Cornell University

International Programs

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Ian MacDonald

P1030072_2Country of Origin: Canada
Visiting Period: September 2011 - September 2013
Faculty Sponsor: Lois S. Gray

Ian completed his PhD dissertation in Political Science at York University in Fall 2011. His interests of study are political economy, urban planning and labor geography. Ian comes to Cornell with a two-year postdoctoral award from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Currently at ILR, his research is looking at how unions in the city relate to other urban actors – including firms, community organizations, local government and regulatory bodies – as a means of promoting economic growth in directions that are consistent with their role in collective bargaining. Ian's research will identify the transformations in industry structure, industrial relations practices, firm location and settlement patterns that challenge unions to engage in urban governance on this basis. The research will trace out the strategies that unions pursue within growth regimes as extensions of their traditional role in collective bargaining. Ian will also evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies in terms of promoting unionized employment, raising wages and benefits, establishing wage and benefit floors in unorganized sectors, and steering investment towards ‘high road’ trajectories that meet broader social policy objectives such as decent employment, quality public services, skills and career development, and livable cities. 

He will furthermore evaluate the limitations of these strategies from the perspective of trade unionists as they construe their interests variously not only as workers and union members but also as urban residents with plural identities and from the perspective of social policy. The comparative nature of the study - with Toronto and New York as case studies - will seek to identify how the institutional particularities and trade union traditions that differentiate the Canadian and American cases relate to divergent outcomes, and establish best practices for application in other urban areas. 

- Ian MacDonald