ACW Mourns Passing of Green Built Environment Expert, Prof. Colin Patrick Gleeson

Prof. Colin Gleeson, University of Westminter (U.K.)

 

The ACW community is mourning the loss of one of its most important collaborators, Prof. Colin Patrick Gleeson, who passed away March 7 in London, U.K., after a lengthy illness.

Colin Gleeson was a Reader at the University of Westminster’s School of Architecture and the Built Environment, an academic staff member of the ProBE Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment, and a valued member of the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Response to Climate Change (ACW): Canada in International Perspective research project, based at York University, where he participated in both the Built Environment and International Policy working groups.

 

ACW’s Principal Investigator, Dr. Carla Lipsig-Mummé, Professor of Work and Labour Studies, said, “Colin Gleeson has been with us from the beginning: a brilliant researcher, pioneering analyst, gifted writer, and essential to our project. He has been with us from the first days and his work is increasingly used internationally. On another level, Colin is a vivid friend, filled with energy and a hunger to delve deep and deeper on the widest ranging topics. Two images stay with me: I can see Colin standing inside the door of the London Review of Books bookstore after coffee for 5 at a table for 2, talking animatedly with my husband, an architect and an engineer, their backs against the outdoor sunlight, Colin’s hands raised and flailing to make his point. And another time, we are all, the ACW group, at a staid conference on labour process. Colin’s presentation needs a big screen, and there he is, running to leap at the screen to point out the high parts, twirling and returning to the screen from another angle. Vivid, warm, a lifelong friend to his friends… I will miss him.”

 

Long-time colleague at the University of Westminster, Professor Linda Clarke, added, “I will always picture Colin, rushing into my room, sitting himself down, and enthusiastically explaining a new idea, sharing a discovery or asking for thoughts on something or other, which often involved opening his laptop and going into detail. He loved being involved in the ACW programme. When we went on research trips, including to Denmark, Glasgow, Yorkshire, Devon, Colin would endlessly quiz, question and discuss with whoever we were visiting, always curious, eager to learn, and interested. On our many long journeys together whether to Brussels, Copenhagen or Canada, we had a constant banter going, back and forth, enjoying each other’s company. He was the life and soul of our Research Centre, ProBE (Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment), the expert on low energy construction, stalking up and down waving his arms as he gave a presentation. And in the union, he would be relied on to attend meetings and the first on the picket line, holding a placard high in the air. We are all going to miss him.”

 

Associate Professor John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, said, “Colin was unique in many ways because he combined his professional training as a building science engineer with a commitment to applying his knowledge in the social sciences and, particularly, the areas of workplace organization and labour relations. He was an incredibly curious person who was always asking questions about how and why we did things the way we did. He was also dedicated to making workplaces more democratic and more responsive to the needs of the people who actually carried out work on the job site. He had a profound commitment to using his skills and knowledge for the benefit of working people, a task which he fulfilled to a remarkable degree, both in his research and in his teaching.”

 

Dr. Colin Gleeson conducting research for his ACW Green Transitions in the Built Environment project.

 

Colin Gleeson originally worked in all types of construction ranging from housing to hospitals, offices and factories, which involved an eclectic mix of design, installation, consultancies and academia. He started in academia by teaching a women’s plumbing course and then guest lectured at the Hogeschool in Amsterdam and University College London. He presented his research to the European Commission, the European Social Fund, the European Construction Social Partners, the European Trade Union Institute, the British Council, as well as at low energy and vocational education conferences. Colin Gleeson completed his PhD at the University College London in 2014 and he had a BA in environmental engineering.

