Can traditional unions help service workers? Prof says no

Starbucks workers protesting

Poster for talk on traditional unionsCan traditional unions help baristas and other low-wage service workers? York human resources management Professor David Doorey doesn’t think so. He’ll discuss the topic Thursday as part of the Global Labour Research Centre‘s Speaker Series.

The talk, “Traditional Unions Can’t Help Baristas. Can Non-Traditional Unions? A Legal
Discussion,” will take place Feb. 6, from noon to 2pm, at S802 Ross Building, Keele campus.

Doorey is director of Osgoode Hall Law School’s PDP LLM Specialist Degree in Labour & Employment Law and author of Canada’s Top Law Blog, Law of Work.

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about baristas and other low wage service workers looking to unions for help. Doorey will argue that those efforts, while valiant, are doomed to fail. Canadian labour laws aren’t designed to enable collective bargaining in these types of workplaces.

Doorey’s talk will consider whether recent Charter cases and the growing influence of American
labour law in Canada hint at an alternative route that could make collective representation possible in small service-sector workplaces.

The event is co-sponsored by the departments of geography, social science and sociology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

For more information, visit the Global Labour Research Centre website or e-mail