#5 April 19, 2023
« Deliberating with the Public about Democratizing Work: Reflecting on the Ontario Assembly on Workplace Democracy, Canada »

Time: 7am San Francisco-Vancouver | 8am Mexico City | 9am Bogota | 10am Santiago-NYC-Montréal | 4pm ParisJohannesburg | 7.30pm New Delhi | 9pm Jakarta | 12am Sydney

Location: online

Organizers: #DemocratizingWork, Ontario Assembly on Workplace Democracy, and OSUN Economic Democracy Initiative

Speakers: Simon Pek (University of Victoria), Rafael Gomez (University of Toronto), Angelo DiCaro (Unifor), and Greta Whipple (UFCW)

The movement to democratize work is gaining momentum around the world. To date, much policy-making about workplace democracy centers on the perspectives of academic and policy experts, business owners and advocates, and labour advocate. While these perspectives are undoubtedly important, it is also important to learn from and engage with workers of all walks of life to ensure their voices are heard. This webinar explores how this can be done practice. It brings together four panelists to discuss their experience with the Ontario Assembly on Workplace Democracy. This was the first of its kind deliberative mini-public focused on this topic. It brought together 32 Ontarians selected through a democratic lottery to deliberate about their concerns about the status quo and their recommendations for improvement. The four panelists—which include two organizers and two stakeholders—will discuss the origin and format of the initiative, its policy implications, and lessons learned that can contribute to the movement to democratize work.

Simon Pek currently works as an Associate Professor of Business and Society at the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria. His primary research interests centre on helping democratic organizations like co-operatives, schools, and unions achieve their social and environmental objectives through the use of democratic innovations. He is particularly interested in collaborating with organizations on joint action research projects. Simon served as the Steering Committee Lead of the Ontario Assembly on Workplace Democracy in 2022. She also co-founded and serves as a member of the board of directors of Democracy In Practice, a non-profit dedicated to democratic experimentation, innovation, and capacity-building.

Rafael Gomez is professor of employment relations at the University of Toronto. He has served as the Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources from 2015-2020, and reappointed as Director July 1, 2021. He received a BA in economics and political science from Glendon College (York University) and an MA in economics and a PhD in industrial relations from the University of Toronto. His previous appointments include the London School of Economics as a senior lecturer in management and industrial relations. He has been invited to conduct research and lecture at universities around the world, including Madrid, Moscow, Munich, Beijing and Zurich. In 2005 he was awarded the Labor and Employment Relations Association’s John T. Dunlop Outstanding Scholar Award for exceptional contributions to international and comparative labour and employment research. In 2013-14 his book The Little Black Book for Managers was a UK business book business bestseller and in 2015 his book Small Business and the City was published by U of T/Rotman press. His current research examines the role of unions and other labour market institutions in the provision of employee voice and what this means for workers and broader democratic engagement.

Angelo DiCaro is the Director of Research for Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union. Angelo leads Unifor’s strategic economic and policy research, and oversees the union’s auto sector policy and international trade policy work, among other key files. Angelo represented Unifor as part of the federal government’s Labour Consultation Group during recent NAFTA renegotiations. He participates in various national and international trade research fora, including through the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the IndustriALL global union Working Group on Trade and Industrial Policy, and was involved in the historic round of Unifor-Detroit 3 collective bargaining in 2020. Angelo is a graduate of York University’s Labour Studies Program and holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial Relations from the University of Toronto. Prior to coming on staff in 2006, Angelo was a supermarket clerk and union steward at Dominion Stores (now Metro) and is still a proud member of Unifor Local 414. He lives in Milton, Ontario.

Greta Whipple is an actor and labour organizer, with a particular focus on empowering workers in the retail sector. In partnership with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) she organized a successful union drive at Indigo Books & Music’s Yorkdale location in 2021, and served on the bargaining committee to negotiate a landmark first contract for her workplace. Greta participated in the Ontario Assembly on Workplace Democracy in 2022, and has also spoken about her experience with unionizing at the Young Workers Rights Hub at Toronto Metropolitan University. »

The recording is available in English on this page