Peetz, David 1957-

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Peetz, David 1957-


Born 1957.


Office—Griffith University, Department of Employment Relations, Nathan Campus, 170 Kessels Rd., Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111, Australia. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, editor, economist, and educator. Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia, professor of economics. Presenter at conferences and academic meetings.


(Editor, with John Langmore) Wealth, Poverty, and Survival: Australia in the World, Allen & Unwin/Australian Labor Party (Boston, MA), 1983.

Unions in a Contrary World: The Future of the Australian Trade Union Movement, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Brave New Workplace: How Individual Contracts Are Changing Our Jobs, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Australia in Accord: An Evaluation of the Prices and Incomes Accord in the Hawke-Keating Years, edited by K. Wilson, J. Bradford, and M. Fitzpatrick, South Pacific Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2001; and TradeUnions and the Crisis of Democracy: Strategies and Perspectives, edited by G. Wood and M. Harcourt, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals and journals, including the Journal of Industrial Relations, Journal of Sociology, Journal of Australian Political Economy, Journal of Collective Negotiations in the Public Sector, Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society, Australian Bulletin of Labour, Economic and Labour Relations Review, Journal of Political Science, Griffith Review, HR Monthly, Courier Mail, Australian Higher Education Supplement, and the International Journal of Employment Studies.


Australian author and editor David Peetz is an economist and expert in Australian labor and workplace issues. He serves as a professor of economics at Griffith University in Nathan, Queensland, Australia. He teaches topics such as workplace industrial relations, employment relations, the organization of employment, and labor economics. His academic work and research cover numerous subjects in labor relations and economic policy, including collective bargaining, union membership and reform, wages policy, and employment relations in Asian countries, noted a biographer on the Griffith Business School Web site. In addition, Peetz studies general issues in public policy and in voting and electoral behavior.

Peetz is a frequent contributor to periodicals and professional journals, and has contributed chapters to a number of books on labor relations and union subjects. He has presented papers and given talks at conferences and meetings in Australia, New Zealand, France, and elsewhere. From 2005 to 2007, Peetz also wrote several articles on labor and employment for newspapers in Australia.

In Unions in a Contrary World: The Future of the Australian Trade Union Movement, Peetz explores the state of trade unions and organized labor in Australia. Peetz "focuses on one of the most dramatic changes in Australian institutions over the past two decades—the fall in union density from a little over fifty percent in the mid-1970s to around thirty percent by the mid-1990s," noted Gillian Whitehouse in the Australian Journal of Political Science. "Clearly, this is an issue worthy of detailed analysis—and this the book provides amply," Whitehouse remarked. "This well-written and thoroughly-sourced book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the nature and sources of changing patterns of membership of Australian unions," commented A.E. Crook, writing in the Australian Journal of Politics and History.

Peetz presents a heavily statistical analysis of "the factors that caused the decline in union membership in Australia over the past twenty years," commented Warwick Eather in Pacific Affairs. He looks carefully at elements such as the effects of institutional change, like alterations and evolutions of government and employer policies, on union membership. He delves into Australian laborers' relations with their unions and statistically assesses union reach, protection, propensity, responsiveness, satisfaction, and sympathy, Eather noted. Peetz is also greatly interested in the Australian Prices and Incomes Accord, and devotes a considerable amount of space to assessing its characteristics and effects. "Peetz's book is very thorough in its analysis of the micro and macro determinants of unionization in Australia and the reasons for union decline. The book's strength is that it engages with a diverse literature and utilizes a number of data sources to support some interesting hypotheses," commented Labour & Industry reviewer Donna Buttigieg. In the end, Peetz finds several factors at work in the decline of Australian unions: changes in the basic structure of the labor market, removal of state-mandated compulsory union membership; and union inability to effectively respond to these changes in the labor environment.

Crook concluded, "This is a very worthwhile book, full of useful first-order data, insights, and indeed wisdom." Peetz "has produced a compelling account of the factors responsible for declining union membership in Australia," commented Mark Wooden, writing in the Economic Record. Buttigieg remarked that the book is "a major contribution to the literature and should be of some usefulness to the union movement, policy makers and industrial relations academics." Wooden concluded that "Unions in a Contrary World makes an important and significant contribution to our understanding of the changing role of trade unions in Australian workplaces."

