Are knowledge workers beyond unions’ reach?

Are knowledge workers immune to the appeal of organized labour, or are they just waiting for the right model to come along?
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/28/2004

In the heyday of the high-tech boom, knowledge work emerged in exemplary form, a model of employment that expects passion, dedication and initiative from workers and in turn rewards them princely for those very qualities.

Unionization of knowledge work — or, to follow through with this example, of information technology work — seemed an improbable prospect in those halcyon days. What could a computer game designer or an e-commerce developer need from a union that they couldn’t get from their already doting employers? On-site massages for the pets they brought to the office?

Those days are indeed over, leaving IT workers with increased joblessness, a continual threat of skills obsolescence and the equally daunting prospect of offshore outsourcing. Devalued, certainly, but are these workers turning to unions? And if they do, do unions have the right model to accommodate their distinct work ethos?