'How could management let this happen?' Gender, unpaid work and industrial relations in the nonprofit social services sector

Ian Cunningham, Donna Baines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article explores recent strike action in two highly gendered nonprofit social services agencies who had long term union agreements, a history of labour peace (upwards of twenty years) and a reputation for participatory, cooperative IR cultures. Drawing on qualitative interview data collected in case studies in two liberal welfare states namely Scotland and Canada, the article investigates a management shift resulting from government funding restraints (passed on down to the line to agencies, workers and service users), as well as a concomitant shift in industrial relations culture in which management moved away from more cooperative, participatory approaches to more hostile, oppositional approaches. Drawing on the following three components - - the voices of workers in our data, mobilisation theory (Kelly 1998) and feminist political economy - - the article analyses union-management relations in under-funded, contracted-out government services in both countries studied. The objectives of the article are to explore: 1. whether conditions still exist for a progressive culture of management-union relations given widespread restructuring and what that means for this highly gendered sector; 2. moblisation theory and feminist political economy, particularly in relation to gender and the NPSS; 3.whether austerity policies such as government funding cuts are leading to a possible convergence between private and nonprofit approaches to union-management relations.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1-33
Number of pages33
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Early online date24 Aug 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Aug 2017

Fingerprint

Industrial relations
unpaid work
industrial relations
tertiary sector
mobile social services
gender
management
political economy
austerity policy
funding
worker
strike
qualitative interview
welfare state
reputation
mobilization
restructuring
peace
Social services
Work relations

Keywords

  • industrial relations
  • social justice
  • social services
  • unpaid work
  • female workers
  • gendered work

Cite this

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abstract = "This article explores recent strike action in two highly gendered nonprofit social services agencies who had long term union agreements, a history of labour peace (upwards of twenty years) and a reputation for participatory, cooperative IR cultures. Drawing on qualitative interview data collected in case studies in two liberal welfare states namely Scotland and Canada, the article investigates a management shift resulting from government funding restraints (passed on down to the line to agencies, workers and service users), as well as a concomitant shift in industrial relations culture in which management moved away from more cooperative, participatory approaches to more hostile, oppositional approaches. Drawing on the following three components - - the voices of workers in our data, mobilisation theory (Kelly 1998) and feminist political economy - - the article analyses union-management relations in under-funded, contracted-out government services in both countries studied. The objectives of the article are to explore: 1. whether conditions still exist for a progressive culture of management-union relations given widespread restructuring and what that means for this highly gendered sector; 2. moblisation theory and feminist political economy, particularly in relation to gender and the NPSS; 3.whether austerity policies such as government funding cuts are leading to a possible convergence between private and nonprofit approaches to union-management relations.",
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