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Wells Donald, Professor Emeritus

photo of Donald Wells

Donald Wells

Professor Emeritus

Emeritus Faculty
Department of Political Science

Institute on Globalization & the Human Condition

Emeritus Faculty
School of Labour Studies

Area(s) of Interest:


Areas of Research Interest

  • International labour rights and standards
  • Politics of social movements
  • Labour internationalism
  • Transnational labour migration
  • Global economic restructuring
  • Poverty reduction
  • Living wage policies and impacts

Non-Governmental Organizations, Corporations, Unions and Social Movements

  • anti sweat shop and 'fair trade' campaigns
  • non-governmental organizations and labour regulation in the global South
  • corporate social responsibility
  • public-private partnerships and the regulation of labour rights and standards

Public Policy

  • family cohesion of foreign migrant workers
  • international organizations and the regulation of international labour standards
  • trade policy and the regulation of labour standards

Academic Service and Community Involvement

  • Former Director, School of Labour Studies, McMaster University
  • Steering Committee, McMaster Community Poverty Initiative (research, volunteer and educational organization linking McMaster University to local anti-poverty groups)
  • Steering Committee, Cantabal Education and Health Care Project (fundraising and building a middle school and health clinic in Guatemala)
  • Editorial Board, Just Labour: Canadian Journal of Work and Society
  • Academic Steering Committee, Study Abroad Program, Mexico Solidarity Network
  • Board, Immigrant Worker Family Centre (advocacy, research and drop-in centre for immigrant live-in caregivers)
  • Living Wage Working Group, Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction
  • McMaster University Indigenous Rights Group
  • Advisory Board, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (non governmental organization promoting international labour standards)
  • Committee of Instruction, Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, McMaster University
  • Advisory Board, United for Fair Trade-Unis pour commerce equitable (UFT-UCE) (fair trade NGO)


PhD, Political Science, University of Toronto

MA, Political Science, University of British Columbia

BA, Economics and History, Western University


Retired from Teaching

School of Labour Studies 

  • Labour and Globalization
  • Field Research
  • Economic Restructuring

Political Science Department

  • Comparative Political Parties and Social Movements
  • MA and PhD Theses

MA in Work and Society

  • Work and Democracy in the Global Society
  • MA Theses
  • Major Research Papers


Current Research Projects

  • public policy and family cohesion of migrant agricultural workers from Mexico and Jamaica in Southern Ontario
  • public policy and educational success of children of Filipino migrants to Canada
  • promotional politics and the new global order of labour

Selected Publications

(*denotes peer reviewed)

  • "Sustaining Precarious Transnational Families: The Significance of Remittances from Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program" (lead author with 3 others) Just Labour: Canadian Journal of Work and Society, Vol. 22, Autumn 2014, pp. 144-167.
  • The Worker Rights Consortium" in Darryl Reed, Peter Utting, and Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, eds. Business, Regulation and Non-State Actors London: Routledge, 2012, pp. 239-252.
  • "Local Worker Struggles in the Global South: Reconsidering Northern Impacts on International Labour Standards" in Marcus Taylor ed. Renewing International Labour Studies, Routledge, 2010. (ISBN 978-0-415-59385-4).
  • "Local Worker Struggles in the Global South: Reconsidering Northern Impacts on International Labour Standards" Third World Quarterly 30:30, April 2009, pp. 567-579.
  • * "Workplace Cohesion and the Fragmentation of Solidarity" (with Wayne Lewchuk) in Robert O’Brien ed. Solidarity First: Canadian Workers and Social Cohesion Vancouver; UBC Press ), 2008, pp. 63-85.
  • * "Transforming Worker Representation: The Magna Model in Canada and Mexico" (with Wayne Lewchuk) Labour/ Le Travail 60 (Fall 2007) 107-136.
  • * "Bringing the Local Back In: Trajectory of Contention of the Union Struggle at Kukdong/Mexmode" (with Graham Knight), Social Movement Studies 6:1, 83-103 (2007).
  • * "Too Weak for the Job: Corporate Codes of Conduct, Non-Governmental Organizations and the Regulation of International Labour Standards" Global Social Policy 2007, 7:1, 51-73.
  • * "When Corporations Substitute for Adversarial Unions", (with Wayne Lewchuk), Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, 61:4, Autumn 2006, 639-665.
  • * " 'Best Practice' in the Regulation of International Labor Standards: Lessons of the U.S.-Cambodia Textile Agreement" . Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3, p. 357, 2006 Available at SSRN:
  • * "How Credible are International Corporate Labour Codes? Monitoring Global Production Chains" in Jim Stanford and Leah Vosko,eds., Challenging the Market: The Struggle to Regulate Work and Income, McGill Queen’s University Press, 2004, pp. 365-383
  • * :"How Ethical are Ethical Purchasing Policies?" Journal of Business Ethics Special Issue: Universities and Corporate Responsibility, 2004, 2:1,119-140.
  • * "Are Labour Unions Obsolete in the New Global Economy?" Inroads 13, summer 2003, pp. 46-53.
  • * "Labour Markets, Flexible Specialization and the New Microcorporatism", Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, Fall 2001, 56: 2, pp. 277-304.
  • * "Building Transnational Coordinative Unionism" in S. Babson and H. Juarez Nunez eds., Working Lean: Labor in the North American Auto Industry, Wayne State University Press, 1998.
  • * "From Fordist Worker Resistance to Post-Fordist Capitalist Hegemony?" Labour/Le Travail (Spring 1997, pp. 241-260).
  • * "When Push Comes to Shove: Competitiveness, Job Insecurity and Labour Management Cooperation in Canada," Economic and Industrial Democracy, Spring 1997, 18:2, pp. 167-200.
  • * "New Dimensions for Labour in a Post-Fordist World" in E. Yanarella and W. Green eds., North American Auto Unions in Crisis: Lean Production as Contested Terrain, (State University of New York Press, 1996, pp. 191-207).
  • * "The Impact of the Postwar Compromise on Canadian Unionism: The Formation of an Auto Worker Local in the 1950's," Labour/Le Travail, Fall 1995.
  • * "Origins of Canada's Wagner Model of Industrial Relations: The United Auto Workers in Canada and the Suppression of 'Rank and File' Unionism, 1936-1953," Canadian Journal of Sociology, 20:2, June 1995, pp. 193-225.