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Gender and unionism : representations in hotel worker unions Jamieson, Natalie

Abstract

This thesis focuses on the representations of gender and unionism in two hotel worker unions in Vancouver; one is an American hotel worker union (Local 40) and the other a Canadian, male, industrial worker union (CAIMAW). Between 1982 and 1984 these unions struggled over the rights to represent hotel workers. Rather than focus only on the complex series of events and allegations that marked the struggle, in this thesis I explore the meanings, ideologies and understandings of two different union discourses, one about gender and the other about unionism. Gendered ideologies and gendered union practices are expressed in the daily actions of unions and union officials. In particular I examine the circumstances of the struggle, and the organisation practices employed by Local 40 and CAIMAW in the hotels, to explore how the meanings of gender and unionism are expressed and negotiated within unions. The struggle itself was couched both in terms of nationalism (ie Canadian versus American International unions), and union organisation. Despite women’s predominance as hotel employees, gender and the concerns of women workers, were neglected as an issue.

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