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
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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.

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