Workplace Empowerment and Disempowerment: What Makes Union Delegates Feel Strong?

TitleWorkplace Empowerment and Disempowerment: What Makes Union Delegates Feel Strong?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMurray, Gregor, Lévesque, Christian, and LeCapitaine, Catherine
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Pagination177 - 201
Date Published2014///
Keywordsdisempowerment, education sector, empowerment, new public management, shop steward, union delegates, union democracy, union renewal, workplace union delegate

This study of workplace union delegates in the education sector identifies a typology of the experience of workplace union representatives according to their assessment of their degree of influence in their workplace and their union and their degree of control over their work as a union representative. When combined, these two assessments yield different types of disempowerment and empowerment. While workplace context plays an important role in delegates’ degree of control, their influence in the workplace and union is strongly associated with different types of power resources (internal and external networks) and strategic capabilities (learning and articulating or bridging). Unions seeking to increase workplace representative influence should therefore look to the reinforcement of delegates’ power resources and strategic capabilities while looking at how to reinforce their ability to deal with more difficult contexts associated with feeling a loss of control.