The dynamics of union responses to migrant workers in Canada

Jason Foster, Alison Taylor, Candy Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines how five unions in the Canadian province of Alberta responded to a sudden influx of temporary foreign workers (TFWs), as part of Canadian employers’ increased use of migrant workers in the mid-2000s. The authors find three types of response to the new TFW members: resistive, facilitative and active. Furthermore, these responses were dynamic and changing over time. The different responses are best explained not by the unions’ institutional context, but by internal factors shaping each union’s response. Drawing upon the concept of referential unionisms, the study explores how unions’ self-identity shapes their responses to new challenges such as the influx of migrant workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-426
Number of pages18
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun. 2015


  • Canada
  • migrant workers
  • referential unionisms
  • union representation


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