions, in particular the structure of capital, than on local factors or strategies by labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-148
Number of pages18
JournalEconomic Geography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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