Training to empower: A decade of the Retail Action Project

Source: Peter Ikeler, Giovanna Fullin, Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 21 no. 2, June 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Founded by a union in 2005, the Retail Action Project (RAP) has led multiple campaigns for workers’ rights, back wages and unionization in the heart of Manhattan’s retail district. It has also undertaken worker training and hiring efforts while cultivating a community of creative worker‐members. This combination of organizing, community building and attempted re‐skilling, along with its industrial rather than ethnic focus and operation within a leading center of postindustrial capitalism, make RAP unique among U.S. worker centers and potentially prefigurative of revitalized unionism. Our study examines the organization’s 12‐year history and draws out lessons for organizing young workers in an increasingly precarious economy. Although RAP has tried to both materially empower and socialize young workers to the labor movement, we find it has been more successful at the latter than the former and that its lessons may find application in other retail‐dense urban centers within and outside the United States.