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PowerShare: Shaping Future Work

PowerShare is a multi-year independent inquiry into strategies for sharing power at work. Led by economist Jim Stanford, it is the first project of the Centre for Future Work (Canada) and supported by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Atkinson Foundation.

Everyone knows many forces are transforming work today: technology, business models, labour regulations and policies, social attitudes, and a global pandemic. What we don’t know is how workers will determine what work becomes. How can they use their collective voice and power to shape the future of work, and protect their interests?

“The traditional foundations of worker power in workplaces – such as unions and collective bargaining, wage regulations, and occupational demarcations – have been challenged by digital technology, the growth of platform work and ‘gigs’, and a creeping individualization of work culture and employment relations,” explains Jim. “But an efficient and fair labour market needs effective structures and practices through which workers have the voice and power to create a world of better, fairer work.”

He asks: “How can traditional mechanisms of worker voice and agency evolve to reflect the new realities of work? And what new practices and structures could help to redress the imbalance between people who work for a living (in increasingly varied ways) and those they work for?”

Jim and his collaborators will research and publish a series of papers over the course of this project. Topics under consideration include:

  • Trade Union Responses to the Changing Future of Work: Lessons from Canadian and International Experience
  • Identity and Collective Power: How Gender, Racial, and Cultural Communities of Interest can Build Stronger Voice and Agency
  • A Workers’ Agenda for Regulating Technological Change
  • Environmental Transitions, the Future of Work, and Worker Agency

Read the reports that have been published so far below.

You can also check out Jim’s Five Contrarian Ideas on the Future of Work commissioned by Atkinson for the International Labour Organization’s centenary in 2019.

Register on the Centre’s website to receive notices of publications and activities.

Where are the Robots?
The Surprising Deceleration of Technology in Canadian Workplaces
Many conversations around automation in the workplace warn that robots will eat workers' jobs. This report by Jim Stanford investigates the state of automation in Canada and comes to some surprising conclusions about how tech investments might actually lead to more decent work for people.
Bargaining Tech
Strategies for Shaping Technological Change to Benefit Workers
The impact of technological change on jobs, work, and workers in Canada has been a dominant discussion point in the future of work. In this report, Jim Stanford and Kathy Bennett investigate the facts on tech and how workers are mobilizing to shape its use.
Speaking Up, Being Heard, Making Change
The Theory and Practice of Worker Voice in Canada Today
When workers organize to have a collective voice at work that’s listened to and acted on the whole economy benefits. This report by Jim Stanford and Daniel Poon lays out the different types of worker voice and eight strategies for strengthening it in Canada.
10 Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic Must Change Work for Good
The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis has exposed critical weaknesses in labour laws and policies across Canada. This report by Jim Stanford outlines 10 ways workers must be protected, compensated, and engaged for work to change for good.