Rebuilding Labor: Organizing and Organizers in the New Union Movement

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"In order to recruit new members on a scale that would be required to significantly rebuild union power, unions must fundamentally alter their internal organizational practices. This means creating more organizer positions on the staff; developing programs to teach current members how to handle the tasks involved in resolving shop-floor grievances; and building programs that train members to participate fully in the work of external organizing. Such a reorientation entails redefining the very meaning of union membership from a relatively passive
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Overview

"In order to recruit new members on a scale that would be required to significantly rebuild union power, unions must fundamentally alter their internal organizational practices. This means creating more organizer positions on the staff; developing programs to teach current members how to handle the tasks involved in resolving shop-floor grievances; and building programs that train members to participate fully in the work of external organizing. Such a reorientation entails redefining the very meaning of union membership from a relatively passive stance toward one of continuous active engagement."—from the Introduction In Rebuilding Labor Ruth Milkman and Kim Voss bring together established researchers and a new generation of labor scholars to assess the current state of labor organizing and its relationship to union revitalization. Throughout this collection, the focus is on the formidable challenges unions face today and on how they may be overcome. Rebuilding Labor begins with a comprehensive overview of recent union organizing in the United States; goes on to present a series of richly detailed case studies of such topics as union leadership, organizer recruitment and retention, union democracy, and the dynamics of anti-unionism among rank-and-file workers; and concludes with a quantitative chapter on the relationship between union victories and establishment survival. This interdisciplinary collection of original scholarship on New Labor offers a window into an otherwise invisible emergent social movement.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"You've seen the numbers on union density and representation elections. You've heard the AFL-CIO mantra 'organize, organize, organize.' Behind the numbers is the behavior of real people: organizers, workers who want to unionize, and workers who do not. Rebuilding Labor: Organizing and Organizers in the New Union Movement tells their story in compelling terms. This is a powerful book about the reality of unionism in today's United States."—Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University and author of What Do Unions Do? and What Workers Want

"Theory and praxis are here united in a practical, yet methodologically sophisticated set of studies that probe the difficult terrain of twenty-first-century union organizing. Ruth Milkman and Kim Voss are among our most surefooted guides to this new frontier."—Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor of History, University of California at Santa Barbara and author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor

"With working people facing the worst crisis in generations and corporate power surging out of control, the union movement—now only 8 percent of the private sector workforce—can no longer afford strategies, structures, and cultures that are 75 years old. We need an historic transformation to involve workers and communities in forming unions in whole industries, whole corporations, and whole markets and regions—both in the U.S. and across borders."—Andrew L. Stern, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

"Rebuilding Labor breaks new ground in providing rich empirical material and careful analysis for understanding the dynamics of contemporary labor organizing. The book as a whole is a very persuasive demonstration of the crucial value of systematic empirical research for the labor movement."—Richard Flacks, University of California at Santa Barbara

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801442650
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Series: ILR Press Bks.
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Milkman is Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and Academic Director of CUNY's Murphy Labor Institute. She is the author of several books, including the prizewinning Gender at Work and L.A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement. She is the coauthor of Unfinished Business, editor of Organizing Immigrants, and coeditor of New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement, Rebuilding Labor, and Working for Justice, all from Cornell.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Changing to organize : a national assessment of union strategies 17
2 Union democracy and successful campaigns : the dynamics of staff authority and worker participation in an organizing union 62
3 Workers against unions : union organizing and anti-union countermobilizations 88
4 Overcoming legacies of business unionism : why grassroots organizing tactics succeed 114
5 "Justice for janitors," not "compensation for "custodians" : the political context and organizing in San Jose and Sacramento 133
6 Against the tide : projects and pathways of the new generation of union leaders, 1984-2001 150
7 Sticking it out or packing it in? : organizer retention in the new labor movement 195
8 "Outsiders" inside the labor movement : an examination of youth involvement in the 1996 union summer program 225
9 Unionism in California and the United States : using representation elections to evaluate its impact on business establishments 251
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