PhD Graduates Louise Birdsell Bauer and Mitch McIvor with Professor Robert Brym on Strike Duration in the 21st Century

January 23, 2019 by Kathy Tang

PhD Candidates Louise Birdsell Bauer and Mitch McIvor have published a paper in the Canadian Review of Sociology with Professor Robert Brym. The article analyzes data on Canadian strike duration, volume, and frequency, and finds that strike activity has been increasing since 2001. The authors argue that this change can be explained by the reduction in wages brought about by unfavourable economic conditions.

Both Louise Birdsell Bauer and Mitchell McIvor obtained their PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Louise researches contract academic work in universities, employment relations, and trends in unions and strikes in Canada and the US. Mitch conducts research studying the relationship between university student debt in Canada and graduates' transition to the labour market. Robert Brym is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Currently, his research focuses on the democracy movement in the Middle East and North Africa.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full text is available online through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Brym, Robert, Louise Birdsell Bauer, and Mitchell McIvor. 2013. "Is Industrial Unrest Reviving in Canada? Strike Duration in the Early Twenty‐First Century." Canadian Review of Sociology, 50(2):227-238.

Canadian data on strike frequency, duration, and volume imply that the strike is withering away. Some research also suggests that strike duration is countercyclical. However, the early twenty‐first century was anomalous from the viewpoint of these expectations. After 2001, mean strike duration increased and was not countercyclical. This paper explains the anomaly by arguing that employers are seeking to scale back the wage gains of previous decades in the face of mounting public debt and the whip of an increasingly unfettered market. These conditions apparently motivate some workers to endure protracted work stoppages, irrespective of the phase of the business cycle, in an effort to protect their rights.

Read the full article here.