Derek is a recent graduate of the MES Planning program at York University. He completed an undergraduate degree in History at the University of Toronto in 2010, which, focused primarily on social movements in North American cities. He became interested in planning following an undergraduate independent study that dealt with activism and urban politics in 1980s Chicago.
Exploring these issues led to a broader interest in municipal affairs, particularly with regards to social inequality and land-use conflict. Derek conducted fieldwork at the Pratt Center for Community Development in New York in the summer of 2012, which led to his major paper focus on jobs-based advocacy surrounding urban development. Derek also worked as a research assistant under the direction Roger Keil as part of the York CITY Institute’s Global Suburbanisms Major Collaborative Research Project. Currently, Derek is pursuing a career in municipal planning, and remains engaged with social justice issues related to employment, transportation, and housing.
The following provides insight on Derek’s major research paper, which he presented at the CITY Suburban Revolution Conference on September 28th 2013:
Land as Strategy: Urban Development and Labour-Community Advocacy in Toronto and Los Angeles
In Toronto and Los Angeles, labour-community advocacy has been significant to securing employment-based benefits from new developments and demonstrating the employment potential of specific urban areas. Groups involved in this work reflect a type of union involvement focused on broader community issues and local organizing. Largely since the 1980s, labour-community campaigns in both cities have addressed land-use issues that focus on job creation, industrial retention, and securing a living-wage for local residents. In Los Angeles, high-profile labour victories like the Bus Riders Union, Alameda Corridor Jobs Coalition, and various community benefits agreements (CBAs) have achieved gains for low-income communities, particularly with regards to living-wage employment.
While much less prominent in Toronto, this type of advocacy has been successful in addressing broader issues of poverty and economic diversity, most recently in discussions of employment land conversions. Derek’s paper addresses the ongoing role of labour-community organizing in both cities, particularly conflict over retaining employment areas and securing employment-based community benefits from new developments. This paper also explores labour-community advocacy in the context of local (municipal) and regional (provincial/state) governance. As a comparative study, the goal of this research is to contextualize the current landscape of advocacy around jobs-based community benefits in both cities, particularly as they reflect the changing role of labour in an urban context.