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Bad Time Stories

Bad Time Stories: Government-Union Conflicts and the Rhetoric of Legitimation Strategies

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Bad Time Stories
    Book Description:

    Bad Time Storiesoffers a unique perspective on an issue that is sure to be of interest to scholars of business, public policy, and industrial relations, as well to those involved with public sector labor relations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1775-9
    Subjects: Management & Organizational Behavior, Business, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Chapter One Public-Sector Labour Conflicts: A Different Perspective
    (pp. 3-7)

    Since laws permitting public-sector workers in Canada to unionize were first enacted, collective bargaining has been the primary mechanism for determining wages, hours, and working conditions of workers in the public sector. (Here, public sector includes the civil service and the para-public sector, as well as such services as education and health care.) However, notwithstanding the enabling legislation, the past several decades have witnessed frequent unilateral actions by federal and provincial governments that undercut organized labour’s ability to exercise its legal right to strike and negotiate collective agreements (Swimmer, 2001b; Thompson, 1986; Lewin and Goldenberg, 1980; Boivin, 1975). Specifically, governments...

  6. Chapter Two Key Concepts and a Note about the Data
    (pp. 8-19)

    The importance of language, written and spoken, in organizational research has long been recognized. Language, symbols, images, and metaphors are the principal mechanism that people use to create a coherent reality that frames their sense of who they are as members of a specific organization. Through talking and writing, visual representations, and the use of cultural artefacts, organization members can reproduce or transform core assumptions regarding how the organization should be run both economically and socially.

    Like business organizations, governments and unions use language to reaffirm their raison d’être, enhance organizational solidarity (unions perhaps more than governments), and gain popularity....

  7. Chapter Three Government Intervention in Industrial Relations
    (pp. 20-42)

    How do governments, as sovereigns, intervene in industrial relations? How frequent and widespread is this phenomenon? How many employees have been affected by it? What factors can predict the likelihood of government intervention? Since data have been collected systematically only from 1978, the evidence for the 1960s and most of the 1970s is sketchy. It is known, however, that governments began to erode the rights of unions to call strikes and engage in collective bargaining soon after these rights had been secured in law following the Second World War. According to Panitch and Swartz (1988: 31), during the 1960s, governments...

  8. Chapter Four The Case Studies
    (pp. 43-71)

    As we have stated before, this book focuses on language and how government and union personnel mobilized it to legitimate their behaviour during labour conflicts. The context provided in chapter 3 frames the conflicts vis-à-vis various economic, legislative, and legal developments. Generally, the conflicts were a result of a clash between governments trying to balance the books and unions that refused to let that happen at the expense of their members. Our research uses material from seven cases of government intervention in public-sector industrial relations through restrictive legislation or policy.

    Table 3 presents skeletal background information and the main features...

  9. Chapter Five Authorization-Legitimation Strategy
    (pp. 72-93)

    Van Leeuwen (2008) and van Leeuwen and Wodak (1999) have outlined six types of authorization-legitimation strategy. As Tables 4 and 5 (see chapter 6) demonstrate, speakers in the cases selected for this study used three of them. Personal authorization, which is vested in the status of speakers, was practised in all cases. The most frequently interviewed union and government spokespersons were high-ranking executives and politicians. Union leaders, union executive directors, chief negotiators, premiers, and ministers expected to sway an audience by their arguments for several reasons, one likely being their position in the organizational hierarchy. Thus, it was thought that...

  10. Chapter Six Rationalization-Legitimation Strategy
    (pp. 94-118)

    Nearly one hundred years ago, Max Weber (1977: 325) argued that “every system of authority attempts to establish and cultivate the belief in its legitimacy.” As explained before, this process is multifaceted. In our case studies, besides resorting to authorization-legitimation strategy, unions and governments cultivated belief in their legitimacy through rationalization, of both the instrumental and theoretical variety. As shown in Tables 4 and 5, instrumental rationalization was widely used by unions and governments alike. In contrast, we could find only a few examples of theoretical-rationalization efforts.

    Van Leeuwen (2008: 113) defines instrumental rationalization as occurring when practices are legitimated...

  11. Chapter Seven Moralization-Legitimation Strategy
    (pp. 119-150)

    Moral evaluation is legitimation by reference to specific value systems that provide the moral basis for legitimation. Explaining actions in terms of public values identifies, or implies, motives that are expected to be publicly endorsed. It suggests that anyone in a similar situation might reasonably have adopted a similar course of action (Provis, 1996: 473–4). Sometimes, moral value is simply and clearly asserted using well- established yardsticks such as “bad” or “good,” “right” or “wrong,” “true” or “false.” In many cases, it is true, “moral evaluation is linked to specific discourses of moral values,” but “often, these discourses are...

  12. Chapter Eight Mythopoesis-Legitimation Strategy
    (pp. 151-178)

    According to van Leeuwen (2008), legitimation may be achieved through storytelling or mythopoesis. Stories may valorize or idealize the actions of a particular actor or course of action (moral tales), or may depict the menacing consequences of embarking on an ill-advised course of action (cautionary tales). In moral tales, “protagonists are rewarded for engaging in legitimate social practices or restoring the legitimate order … Cautionary tales, on the other hand, convey what will happen if you do not conform to the norms of social practices” (van Leeuwen, 2008: 117–18). In moral tales, the audience is shown exemplary behaviour that...

  13. Chapter Nine It Is Not All the Same (Stories from Another Book?)
    (pp. 179-186)

    The previous chapters may have left some readers with the impression that the behaviour of unions and governments during labour conflicts is largely scripted. The rhetoric of their legitimation strategies follows a predictable pattern, with plots that adhere to a similar storyline. Unions react in pretty much the same way to government intervention in industrial relations, and governments respond similarly to union behaviour that they deem inappropriate. The pattern that emerges follows one of two basic forms. First, organized labour beats the war drums once it suspects that government is assaulting its right to collective bargaining and strike and/or the...

  14. Chapter Ten Findings and Conclusions
    (pp. 187-202)

    Our study has endeavoured to address how public-sector unions and governments mobilized language to legitimate their actions during conflicts. Our approach does not focus on collective bargaining and strikes, which usually figure prominently in research on labour conflict. Rather, we have explored how, when in conflict, government and union seek support for their actions through the use of discourse. To that end, we have used language for data and critical discourse analysis as our analytical tool.

    In this book, language is the medium not merely for relating a course of action but also for explaining why that course is necessary...

  15. References
    (pp. 203-214)
  16. Index
    (pp. 215-222)