[Podcast] Labour, Economic Security, and the Struggle at the Bottom

Cohen,Marjorie

In the first half of the program, Dr. Marjorie Griffin Cohen (Economist and Professor, SFU Department of Political Science and Women’s Studies) discusses current issues facing low-wage workers as well as the labour movement in British Columbia. On the podcast, we examine the intersections of economic insecurity for workers, high housing costs, and the inadequacy of current social programs and policies in the Lower Mainland.

She contextualizes current conditions facing many of the province’s low-wage and precariously employed workers by reflecting on the legacy of major labour market policy and employment standards changes following the election of the BC Liberal government in the early 2000s. Additionally, we discuss the prospects of Unifor, now Canada’s largest private sector union, and the possibilities of greater organizing potential within traditionally low-wage and non-unionized sectors.

Dr. Cohen has written extensively in the areas of political economy and public policy with special emphasis on issues concerning the Canadian economy, women, labour, electricity deregulation, energy and the environment, and international trade agreements.  She was the principle investigator of a five-year SSHRC Community-University Research Alliance Grant (CURA).  This project (called the Economic Security Project) focused on the study of the impact of government policies on vulnerable populations and how to construct policy to meet the needs of these people. Her most recent books are Public Policy for Women and Remapping Gender in the New Global Order.  

On the second half of the program, we hear from Ben Isitt, a Victoria City Councillor, legal scholar and labour historian. He tells the often tumultuous history of British Columbia’s labour movement, and in doing so, provides a window into the movement’s past challenges and future opportunities. Ben Isitt is author of From Victoria to Vladivostok and Militant Minority.

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