PhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer and Professor Cynthia Cranford on Union Renewal Among Personal Support Workers

January 23, 2019 by Kathy Tang

PhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer and Professor Cynthia Cranford published an article in Work, Employment and Society that examines union renewal among personal support workers. The authors argue that the relations between support workers and their clients influence union organization in important ways.

Louise Birdsell Bauer obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her research interests involve contract academic work in universities, employment relations, and trends in unions and strikes across Canada and the USA. Cynthia Cranford is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research involves studying the intersections of economic change, gender and international migration.

We have posted the citation and abstract of the article below. The full text of the article is available here.

Birdsell Bauer, Louise and Cynthia Cranford. 2016. "The Community Dimensions of Union Renewal: Racialized and Caring Relations in Personal Support Services." Work, Employment and Society, 31(2):302-318.

Union renewal research calls for moving beyond broad terms, like community unionism, to specify how social relations of work shape renewal for different workers, sectors and contexts. Analysis of interviews with union officials and union members in publicly funded, in-home personal support reveal two community dimensions: both caring and racialized relations between workers and service recipients. Scholarship on care workers emphasizes empathy and coalition with service recipients as a key aspect of union renewal, yet says little about racialized tensions. Studies of domestic workers emphasize organizing in response to racialization, but provide little insight into caring social relations at work. This article develops arguments that both positive and negative worker–recipient relations shape union organizing and representation in the service sector by specifying the ways in which racialization contributes to this dynamic. It suggests that anti-racist organizing at work, alongside coalition building and collective bargaining, are important renewal strategies for this sector.

Read the full article here.