 

The details of Colin Gleeson’s funeral are as follows:

Friday, 5 April 2019, 2:00 PM
West Norwood Cemetery & Crematorium
and afterwards at The Rosendale pub, 65 Rosendale Rd, London SE21 8EZ

 

Wishes of the family:

Because of Colin’s passion for energy conservation we are asking people not to buy flowers. Instead if you would like to, please send donations to St Christopher’s Hospice, Sydenham, SE26 6DZ. Direct link: https://supportus.stchristophers.org.uk/donate/product/donate

 


The European Social Fund produced an interview with Colin Gleeson about his work in 2012, which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1So8KZHG8yM.

 

His work for ACW may be viewed on the website at http://www.adaptingcanadianwork.ca/tag/colin-gleeson/

Colin’s last two projects, in addition to the ACW work, were:

  • Analysis of data from heat pumps installed via the Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme (RHPP) to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) A major contract with research consortium from UCL, BSRIA, SP Technical Sweden for UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), 2014-2017.
  • EU Progress Fund:  European Retrofit Network: The European Retrofit Network provided a methodology for retrofitting social housing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with an analysis of their VET requirements for an EU-wide retrofitting industry. The Westminster package focused on retrofit interventions to quantify emissions savings for different housing typologies. The research entailed emissions reduction modeling and interviews with stakeholders, including social housing providers, architects, project managers and building contractors.

 

Deep Cleavages Amongst US Labour Unions with Respect to Climate Change, Finds Report

 

Labour Unions and Green Transitions in the USA: Contestations and Explanations
By Dimitris Stevis, Professor, Colorado State University

 

From the author:
“In broad terms there are now two camps amongst US labour unions with respect to climate change and renewables (the two not always related). On one side, are those unions that believe that something needs to be done about climate change and that renewables are a good strategy. On the other side are those that are opposed to meaningful climate policy –even as they claim that climate change is a problem.”

This report outlines the deep cleavages with respect to climate policy but also argues that the views of unions are more complex and contradictory than the opposition-support dichotomy. Additionally, it seeks to understand what explains the variability in union responses to climate change and policy. What can account for the contradictions evident amongst and within unions?

 

Download the Full Report (PDF)

 

ACW leads conference stream on climate change and labour

 

4-6 April 2017, Sheffield, UK

At the 35th International Labour Process Conference, held in Sheffield, UK, ACW ran a special stream titled “A Volatile Political Economy: Work, Climate Change and Labour: Labour Process Perspectives”. This was for the second year running, last year’s theme at the ILPC conference in Berlin being Labour, Work and Climate Change: a labour process perspective. The stream this year was led by Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé of York University, Toronto, Canada and Professor Linda Clarke of the University of Westminster, UK, together with Donald Lafleur, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress and Dr. Elaine Bernard, Director of Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, US.

The stream addressed the problematic issue that, though work, worksites and production supply chains are major polluters, the new retreat into defensive nationalism adds to the difficulties of combatting at an international level the global danger we confront. It is vital to re-connect work and political economy, so that the transition to a low carbon economy becomes an international driver for transforming the labour process to the benefit of workers. Bringing workers and unions and work itself ‘in’ to the struggle to slow global warming entails rethinking the labour process through a green lens, and adapting key steps in the chain of production to mitigate greenhouse gases. It entails reconsidering the legal, political and economic contexts that hinder or facilitate workplace low-carbon adaptation, bringing labour and environment law together, criticising work design and current business models for their carbon excesses, and rediscovering the influential roles that workers, their unions and professional associations can play in adapting and improving the labour process. And, finally, it means understanding the ways in which political economies and responses to climate change affect not only the labour process, but union goals, alliances, modes of action, organisation of young workers, political strength and strategic creativity.

Within this framework, papers were presented in four separate sessions over two days by ACW researchers, academics from universities in the UK and further afield, and those from trade union organisations.

