CAWLS 2016 Conference, University of Calgary, 1-2 June 2016
Fractures and Alliances Construction Work and Workers
Convenor: Suzanne Mills, McMaster University
Construction is one of the most common occupations held by men and employs approximately 7.1 percent of Canada’s working population over age 15. Despite its ubiquity, however, construction work and organizations representing construction workers have received little attention from labour scholars. This panel seeks to draw attention to construction work and argue that it is important to labour studies scholarship for several reasons. First, the fluctuating demand for construction workers means that construction projects often hinge on mobile pools of labour, either inter-regionally or internationally. This is especially the case for large industrial projects in remote areas, and in large cities. Additionally, the quality of work within construction is highly variable, ranging from very dangerous low paid work to highly paid skilled trades work. As a result of both of these factors, scholarship about construction work can provide insight into questions about the spatial strategies used by worker organizations to provide employment security and by employers to lower labour costs. Additionally, because mobility, masculinity and racialization are structural elements of construction labour markets, construction is a key site to examine inter-worker competition and exclusion on the basis of citizenship, region, gender, racialization, ethnicity or indigeneity, and questions of employer strategies with respect to unions and lower labour costs. Given the impact of recent economic uncertainty tied to oil and commodity prices on construction activity in Alberta and across Canada, this session will also highlight the embeddedness of these questions in broader economic context.
Please send your paper proposal to smills