Unions at the Crossroads: Strategic Membership, Financial, and Political Perspectives

By Marick F. Masters | Go to book overview

Chapter 12
Strategies for Union Growth

At the crossroads, organized labor faces a series of strategic and tactical decisions on how to reverse its seemingly unstoppable shrinkage in the workforce and set itself on a steady upward path. John Sweeney, upon assuming the AFL-CIO's helm, has energized the federation with a flurry of new activity. Grassroots mobilization is the wind behind the invigorated union sail, copied much after the civil rights movement of the turbulent 1960s. The federation has launched a "Union Summer" campaign to enlist supporters on the nation's college campuses, created a better-financed Organizing Department, stepped up political action, and, at the same time, pushed its affiliate unions to follow suit. The AFL-CIO's highly publicized $35 million campaign to reelect Clinton-Gore and a Democratic U.S. Congress in 1996 underscores organized labor's new-found brass-tacks approach. The unprecedented multimillion-dollar plan, which aroused considerable ire among Republican leaders, evidently produced some successful results, as eighteen of the forty-five principal GOP targets were defeated.

Altogether, these and various other recent developments undertaken by individual unions represent a departure from the traditional "parachute in," reactive approach, in which labor responded to events by assigning paid representatives to orchestrate whatever worker support that might exist in local settings. A strategic question facing labor, however, is whether this bolder approach will work better or, more critically, well enough to reverse the downward trend in membership density. This issue raises the

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Unions at the Crossroads: Strategic Membership, Financial, and Political Perspectives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 18
  • Chapter One - Strategic Perspectives on Union Resources: Human, Financial, and Political Capital 21
  • Notes 40
  • Chapter 2 Union Density and Membership 43
  • Notes 60
  • Chapter 3 Major Union Membership Trends 63
  • Notes 71
  • Chapter 4 The Financial Capital of Unions 73
  • Notes 87
  • Chapter 5 How Unions Raise and Spend Money 89
  • Notes 106
  • Chapter 6 The Financial Performance of Unions 107
  • Notes 115
  • Chapter 7 Union Political Capital and the Legal Enactment Strategy 117
  • Notes 131
  • Chapter 8 Union Profiles 133
  • Chapter 9 Baseline Union Budgets: Implications for Representational Services and Bargaining Clout 141
  • Notes 155
  • Chapter 10 Strategic Union Resource Allocations 157
  • Notes 171
  • Chapter 11 Union Growth Scenarios and Mergers 173
  • Notes 183
  • Chapter 12 Strategies for Union Growth 185
  • Notes 201
  • Chapter 13 The Future of U.S. Unions 203
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 231
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