Category Archives: Organizing

Fishing in Different Ponds: Union Organizing Across Industries

Source: Timothy D. Chandler and Rafael Gely, Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 10 no. 2, June 2007
(subscription required)

A major complaint of the Change to Win Coalition (“Coalition”) is the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations’ failure to “follow the work” and allocate sufficient resources to organizing, particularly in industries experiencing job growth. Our article uses industry-level data from National Labor Relations Board-supervised elections from 1970 to 2000 to evaluate the validity of this criticism. We find support for the Coalition’s claim. Most industrial groups faired better than manufacturing in election outcomes. Yet union organizing activity was lower in other industries. Moreover, declining organizing activity within manufacturing suggests that other industries, most notably services, account for an even greater share of new entrants into the labor movement.

Social Isolation and American Workers: Employee Blogging and Legal Reform

Source: Rafael Gely and Leonard Bierman, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 20 no. 2, Spring 2007

Times have changed. Americans, and particularly American workers, live in a much more socially isolated world than they did in the past. Union halls and employee group bowling are rare these days. In some respects, the Internet and today’s “virtual world” have contributed to these developments. For example, when employees are telecommuting or working “virtually” off-site, developing a strong sense of community with their colleagues is far more difficult. But while the Internet may be part of the problem, it also has the potential to be part of the solution.

Just Jobs? Organizing for Economic Justice

Source: Race Poverty and the Environment: A Journal for Social and Environmental Justice, Vol. 14 no. 1, Spring 2007

One doesn’t have to possess an advanced degree in economics to see that there is something definitively out of alignment when it comes to job creation in the United States. Multinational corporations with no national, much less local, allegiances are given billions of dollars in tax subsidies in a shell game, which moves an ever-shrinking number of manufacturing jobs from city to suburbs, and state to state. Big box retail stores are destroying locally owned small businesses in shopping districts across the country, and the largest employment growth is taking place in low-paying service sector jobs. Real wages are stagnant and fundamentals, such as overtime pay, health insurance, retirement benefits, job security, even regular paid vacation, are swirling away at hurricane speeds.

Articles include:

Economy in Crisis
· The Fight for Quality Jobs: Our Battle Against Neoliberalism
· The Great Corporate Job Scam: Money for Nothing
· The Economic Crisis Ahead
· Fastest Growing Jobs of ’06: Are You Handy with Bedpans and Brooms?
· Are Bad Jobs Good for Poor People? The Wal-Mart Question
· Healthy Jobs for All: What Will It Take?

Economy in Transformation
· Rising from Below: Immigrant Workers Open New Organizing Fronts
· Blacks and Immigrants: More Allies Than Adversaries
· The Poor People’s Campaign: Non-Violent Insurrection for Economic Justice
· Black and Brown: The United Colors of Low-Wage Workers
· Flint
· Paving the Road Out of Poverty

Economic Impacts
· Rooted in Slavery: Prison Labor Exploitation
· Toxic Sentence: Captive Labor and Electronic Waste
· Racism in United States Welfare Policy
· From Welfare to Low-Wage Work
· Home Is Where the Work Is: The Color of Domestic Labor

Organizing
· Worker Centers
· The Workplace Project
· No Justice, No Growth: How L.A. Makes Developers Create Decent Jobs
· Sweatshops on Wheels: Union-Community Coalition Takes Aim at Port Trucking
· Sewing Alliances: Anti-Sweatshop Activism in the United States
· Growing Local Food into Quality Green Jobs in Agriculture

Case Studies
· Health Industry Jobs Help Build Healthy Economy
· Green Jobs Corps in Oakland
· Painting Boston Schools for a Fair Wage
· Quality Work Through Self-Employment
· One Million Good Jobs
· Work Work Work

Labor Organizing Among Mexican-born Workers in the United States: Recent Trends and Future Prospects

Source: Ruth Milkman, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 32 no. 1, March 2007
(subscription required)

This article surveys unionization patterns and other workplace-oriented organizing among Mexican-born workers since the mid-1990s. Although the number of Mexican-born union members grew during that decade, the unionized proportion declined, especially among noncitizens. The decline reflects the large proportion of new immigrants in the Mexican-born population and the increased geographic dispersion of immigration in recent years away from highly unionized states such as Illinois and California. Another factor is that recent Mexican immigrants are underrepresented in the most unionized sectors (such as government employment). However, unions, especially in California, have effectively mobilized Mexican immigrants into electoral politics in the 1990s, and new community-based organizations with a focus on economic justice have also recruited low-wage Mexican immigrant workers in occupations such as day labor and domestic service, in which conventional unionism is rare.

Building A Movement For Health Care: Key To Organizing The Unorganized?

Source: Wayne Nealis, WorkingUSA, Volume 9, Issue 1, March 2006
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
History shows that labor union membership increased rapidly in the United States in the last century only during periods when broad movements for social justice also existed. One of these movements was the fight for basic social benefits during the Great Depression; the other was the struggle to secure democratic rights and dignity for African-Americans during the Civil Rights movement. This article presents an argument as to why labor should join in leading an offensive for single-payer national health insurance (NHI), not only to win health care for all, but to help jump start a broader social and economic justice movement that could create a socio-political climate that is more conducive to organizing the unorganized.