The contributions within each themed session included:

Just Transition
• Slow Greening: Climate Literacy and the Labour Movement: Carla Lipsig-Mummé, York University, Canada
• Just Transition in a Neoliberal Context: the contradictions of labour-market policy in post-petro-state Canada: Donald Lafleur and Chris Roberts, Canadian Labour Congress
• Contesting Just Transition: a sufficient challenge to capitalist labour processes? (Ewan Kerr, University of Glasgow)

Energy Provision
• Romance or Chimaera? Industry Policy and Job Quality in European Offshore Wind Turbine Manufacturing: Lisa Shulte, Middlesex University, UK
• Decarbonising the Electricity Grid: the implications for organised labour: Colin Patrick Gleeson, University of Westminster, UK

VET for low energy construction
• Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: evaluating one union’s efforts to overcome barriers to low carbon construction: John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, Canada
• The Role of Labour and VET in meeting Low Energy Construction Targets, Linda Clarke and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen, University of Westminster

Green Employment
• More and Better Jobs in a Low Carbon Future: provocations and possibilities: Steven Shelley, University of Hertfordshire, UK
• Gamification as Employment Strategy for Greening the Labour Process: Dean Stroud and Claire Evans, Cardiff University, UK
• The Role of Trade Unions in the Transformation towards a Low Carbon Economy: Bela Galgoczi, European Trade Union Institute, Belgium

Lively discussions followed the presentations, highlighting the significance of agency and vision in influencing the nature of the response to climate change and the critical necessity of bringing a labour perspective to bear on green transition approaches and policies by government and non-government organisations and agencies. Presentations were also informative about regional green transition initiatives involving trade unions, with discussions focusing particularly on British Columbia, Canada, the Ruhr region in Germany and Yorkshire and Humberside in the UK. Insights into the practical implementation, consequences and implications of green transitions were given in discussions about work and employment conditions in wind turbine manufacturing, training and skill needs in construction, and energy efficiency regulations in energy-intensive industries.

On the third day, the stream concluded with a panel discussion on ‘Green labour in dark times’, facilitated by responses to an imaginary scenario from 2035, when two major forces co-exist, digitalisation and climate change: can they combine or are they on a collision course? With examples of green transition initiatives from across a number of countries and regions, the possibility and need to allow for different green transitions pathways also came to the fore in the final debate. Above all, the fundamental role trade unions play in representing the interests of labour in what is a hugely complex, uneven and long transition to a green economy was reinforced.

It is intended that some of the contributions given at Sheffield and at last year’s Berlin conference will, together with contributions from ACW and other international researchers be included in two books and a special journal.

Linda Clarke, Carla Lipsig-Mummé and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen
June 2017

ACW Baseline Subreport – Policies and Practices to Promote Work Enhancing Pathways in the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy

By Fred Steward

Professor, Policy Studies Institute
University of Westminster, London

This draft review gives an overview of the European policy context with regard to climate change. It identifies a new pervasive political discourse on the transition to a low carbon society which places a major issue of environmental sustainability high on the policy agenda. This is also associated with greater attention to policies on industry and innovation which overlap conventional trade union concerns. The transition policy framing highlights the need for active policy influence on transformative change.

An analysis is presented of the views of the principal Europe-wide trade union organization, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on this new policy context for environmental sustainability and climate change. This is based on publicly available documentary sources along with reports on a selection of European national trade union confederation initiatives and recent developments in trade union/labour movement policy by European policy institutions and analysts.

The focus of this review is to identify new policies and practices which engage with the ‘transition to a green, low-carbon economy’ from the perspective of proactive initiatives to promote work-enhancing pathways. The aim is to assess recent policy reviews and proposals in order to map out a new work-enhancing green economy transition agenda. This could form the basis for subsequent action-oriented research strands with particular policy players.

