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New speaker series hits hot labour relations buttons

New speaker series hits hot labour relations buttons

Do workers’ rights still matter? That is one of the hot and timely questions the new Conversations on Work and Labour Speakers’ Series will be addressing throughout the year.

The first conversation, “The Future of Public Sector Collective Bargaining,” will take place Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 12:30 to 2pm, 2003 Osgoode Hall Law School, Ignat Kaneff Building, Keele campus.

Left: Steven Barrett

Steven Barrett of Sack, Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, Timothy Bartkiw (LLB ’94) of the School of Management at Ryerson University and Robert Hebdon of McGill University will discuss the issue of collective bargaining, a topic on many Canadians' minds right now.

Barrett, managing partner of the firm since 2006, practises in the areas of labour law, the Charter of Rights and constitutional litigation, as well as public interest litigation. An alumnus of Osgoode Hall Law School, Bartkiw’s research interests include industrial relations, labour and employment law, labour policy, public policy and political economy. Hebdon, a professor in the Desautels Faculty of Management, worked for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union for 24 years and his research interests include public sector labor relations and restructuring, collective bargaining, dispute resolution and industrial conflict.

Right: Timothy Bartkiw

The second conversation will feature Guy Standing, a professor of economic security at the University of Bath, talking about his new book, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (Bloomsbury Academic). The event will take place Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 12:30 to 2:30pm, at 2003 Osgoode Hall Law School, Ignat Kaneff Building, Keele campus.

Left: Robert Hebdon

“York had traditionally been the go to place for media and government policymakers for pressing and hot labour issues of the day, as well as long-term labour-relations issues,” says social science Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) and co-convener of the series with law Professor Sara Slinn. “One of the reasons for this kind of a speaker series is to bring that role back to York as the leading university in research and community-based action-research in labour relations and get people talking about labour issues both internally and externally.”

Standing, a former research director of the International Labour Organization and an internationally acclaimed scholar, will argue that the long-term work-based precarisation of increasing numbers of people worldwide is leading to the crystallization of a new class. The volatility and political potential of this new class is just starting to be recognized, he says. Neoliberal policies and institutional changes have produced a huge and growing number of people with sufficiently common experiences to be called an emerging class. This conversation is co-organized with York Professor Peer Zumbansen and the Comparative Research in Law & Political Economy Network.

Right: Guy Standing

There will be six conversations throughout the academic year, featuring nationally and internationally influential speakers from Canada, the United States, the European Union, international organizations and York. 

These conversations will foster more internal dialogue with students and academics, as well as law and social science collaborative research at York, and will help bring people external to the University into the dialogue, said Lipsig-Mummé. It will allow collaboration with labour and labour law practitioners that will benefit students, researcher and the wider public.

A website will allow those conversations to continue and deepen long after the panel discussions are finished. More disciplines than ever are now concerned with labour issues, which makes this speakers series highly relevant, she says.

As Slinn of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School points out, “York has a lot of expertise and interest in labour and employment issues. This speaker series takes advantage of expertise and provides a nexus for a multi-dimensional discussion on timely and important issues.”

Right: Sara Slinn and Carla Lipsig-Mummé

The conversations will encompass a variety of different viewpoints and ideologies regarding the topic at hand and will include union leaders, academics, lawyers and academics. “They are meant to be fulsome conversations. We hope the panels will be enlightening and interesting and will examine crucial questions at the heart of each topic,” says Slinn. “There aren’t many spaces in existence for those kinds of conversations anywhere right now.”

The Conversations on Work and Labour Speakers' Series is a joint project of Osgoode Hall Law School and LA&PS. A number of departments, programs and associations are also sponsoring the conversations.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.