On Union-Busting, Job Quality, and the Perils of U.S. Labour Law

The recent union election at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama has proven to be one of those all-too-rare events that gets the broader public to tune into labour issues. In the aftermath of the defeat, there have been countless analyses and accounts of what happened, along with prognostications about what this portends for the…

Analyzing the Amazon Campaign and US Labour

The aggregate numbers assessing the state of the U.S. labour movement did not look good in 2020. The spike in strikes we saw in 2018 and 2019, propelled by teachers, collapsed amidst the pandemic in 2020, with only eight major strikes (involving more than 1,000 workers, lasting more than one 8-hour shift). This is the…

Mapping the Current U.S. Political Terrain

When Joe Biden takes office tomorrow, the personnel in the U.S. government will change, but the deeper problems remain to be addressed. This creates a unique set of challenges and opportunities for those committed to addressing the pathologies that gave us not only Trump, but Trumpism.

Thinking Through the 2020 U.S. Election

The past few weeks have had more than their fair share of “through the looking glass” moments for scholars of U.S. politics. Donald Trump lost the presidential election, but not in the decisive way that many pollsters had predicted. And despite presiding over an historic economic collapse and a catastrophic response to a deadly global pandemic, he ended up losing while increasing the number of people voting for him, and increasing his margins among some unlikely constituencies, particularly Black and Latino men.

“Labor and the Class Idea” Comes Home

My book came out in the spring of 2018. I was on parental leave at the time, so it was hard to arrange as many talks and events as I would have liked. Then I came back to McGill for the Fall 2019 semester, and had a somewhat delayed book launch set for March 2020….

A Bit of Recognition

Yesterday I learned that my book, Labor and the Class Idea in the United States and Canada, has been awarded an Honorable Mention for the 2020 Seymour Martin Lipset Best Book Award competition of the American Political Science Association’s Canadian Politics Section.  It is both ironic and fitting that my book should win an award named after…

The Class Idea on The Vast Majority

Like many things in the world, this blog has been lost in the vortex of the coronavirus. I just logged back into my account to see that my last post was from the uncertain days at the start of the lockdown, before we really had a sense of how long this would last. Although I…

COVID-19’s Financial Fallout for Workers

On April 2, I took part in a live-streamed discussion on the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic for workers. The event was sponsored by McGill University’s Alumni Association, and featured myself in dialogue with Christopher Ragan, Director of McGill’s Max Bell School of Public Policy, and Chair of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission. You can find…

Transform Your Workplace, Save the Planet

On February 11, 2020, I had the honor of moderating a community forum in downtown Montreal around the theme of “Transform Your Workplace, Save the Planet.” It was held at St. Jax’s Community Centre on rue Ste. Catherine. The forum brought together a fascinating panel of speakers from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Green…

Where Do Unions Fit Into Socialist Strategy?

The core problem for Marxists is that unions occupy a paradoxical place in socialist strategy. On the one hand, they are essential for creating the collective working-class actor that is necessary to bring about socialism. On the other hand, by their very form they presuppose the continued existence of capitalism, given their primary focus on negotiating wages, benefits, and working conditions with capitalists.

Of Hoffa and Hollywood

I recently published a piece in Jacobin offering a sober assessment of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa’s legacy. He was a household name in his prime when he was heading up the Teamsters Union, and even today remains one of the best-known labor leaders in the U.S. He’s been on people’s minds more recently thanks to Martin Scorsese’s film The Irishman.