Bunkhouses, black flies, and seasonal unemployment: the industrial construction industry in Newfoundland, 1960s-1990s

McBride, Michelle (2003) Bunkhouses, black flies, and seasonal unemployment: the industrial construction industry in Newfoundland, 1960s-1990s. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The aim of this study was to explore the interrelationship between economic development and the impact of industrialization on Newfoundland's construction workers. My starting assumption was that the economic and political had a strong impact on the social. A qualitative case study methodology was used wherein three mega-projects were subjected to examinations to determine what impact the quest for economic development and its resulting industrialization had on workers. A combination of archival research, newspaper and other documentary research was backed up by interviews of by informants, particularly in the third case study. -- The empirical work focused on explaining the structure of Newfoundland's economy and the impact of the complex intertwinings of the social, political and economic environment on Newfoundland workers. The key shuctura1 dynamics to understanding the impacts of economic development were found to be the degree and effectiveness of employer support for good labour relations (which often played out in initial support for a union site), the state of the economy, and the role of the government in the project. As the case studies demonstrate, structural properties of class and gender were crucial to understanding the ways in which economic development influenced workers and workplaces. -- This study is also one of the first to provide an intimate portrait of the life of construction workers in Newfoundland. Examining the daily life on three different construction projects allows the study to determine change over time; and also provides a lens through which we can examine gender relations, occupational health and safety, and labour relations on the projects. This thesis, in providing a theoretically informed discussion of detailed case study material, contributes towards the debate on the role of the government in economic development. Because two of three case studies were legislated within a new set of legal parameters, by special collective bargaining provisions as special projects, the study may also aid our understanding of the relationship between economic development, collective bargaining and the role of the government. It also informs the debate on the role of workers/unions and employers in fostering better labour relations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11001
Item ID: 11001
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 333-349.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 2003
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Construction industry--Newfoundland and Labrador--History; Construction workers--Newfoundland and Labrador--History; Women construction workers--Newfoundland and Labrador--History.

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