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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31878

Title: Race, Resistance and Co-optation in the Canadian Labour Movement: Effecting an Equity Agenda like Race Matters
Authors: Nangwaya, Ajamu
Advisor: Quarter, Jack
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: racism and organized labour
organizational resistance and cooptation
race and gender
labour education
Canadian labour movement
race, power and trade unions
white privilege and labour unions
racialized women and trade unions
Issue Date: 11-Jan-2012
Abstract: The purpose of this research project was to analyze the dialectic of co-optation/domestication and resistance as manifested in the experience of racialized Canadian trade unionists. The seven research participants are racialized rank-and-file members, elected or appointed leaders, retired trade unionists, as well as staff of trade unions and other labour organizations. In spite of the struggle of racialized peoples for racial justice or firm anti-racism policies and programmes in their labour unions, there is a dearth of research on the racialized trade union members against racism, the actual condition under which they struggle, the particular ways that union institutional structures domesticate these struggles, and/or the countervailing actions by racialized members to realize anti-racist organizational goals. While the overt and vulgar forms of racism is no longer the dominant mode of expression in today’s labour movement, its systemic and institutional presence is just as debilitating for racial trade union members. This research has uncovered the manner in which the electoral process and machinery, elected and appointed political positions, staff jobs and formal constituency groups, and affirmative action or equity representational structures in labour unions and other labour organizations are used as sites of domestication or co-optation of some racialized trade unionists by the White-led labour bureaucratic structures and the forces in defense of whiteness. However, racialized trade union members also participate in struggles to resist racist domination. Among some of tools used to advance anti-racism are the creation of support networks, transgressive challenges to the entrenched leadership through elections, formation of constituency advocacy outside of the structure of the union and discrete forms of resistance. The participants in the research shared their stories of the way that race and gender condition the experiences of racialized women in the labour movement. The racialized interviewees were critical of the inadequacy of labour education programmes in dealing effectively with racism and offer solutions to make them relevant to the racial justice agenda. This study of race, resistance and co-optation in the labour movement has made contributions to the fields of critical race theory, labour and critical race feminism and labour studies.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31878
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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