A Futurist’s Look at IR/HR – Why it’s Time to Start Over

The 2015 Don Wood Lecture was delivered by Peter Edwards, Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific. In the lecture, Peter spoke about the future of work, including the changes that are taking place in organizations as new technology emerges, how these changes affect workers (particularly unionized workers) and how the HR and labour relations processes, like collective bargaining, need to evolve.

Topics include:

  • How technology (notably cellphones/smartphones) have changed the way we live, and will continue to change the way we live (ie: self-driving cars).
  • How automation in certain industries will replace human workers (including in the railroad industry) and the far-reaching impact this will have.
  • The need to change the collective bargaining process and new techniques for negotiating collective agreements, including the author’s personal experience.
  • Change management and the need for organizations to continue to change and evolve to stay alive in the future.

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr. Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries. Peter is the first Don Wood lecturer to be a graduate of the MIR program that Dr. Wood established. Fall 2015 marked the 30th anniversary of Peter’s graduation from this program.

Download PDF: A Futurist’s Look at IR/HR – Why it’s Time to Start Over

Peter Edwards Delivers 2015 W. D. Wood Lecture

Peter Edwards, Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific, delivered the 2015 W. D. Wood Lecture on November 6, 2015 at Queen’s University. Peter spoke about the future of work, the future of the labour movement and how technology will impact jobs.

Peter urged the audience to think about how things like controlling trains remotely, driverless cars, and completely automated factories are going to profoundly change the world.

“We either change with or ahead of them, or we’re out of the business. The world’s going to change,” Peter said. “We are living in transformative times. We’ve had changes like this in the past, but there’s just so many technologies coming together. There’s 70 billion of them in your pocket that you didn’t even know about, 2 billion in the phone’s core processor alone. The changes that we’re seeing will never go backwards.”

Peter brought the discussion back to today, and to our system of collective bargaining. He discussed his own successes in collective bargaining and his refreshing approach to union-management relations. To be successful you have to build a relationship, not just go into the collective bargaining process expecting it to be adversarial.

>> Download the transcript of Peter’s lecture here.

>> View Photos from the lecture on Facebook

Labour Arbitration and Conflict Resolution: Back to Our Roots

The 2010 Don Wood Lecture was delivered by The Honourable Warren K. Winkler, Chief Justice of Ontario. The Chief Justice’s lecture presented a synopsis of changes in the labour relations field. The Chief Justice spoke about the “Golden Era” of labour arbitration (1944-1967), and drawing on his experiences and observations, commented on changes in the field today. These changes include a shift in the culture of labour arbitrations, from one of camaraderie amongst colleagues, to a litigation-based process. He concluded his talk with a call to action for labour arbitrators to rid the “dysfunctional arbitration culture” by raising awareness of proportionality (the amount of time spent on a case has to reflect the importance of the case) and protecting the integrity of labour arbitration by ensuring a fair process, with affordable cost, and appropriate timelines.

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries.

Download PDF: Labour Arbitration and Conflict Resolution: Back to Our Roots

The State of the Union Movement in Canada: The Challenges We Face and the Innovations We Must Undertake

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries. Buzz Hargrove delivered the Don Wood Lecture in 2006.

In this paper, Buzz Hargrove, National President of the National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada (CAW-TCA Canada), reviews the challenging situation in which the Canadian labour movement finds itself today, tallies strengths and weaknesses, and calls for the union movement to be more innovative in addressing those challenges and weaknesses.

Download PDF: The State of the Union Movement in Canada: The Challenges We Face and the Innovations We Must Undertake

Automakers, Unions, and “Lobbying and Hammering”

Queen’s Industrial Relations Centre Director Carol Beatty sat down with CAW President Buzz Hargrove during his recent visit to campus and discussed developments in the automobile manufacturing sector and the role of his union in addressing major changes in the industry.

You mentioned in your Don Wood Lecture here at Queen’s that negotiated agreements with the Big Three auto makers are no longer set in stone, that they can be superseded by a crisis of the day. Given this, can you offer more detail about the recent GM and Ford announcements about plant closures? And what were you able to do for the downsized workers?

Let’s take General Motors as an example. Within a month of ratifying the collective agreement, we were suddenly called to a meeting at 7 a.m. CEO Rick Wagoner was scheduled to make an announcement in the United States that day. We knew it would have an impact on Canada when we were called in.

They told us that they were closing Car Plant 2 in Oshawa at the end of August 2008. They were reducing one of three shifts in Car Plant 1 sometime in fall 2006; thirty-nine hundred jobs total. We thought our operations were safe because we were the highest quality, highest productivity, lowest cost plant on the continent. We were shocked.

GM says they’re closing these plants because they have “no product” for them. They say they’re concentrating on producing vehicles that they know would sell. They were losing market share, and the pressure from Wall Street to get lean and mean was enormous. At the time, we were producing Buick LaSabre, Buick Lacrosse, and Monte Carlo. There was not enough demand for these models.

