Category Archives: Organizing

The Employee Free Choice Act

Source: Political Economy Research Institute, April 2009

High unemployment rates, rising wage inequality and declining living standards for working families all result, in part, from dramatic losses in bargaining power for workers over recent decades. The Employee Free Choice Act, which will protect and expand workers’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively, is a potentially powerful tool to reverse this trend, and faces likely legislative action in the coming months. With this in mind, PERI has added an EFCA resources page to our website, where we will post research, media coverage, and other useful information.

The PERI Employee Free Choice Act Resource page also hosts a statement of support for the act by economists and other social scientists. Hundreds of scholars have already signed on to show their support for this critical legislative item.

Commentary: Who Will Organize 2.5 Million Nurses In The U.S.?

Source: Herman Benson, WorkingUSA, Vol. 12 no. 1, March 2009
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Two million five hundred thousand registered nurses are employed in the U.S., mostly in hospitals. By 2016, we will need 500,000 more. Now that nurses are in demand and the nation faces a shortage, they are able to make a decent living. In some cities, with overtime and salary levels protected by unions, they can make lots of money. Still, the job is tough.

Nurses need union representation. At first glance, there seems to be a bewildering assortment of claimants to provide that representation: state affiliates of the American Nurses Association (ANA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United American Nurses (UAN), American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Communication Workers of America, American Federation of Teachers, California Nurses Association (CNA), American Federation of Government Employees. Even the International Union of Operating Engineers, a heavy-equipment construction union, enrolls its share of registered nurses, over 3,000. The Steelworkers, United Food Workers, Teamsters, and Laborers all have a piece of the action.

And so, as everyone wants to get into the act, nurse unionism might seem scattered and in disarray. But that appearance minimizes the actual power of contemporary nurses’ unionism and its potential influence in the broader labor movement.

Community Benefits Agreements: Lessons From New Haven

Source: Louise Simmons, Stephanie Luce, WorkingUSA, Vol. 12 no. 1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) are a new tool for labor-community coalitions, designed to ensure that economic development projects benefits workers and residents. In 2006, a labor-community coalition in New Haven, Connecticut won a CBA with Yale-New Haven Hospital after a two-year campaign, and much longer campaign to unionize hospital workers. The CBA included provisions for affordable housing, job training, local hiring, access to healthcare, environmental and planning protections, and a commitment to union-organizing rights. This article analyzes the campaign for the CBA and examines some outcomes, including its implementation. The CBA campaign was successful in building labor-community alliances and political power, and had resulted in some concrete gains for residents. However, the Hospital has blatantly violated the union-organizing rights part of the agreement, highlighting some of the limits of the CBA strategy in the face of a hostile employer.

Building Regional Capacity: The New Alliance Process In Pennsylvania

Source: Sean Flaherty, WorkingUSA, Vol. 12 no. 1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article offers a summary of events and circumstances surrounding the implementation of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations’ New Alliance program in Pennsylvania. Focusing on the challenges involved in establishing and operating the state’s five new Area Labor Federations (ALFs), the article documents the emerging success of Pennsylvania’s ALFs in building the capacity for and strategically minded use of local and regional power by and for the statewide labor movement’s affiliates and their allies.

Building Labor’s Power In California: Raising Standards And Expanding Capacity Among Central Labor Councils, The State Labor Federation, And Union Affiliates

Source: Jeff Grabelsky, WorkingUSA, Vol.12 no.1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Union leaders in California have been engaged in an ongoing strategic planning process to build labor’s power in the nation’s largest state. This effort is being driven by a leadership committee of the California Labor Federation, which was established in 2004, after unions lost a strategically important ballot initiative by less than 1 percent of the votes cast. What began as a critical analysis of that political setback has since evolved into a systematic effort to identify and overcome weaknesses in the state’s labor movement, to develop a common and coherent program for organized labor, to articulate standards and benchmarks to guide power building in California, and to encourage greater unity of purpose among various labor organizations across the state. The experience of California’s unions provides an important model that other state labor movements should study and replicate wherever possible.

Starting On The Road To Regional Power: Community Labor United And The Greater Boston Labor Council

Source: Monica Bielski Boris, WorkingUSA, Vol. 12 no. 1, March 2009
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From the abstract:
This article examines Community Labor United (CLU), a nonprofit in Boston, Massachusetts that builds a bridge between labor unions and community organizations. Using interviews with key participants, CLU’s formation, structure and strategies are revealed. In 2004 the Greater Boston Labor Council, with the help of the national AFL-CIO, launched CLU. The essay demonstrates how the new non-profit organization provides an anchor for ongoing work to build the kinds of alliances between labor and community groups that establish real power for working people in the greater Boston region. To build this power CLU engages in strategic research, leadership development and community organizing. This paper examines how labor and community leaders in Boston have set out on the road for building regional power.

Employee Free Choice Act: Fight of a Lifetime?

Source: Jane Slaughter, Labor Notes, March 2009

Nobody wants to say it on the record, but the buzz is we won’t get the Employee Free Choice Act in its current form. It’s possible to admire labor’s efforts for two million petition signatures for EFCA and still ask, if this is the fight of a lifetime, why aren’t we acting like it? Could the energy unions channeled for Obama last fall be reawakened for creative actions in 2009?

Dropping the Ax: Illegal Firings During Union Election Campaigns, 1951-2007

Source: John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer, Center for Economic and Policy Research, March 2009

From the summary:
This report updates an earlier report from January of 2007, which found a steep rise in illegal firings of pro-union workers in the 2000s relative to the last half of the 1990s. It updates the index of the probability that a pro-union worker will be fired in the course of a union election campaign, using published data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It also takes into consideration the increase in card-check organizing campaigns that began in the mid-1990s and adjusts the index for this factor.

Urban labour, voice and legitimacy: economic development and the emergence of community unionism

Source: Graham Symon, Jonathan Crawshaw, Industrial Relations Journal, Vol. 40 no. 2, published online February 20, 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Community unionism has emerged in the past decade as a growing strand of industrial relations research and is influencing trade union strategies for renewal. This article seeks to further develop the concept, while exploring the potential roles for unions in communities subject to projects of urban regeneration.

A Contract Campaign Across Unions

Source: Doug Swanson, Labor Notes, February 20, 2009

As Wisconsin faces a nearly $6 billion budget deficit, state employee unions are determined to make sure the crisis isn’t “solved” on our backs. All union contracts with the state will expire June 30. As we strategize, we’re remembering our successful campaign–“A Deal’s a Deal”–from 2003.