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July 02, 2002

Bottom-up Unionism at GE

LaborNotes has a good article on new union strategies, as exemplified today at General Electric by the IUE-CWA. Union organizing for too long followed a typical pattern. A union blitzed a workplace, tried to round up a majority for an election, faced a crushing anti-union campaign by the employer, lost an election, then waited a couple of years until another election attempt could be tried.
...Newer approaches, or rather a return to the original strategies of unions, is to build worker committees at companies and fight for members regardless of official wins at union election time on the assumption that by demonstrating gains for workers, that will build support over time.
...This is just one example of a strategy advocated by Joel Rodgers and Richard Freeman in a recent Nation article that they dub "open source unionism." It's too hip a name for an old concept in my book, but if it encourages more discussion of innovative organizing strategies, I'll live with it. Both pieces are worth reading to understand necessary strategies for labor survival.

Posted by Nathan at July 2, 2002 01:41 PM

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