In recent decades, profound transformations in the global economy, as well as the recent and ongoing economic crisis, have fundamentally altered patterns of work, labour, employment and unemployment, the structure of labour markets, relations between employers and employees, and the traditional institutions of workplace organizing and representation. These dynamics challenge scholars to forge a new research agenda. Motivated by these changes, the Global Labour Research Centre (GLRC) promotes the study of work, employment and labour at York University. The GLRC orients its research mandate around five strategic research themes: (1) Work, Employment & Labour Rights; (2) Migration, Citizenship & Work; (3) Gender Relations in Work and Labour Movements; (4) Revitalization of Workers' Movements; and (5) Work and Health. These five areas capture dynamics and processes centrally connected to the organization of work in the contemporary global economy, and are related to key public policy debates about the organization of the economy and workers’ place within it.
The GLRC has as its primary goals and objectives the following:
- To support engaged, interdisciplinary, collaborative and accessible research with academic and community-based partners on pressing issues of economic and social justice linked to the changing nature of work (both paid and unpaid), employment, labour markets (local, national, and global), and labour (especially worker education, mobilization and organization).
- To foster collaborative intellectual community and mentoring relationships amongst faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and community partners.
- To develop and deliver innovative educational programs, tools and materials through collaboration between university and community-based researchers and educators.
- To cultivate and expand knowledge mobilization activities around work, employment, and labour research and critical practical knowledge about these areas both within the York University student body and the broader community (including but not limited to York’s immediate geographic community of Black Creek and York Region).
- To develop international linkages with leading research and learning centres for faculty and students engaged in the study of work, employment and labour. The GLRC works to facilitate connections between York researchers and international networks, and promote faculty and student exchanges and research collaborations through these networks.
The activities of the GLRC include:
- Organizing the Global Labour Speaker Series, a monthly public seminar series that highlights the research activities of resident and visiting associates and those working on research themes related to the GLRC’s focus areas.
- Hosting regular conferences and workshops
- Providing an administrative home for faculty and graduate students’ existing funded projects as well as those under development for submission to SSHRC, CIHR, CFI, MRI, and relevant foundation granting competitions.
- Hosting visiting scholars (national and international), connecting them to scholars and research networks at York and across the GTA.
The GLRC focuses its research agenda around four major themes:
1. Work, Employment & Labour Rights
The theme of ‘Work, Employment, and Labour Rights’ brings together faculty and students with research interests in the areas of labour market regulation, labour law, labour market policy, and human rights in the workplace. With attention to the impact of the changing nature of work and employment on labour rights, this research theme concentrates research initiatives around the study of labour rights at local, national, international, and transnational scales with particular attention to processes of gendering and racialization.
2. Migration, Citizenship, and Work
With growing international and intra-national movements of some and constraints on the movement of others, as well as increased capital mobility linked to new regimes of trade and investment, patterns of work and employment connect increasingly to citizenship and migration studies. In response to this burgeoning area of research, the theme of ‘Migration, Citizenship, and Work’ brings together faculty and students with research interests in the areas of internal and international migration and work and employment studies, particularly those with research orientations attuned to processes of racialization and gendering, and to politics of social justice and equity.
3. Gender Relations in Work and Labour Movements
One of York’s internationally recognized strengths is in the field of feminist political economy. A large number of faculty identify with this tradition, and the study of work and gender relations takes place across disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields such as Women’s & Sexuality Studies, History, Geography, Environmental Studies, Law, Political Science, Sociology, Work & Labour Studies, Development Studies, Human Resource Management, Organizational Behaviour, and Health Studies. This theme is oriented toward exploring gender relations in paid and unpaid work, as well as within labour movements.
4. Revitalization of Workers’ Movements
This theme builds upon York’s strength as home for a number of leading scholars of labour and social justice movements, both in Canada and internationally. Research within this theme addresses the question of how workers and other groups subject to economic and social injustice can build their capacities to foster progressive, equitable, and democratic social transformation. With a broad/holistic conceptualization of the labour movement, this theme encompasses trade unions as well as other forms of worker organizing
5. Work and Health
Bridging interdisciplinary research in both the study of work and the study of health, this theme brings together researchers with expertise in the multiple interconnections between the workplace, health, and healthcare. Research in Work and Health encompasses the study of the health impacts of work and work reorganization, the organization of health care work including both paid and unpaid care labour, transnational migration and care labour, and worker organizing in health sector workplaces.