Social Unionism in Western New York: The Case of the Economic Development Group

Source: Charles J. Whalen, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 35 no. 4, December 2010
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From the abstract:
Labor-community engagement–often called social unionism–has a long history, but it and academic attention to it have been growing since 1980. This article examines one manifestation in western New York: the labor-led Economic Development Group (EDG), which emerged in the late 1990s as a way for that region’s union leaders to engage in economic development activities. The first section surveys the literature on labor–community engagement, with an emphasis on the U.S. experience at the metropolitan level. The next traces the EDG’s origins and early development. Then three sections examine the EDG’s major initiatives: in labor relations, regional energy, and workforce development, the latter of which includes a neighborhood revitalization component. Current challenges and opportunities are then identified, and lessons of the EDG’s experience are highlighted. A final section includes suggestions for future research. A number of EDG projects appear to be on the leading edge of innovation with respect to regional development; thus, the case of the EDG warrants the attention of academics and practitioners, including policy makers interested in improving the well-being of the nation’s working families.

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