Comparing Employment Relations in a Cross-Border Region: the Case of Cascadia's Forest Products Industry
MetadataShow full item record
In North America, deepening economic integration under free trade has led to the formation of several cross-border regions between Canada and the United States and such regions have become a significant focus for public policy research in Canada. A key question is whether, as a result of increased economic integration, there are tendencies towards policy and institutional convergence within cross-border regions; especially in areas viewed as critical in determining competitive economic advantage. One such area is employment relations. However, relatively little research has focused on how, or even if, employment relations are changing within cross-border regions. Previous studies comparing differences and similarities in employment relations between Canada and the United States have tended to focus on one of three scales: the nation, the firm, or the individual workplace. Here, the focus is on employment relations within a cross-border region. Such regions often share similar economic and social characteristics. Thus, we might expect that if cross-national employment relations are becoming more similar due to deepening economic integration this would manifest most clearly at this scale. The empirical focus is the forest products industry in the cross-border region of Cascadia, comprised of British Columbia, Washington state, and Oregon. Employment relations are compared across three components of the forest products industry: pulp and paper, solid wood processing, and logging. Data are organized around case studies of each component and focus on employment, wages, and productivity; the restructuring of firms and ownership; the labour movement; work practices, training, and the reproduction of the labour force. The dissertation concludes that employment relations in the pulp and paper and logging industries in Cascadia are becoming more similar cross-nationally, while those in solid wood processing are increasingly differentiated cross-nationally. Moreover, it concludes that employment relations in British Columbia’s solid wood processing and pulp and paper industry are becoming more similar, while employment relations in the PNW solid wood processing and pulp and paper industries are increasingly differentiated. The dissertation contributes to broader debates in economic geography by examining the tensions between national and sub-national political economic actors contribute to the production of scale and territory.