Particular aspects of interest are:

  • Engagement with the new framework of sociotechnical transitions in contrast to the established frameworks of ecological modernization or market based instruments. This embraces purposive transformative goals, a mix of social and technological innovation, and a key role for a diverse coalition of societal actors Recognition of the possibility of alternative transition pathways and that choices between them may have different implications for job creation, employment and working conditions, and skill development arising from contrasting emphases on technological production and social use, singular new products/processes versus wider system innovation, one-off skills or long term vocational change
  • Action at multiple levels of governance, not just at the national or sectoral level. Of particular interest is the role of new developments in policy and practice involving partnership with cities, local authorities and regions
  • Interventions, which are not simply reactive in terms of justice or job protection, but proactively intervene to shape the nature of the green transition, and promote an awareness of the potential role of trade unions as environmental actors or innovators
Download the full report (PDF)

 

 

ACW Baseline Subreport – Labor Unions and Green Transitions in the U.S.

By Dimitris Stevis

Professor, Department of Political Science
Colorado State University, U.S.

 

This draft baseline report provides an exploratory overview of US labor union proposals and practices regarding a green transition. It focuses, primarily, on national level unions and it does not examine proposals from other organizations. The role of labor unions at the state and local levels as well as a more systematic review of non-union proposals that explicitly address work and workers will be covered in the amplified report. My goal is not to speculate whether a green transition of some kind will take place in the US or whether workers will benefit from such a transition. Rather, one goal is to explore whether workers and unions are striving to be the agents and authors of such a green transition and what political dynamics may prevent or enable them to do so. A second goal is to explore how inclusive or exclusive the green transitions envisioned by unions may be.

The first part of this report clarifies the analytical approach that is employed and, in particular, the interface of sociotechnical transitions, politics, social power and institutions. The second part provides an overview of union strategies by sector or industry. I close with some comments about green transitions that set the agenda for additional research.

 

Download the full report (PDF)

 

SSHRC awards more than $2.5 million in funding to York-led research partnerships

Carla Lipsig-Mummé, professor of work and labour studies in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, has received more than $2.5 million over seven years through the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Grants program.

Lipsig-Mummé will lead a project titled “Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective”, which investigates how best Canada’s diverse workplaces can adapt work in order to mitigate greenhouse gases. The project will also examine the changes needed in law and policy, work design and business models for industry and services, to assist the “greening” of workplaces and work. Among the goals of the project, Lipsig-Mummé and her research team hope to develop work-based strategies to reduce greenhouse gases and energy use and integrate international and national best practices into Canadian work. Training for highly qualified work-based environmental change experts is also planned.

“It goes without saying that slowing global warming is a huge issue,” says Lipsig-Mummé. “The world of work has been neglected terrain in responding to climate change, but the structures of work, of modern business organizations, and of unions make it easier, not harder, to adapt work in order to mitigate greenhouse gases. After all, work creates the majority of GHGs produced by human activity in developed countries like Canada.”

The national project, which will also receive more than $2.2 million in matching funding and contributions from partnering organizations, includes 38 individual members and 19 partners in four countries. The team’s partners are labour unions and business organizations, government and public sector organizations, think tanks, universities and environmental groups. Team expertise spans natural and applied sciences, engineering, management, law, environmental studies, social sciences and organizational leadership.

“We are delighted by the results of the recent SSHRC competitions, reflecting York’s leadership in large-scale collaborative research projects,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research and innovation. “Professor Lipsig-Mummé is conducting important research with partners in government, academia and public sector organizations to help workplaces in Canada address important issues of climate change and develop work-based strategies to reduce greenhouse gases and energy use.

Two York researchers also received $313,396 in funding under the Partnership Development Grants Program, which provides support to foster new research and related activities with new or existing partners; and to design and test new partnership approaches for research and/or related activities.

“York University is committed to supporting the growth and development of initiatives to enable the recognition of the University as a Canadian leader in sustainability research,” added Haché.

The announcement was made earlier today by the Honourable Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder. In total, $44 million is being awarded to support funding for 57 new Partnership Development Grants and 14 Partnership Grants.

For a complete list of Partnership Grant and Partnership Development Grant awards, visit the SSHRC website.

Arielle Zomer, Research Communications, York University, 416-736-2100 ext. 21069, azomer@yorku.ca