Brave New Workplace: How Individual Contracts Are Changing Our Jobs contains Peetz's assessment of the Australian government's attempts to move away from collective bargaining and into a world where individual contracts established with each employee are the norm. This move is being accomplished in large part by a hotly debated piece of legislation called WorkChoices. WorkChoices is a particularly controversial law in Australia, one which is hailed by government and industry but reviled by those who support unionization, collective bargaining, employment rights, and employment choice. This sentiment is well illustrated by a comment by Al Rainnie in Labour & Industry: "The serried ranks of grey humorless lawyers, bureaucrats and politicians who framed the WorkChoices legislation allowed themselves one small moment of conscious and vicious irony. The very name is a classic piece of Orwellian Newspeak—a main aim of the legislation is to destroy choice, where that choice involves union organisation and collective bargaining."

In this atmosphere, Peetz, who has long been a critic of the legislation, carefully analyzes the central meaning of WorkChoices and considers in depth what it will mean to labor and employment, and particularly to unions, in Australia. Peetz "does not specifically examine the new legislation, rather it examines the underpinning logic or ideology of the legislation, and the implications of this ideology for the workplace. In particular the book examines the individualisation of employment relations and the individualisation of society," commented Larissa Bamberry, writing in the Australian Journal of Social Issues. He looks at a variety of topics that are important to the issues, including the meaning and concept of individualization, the practical effects of individual versus collective bargaining, how individualized labor relations will benefit business and corporations, and how corporations work to undermine union effectiveness and divert worker interest and loyalty away from unions. He provides several suggestions for policy responses to the WorkChoices legislation, including establishing an "industrial relations system built upon international human rights models that promotes good faith collective bargaining," Bamberry reported; getting rid of nonunion collective agreements that are deleterious to workers' rights and benefits; and increasing the role of labor arbiters and independent umpires who respond to unfair labor practices and discrimination in the workplace.

"This is a valuable book," stated reviewer Anthony O'Donnell in Arena Magazine, continuing: "At a critical juncture in the evolution of our labor relations system, Peetz has made available a wealth of empirical and theoretical research accessible to a generalist audience." Peetz's "call for an organization (and indeed a politics) that empowers workers rather than leaders and officials is welcome," remarked Rainnie. "Equally welcome is Peetz's contribution to this vital debate."



Alternative Law Journal, October, 1999, Debi McLachlan, review of Unions in a Contrary World: The Future of the Australian Trade Union Movement, p. 258.

Arena Magazine, August 1, 2006, Anthony O'Donnell, review of Brave New Workplace: How Individual Contracts Are Changing Our Jobs, p. 54.

Australian Business Law Review, August, 1999, Judy Benson, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 327.

Australian Journal of Labour Law, August, 2000, Andrew Frazer, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 202.

Australian Journal of Political Science, July, 1999, Gillian Whitehouse, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 280.

Australian Journal of Politics and History, September, 1999, A.E. Crook, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 442.

Australian Journal of Social Issues, spring, 2006, Larissa Bamberry, review of Brave New Workplace, p. 372.

Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, fall, 2005, John Burgess, review of Brave New Workplace, p. 105.

Economic Record, December, 1999, Mark Wooden, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 437.

Journal of Australian Political Economy, June, 1999, Grant Michelson, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 139; June, 2006, Frank Stilwell, review of Brave New Workplace, p. 168.

Journal of Economic Literature, December, 1999, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 1796.

Journal of Sociology, November, 1999, Janis Bailey, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 384.

Labour & Industry, August, 2000, Donna Buttigieg, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 131; April 1, 2006, Al Rainnie, review of Brave New Workplace, p. 163.

Law Society Journal, July, 2007, Claudia Ganora, review of Brave New Workplace, p. 84.

Overland, spring, 2006, Peter Ewer, "Sad New Culture," review of Brave New Workplace, p. 88.

Pacific Affairs, summer, 2000, Warwick Eather, review of Unions in a Contrary World, p. 320.


Griffith Business School Web site, (March 27, 2008), curriculum vitae of David Peetz.