Wesley Morgan

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Robert Storey




This study focuses on the successful organization of the McMaster University Staff Association (MUSA), in relation to the changing labour processes of staff. Particular emphasis falls upon the norms, commitments, and allegiances generated in the everyday activities of worklife (i.e. the labour process). The first two chapters are oriented towards a more specialist sociological audience. In the first chapter I outline the theory which will inform the study, a dialectical materialist labour process analysis. In the second chapter I review the sociological literatures relevant to support staff and MUSA as well as the methodology used in carrying out the study.

In the following chapters I develop a rich descriptive account of the evolution of MUSA. In particular, I highlight that, while there were contradictions already implicit in staff labour processes before neo-liberalism, it was only when neo-liberal policies were implemented that these contradictions became problematic for staff. The key contradictions in the labour process were underpinned by class and gender inequality and centered around a tension between the more collegial forms of informal organization at McMaster and the more hierarchical formal organization of the University. As the labour process became more problematic, staff organized, voted to certify MUSA as a trade union, and went out on a five-week strike for their first contract. In both the nature of the grievances that staff highlighted, and in organization of MUS A and the strike, we can find strong influence exerted by the norms, commitments, and allegiances generated in the labour processes of staff. In tum, as staff have organized, the labour process itself has been affected. I end the thesis by considering MUSA's future and the attempts by the administration to respond to staff concerns and grievances, both of which will shape the on-going labour processes of staff.

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