Our national settlement wasn’t touched but the job loss was huge. The message is: Even if you’re the best, you don’t necessarily keep your job. We’re still trying to help the downsized workers. A large number are ready to retire but we could still end up with layoffs. We’re trying buyouts, voluntary retirement, everything we can.

I know you believe that some of these crises are caused by the lack of a level playing field between North America and Japan in terms of auto imports. What do you propose to solve the problem?

The Canadian and American governments should say to Asia, “We’re not going to allow you to sell anything in our market you don’t build here unless you open your own markets to reciprocal exports.” It would also send a strong message to China for the future.

You’ve mentioned the industry will be in worse shape when China starts exporting automobiles. Is Ontario’s auto industry doomed?

All the analysts are saying that you can build a comparative vehicle [in China] for one-third to one-half the cost here. Wages, material costs, energy, tooling and machinery are all lower in Asia, even though every day you hear about mine disasters and other dangerous working conditions. There are no unions, no dissent. The real issue for us is: Do we really want to buy from whoever makes [a vehicle] cheapest at the expense of our own economy?

Without government policy changes, the industry will be a shell of what it is now in Ontario. Our economy was over-reliant on automotive to start with and the Auto Pact favoured Canadian parts as well as assembly. Now, all that has changed.

Way back in the days of Pierre Trudeau, the government was prepared to get tough in these situations. Why not now?

[Former union head] Bob White met with Trudeau and Ed Lumley back in the early 1980s when imports from Japan were growing. The Americans were forcing the Japanese to invest in the U.S. and Japan agreed to voluntary changes in the U.S. but Canada was ignored. Trudeau told Lumley to just “do it”: to tighten up inspection at the entry port of Vancouver. He also told Lumley to take the political heat from that decision and he did, and Trudeau defended him despite layoffs at the docks. There was a backlash in B.C. but they held firm until the Japanese government ensured that the major players made investments in Canada. It took a long time but they did it.

Why not now? Since we signed the Free Trade Agreement, there’s been this mood in the country that free trade is great, that it’s the fault of the auto makers and the unions if there are problems or layoffs in the auto industry. Politicians take great comfort from that. The Southern U.S. states were giving huge incentives to build plants there – 20 percent of start-up costs on average. But we couldn’t convince Jean Chretien to meet with us on this issue. No movement. John Manley was a free trader. Alan Rock was immovable. When Martin took over, we finally got a hearing. He appointed David Emerson as Minister of Industry, and Emerson listened and responded. Dalton McGuinty (premier of Ontario) too. They started offering incentives to the Big Three to invest here. We were finally getting to them on the trade issue. They made some strong statements.

Then the election came. Now we have to start over again. We’re not sure how the Harper government will respond to this issue, but we’re going to lobby and hammer. [Harper] will have to deal with me on this issue whether he likes it or not.

Thanks for your insight. We’ll keep a close eye on these issues and hope you make progress on creating that level playing field.

Money buys presence. Money doesn’t buy passion.

If you are observing a growing number of colleagues working one-and-a half jobs, complaining of chronic headaches, turning down promotions, and suffering strains on the home front, Linda Duxbury has this to say: It’s not your imagination.

As one of Canada’s leading researchers in the area of work-life balance, Dr. Duxbury, a professor in Carleton University’s School of Business, has the statistics to back up her view that organizational cultures undermining employee well-being are simply no longer sustainable. She was at Queen’s November 17 to deliver the 2004 Don Wood Lecture, an annual event co-sponsored by the Industrial Relations Centre and the Masters of Industrial Relations program.

As a self-described advocate for stressed-out employees, Dr. Duxbury used research from her database of 33,000 Canadians to show that organizations have not kept pace with dramatic changes in the workforce and generally do not support a healthy balance between work and home. “Employers can no longer afford to ignore the issue,” she said. “We have to see the link between how people are treated and the outcomes your organization needs… Money buys presence but it doesn’t buy passion.”

Dr. Duxbury’s conclusions are based on data collected from 1991 to 2001. Some findings:

  • In 2001, 58 percent of Canadians complained of “role overload” compared with 37 percent in 1991. Similarly, those reporting job stress jumped to 33 percent in 2001 from 20 percent a decade earlier.
  • In 2001, 26 percent of Canadians said they worked more than 50 hours a week; in 1991 only 11 percent said they did. Managers and professionals have seen the biggest workload increase, with huge jumps in unpaid overtime.
  • In 2001, only 43 percent of Canadians said they were committed to their organizations and an equal number reported job satisfaction. By contrast, in 1991 66 percent were committed to their organizations and 61 percent reported job satisfaction. “Life satisfaction” dropped to 41 percent from 54 percent over the decade studied.

