Study may serve as cautionary tale for AFL-CIO, new allies

November 11, 2013

A new Dartmouth-led study suggests the AFL-CIO's plan to partner with progressive non-union groups may be easier said than done.

The AFL-CIO's campaign to align with nontraditional allies is intended to broaden the group's influence – the proportion of American belonging to a union fell to 11.3 percent last year, the lowest figure the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has ever recorded – but the study's findings underscore the difficulties the AFL-CIO will likely face when it has to share power and negotiate objectives with its new partners.

The study, published in the journal Mobilization, looks at two of the most significant coalition movements in the last half-century, both in Charleston, S.C. Researchers compared a successful dockworkers' protest campaign (2000-2001) with a much-ballyhooed but ultimately less-successful hospital workers' strike (1969). In both cases, the disgruntled workers turned to outside groups for help. The key difference, the authors conclude, is that the hospital employees became too reliant on their partners, while the dockworkers managed to stay in control.

"The AFL-CIO's new initiative holds the promise of building a broader and more inclusive political movement, but it will be no easy task," said Marc Dixon, associate professor of sociology at Dartmouth and the paper's first author. "This study shows that labor groups working in coalition campaigns need to be able to negotiate the steep power imbalances often involved if they want to see success."

Explore further: AFL-CIO head flexible on taxing high-value plans

Related Stories

AFL-CIO head flexible on taxing high-value plans

October 26, 2009

(AP) -- The head of the AFL-CIO said Monday he's willing to consider a tax on high-end health insurance plans to help pay for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, as long as middle-class workers aren't hurt.

Foxconn to widen scope of union elections

February 4, 2013

Taiwan-owned Foxconn Technology Group, a leading maker of Apple's iPhones and gadgets for other global brands, is widening the scope of union elections at its sprawling facilities in China.

High-tech industry big immigration bill winner

May 26, 2013

(AP)—More than any other group, the high-tech industry got big wins in an immigration bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, thanks to a concerted lobbying effort, an ideally positioned Senate ally and ...

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.