Crossing the Line: Unionized Employee Ownership and Investment Funds
David Bennett is the national director of the Department of Workplace Health, Safety and Environment at the Canadian Labour Congress in Ottawa.
Labor has traditionally been concerned not with the flow and utilization
of capital, but only with wages, benefits, and conditions of work. Up to
the early 1970s, there existed between labor and business general
consensus on the scope of collective bargaining and on the benefit
levels workers could expect. With the arrival of stagnating wages and
high inflation, the system began to break down; in the process, labor
lost a series of industrial battles.
This book describes how labor responded to the crisis by “crossing
the line” into capital concerns. It did so in three sorts of
circumstance: plant closures leading to worker buyouts, employee
ownership plans, and labor-sponsored investment funds. The author
illustrates these trends through a number of detailed case studies,
including one on Algoma Steel. He takes a pragmatic view of these new
union ventures, arguing that unions have to figure how best to represent
their members in circumstances not of their own choosing.