Dr. Duxbury said the increase in work-life conflict is mainly due to five factors: the “myth of separate worlds”; changing work force demographics such as the demise of the traditional family and the increase in the number of knowledge workers; the rise in dependent care issues, such as child care and elder care; organizational cultures maladapted to knowledge workers; and rampant downsizing and restructuring. As well, technology such as email has increased expectations and made it possible to work “anytime anywhere.”

The cost of not instituting more human-friendly culture and policies is increased absenteeism and “mental health” days, higher benefit costs, lower levels of commitment and job satisfaction, and severe recruitment and retention issues.

“Our calculations indicate that employers could reduce absenteeismin their organization by 23 percent if they eliminated high levels of role overload, 6.3 percent if they eliminated high levels of work interferences with family, and 8.6 percent if they could eliminate high levels of caregiver strain,” Dr. Duxbury said.

With Canada entering the tightest labour market since the 1950s and the pool of “new” workers shrinking, the issue of recruitment and retention looms large. The shrewdest organizations, Dr. Duxbury said, will understand key generational differences, in terms of what employees want from the organization and from their bosses. They will create and support a culture that encourages autonomy, challenge and innovation, and work-life balance, and will institute “cafeteria-style” benefits that allow employees to pick and choose depending on their life situation.

Until that culture arrives, Dr. Duxbury suggests individuals be organized and set goals, recognize that balance takes work, use exercise to cope with stress, and “use faith to put things into perspective.”

As for maintaining her own work-life balance, Dr. Duxbury said she practises yoga with her husband, does no work from Friday evening until Sunday after dinner, and takes a one-month vacation out of the country each year. Before an extended absence, she sets a bounce-back email message that asks people to contact her after her vacation. And upon returning, she erases all the emails she received during her absence. A brave and balanced soul, indeed.

Dealing with Work-Life Issues in the Workplace: Standing Still is Not an Option

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries. In 2004, Dr. Linda Duxbury delivered the Don Wood Lecture.

In this paper, Dr. Linda Duxbury, a Professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, and Director of Research for the Carleton Centre for Research and Education on Women and Work, draws on her extensive research to show how organizations are not creating the conditions employees need to balance their working lives with family and other responsibilities.

Download PDF: Dealing with Work-Life Issues in the Workplace: Standing Still is Not an Option

Globalization and North American Integration: Implications for the Union Movement

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries.

In his lecture, Steelworkers President Leo Gerard talks about the threats posed by globalization.

Download PDF: Globalization and North American Integration: Implications for the Union Movement

Leo Gerard Takes On The World

Globalization and North American integration have created an economic elite at the expense of workers, said Leo Gerard, International President of the 700,000-member United Steelworkers of America. Mr. Gerard addressed nearly 100 attendees at the 2003 Don Wood Lecture on March 6, organized by the Queen’s Industrial Relations Centre and School of Industrial Relations.

Mr. Gerard painted a gloomy picture of globalization’s effects internationally—drops in per capita income in Latin America and Africa; a widening gap between rich and poor, both within and among nations; and financial instability, as evidenced by the East Asian crisis, economic collapse in Russia, Argentina and Ecuador, and global recession.

In North America, free trade agreements are exacerbating these problems, resulting in “obscene wealth” for the few and harsh economic realities for workers, he added.

“CEOs in Canada and the United States are rewarded for moving jobs offshore, for laying off workers,” he said, “for terminating pension plans and retiree health care coverage, for ravaging the environment and for violating workers fundamental human rights—especially the right to freedom of association, to organize and bargain collectively with their employers. In its present form, NAFTA would extend those perverse incentives throughout the North American continent.”

Reversing this, Mr. Gerard said, “is the challenge placed before the labour movements of Canada, Mexico and the United States—and since our political leaders seem determined to duplicate the most objectionable features of NAFTA in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, before unions in Central and South America as well.”

Further, a global social movement is needed to ensure that the concentrated wealth created by globalization does not compromise democracy, he added. “That, in a nutshell, is the most serious implication of globalization and North American integration-not just for the labour movement, but also for every citizen on our continent, and in our world.”

The Don Wood Lecture brings to Queen’s distinguished individuals such as Mr. Gerard who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or abroad. The son of a Sudbury miner and union organizer, Mr. Gerard grew up in the company town of Creighton in northern Ontario, started working at Inco’s smelter when he was 18, and rose steadily through the ranks of union leadership to become a key figure in the international labour movement.

Download PDF: Globalization and North American Integration: Implications for the Union Movement

The Gender Pay Gap In International Perspective

This lecture, delivered by Francine D. Blau, is a discussion of the gender pay gap in industrialized countries. It covers topics including key determinants such as wage structure, as well as trends, and public policy implications of wage inequalities between men and women.

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr. Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries.

Download PDF: Download PDF: The Gender Pay Gap In International Perspective 

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