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Full-Text Articles in Social and Behavioral Sciences

A War Against Organizing, Kate Bronfenbrenner Apr 2012

A War Against Organizing, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] Unless Congress passes serious labor law reform with real penalties, only a small fraction of the workers who seek union representation will succeed. If recent trends continue, there will no longer be a functioning legal mechanism to effectively protect the right of private-sector workers to organize and collectively bargain. Our country cannot afford to make workers defer their rights and aspirations for union representation any longer.


Organizing For Keeps: Building A Twenty-First Century Labor Movement, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

Organizing For Keeps: Building A Twenty-First Century Labor Movement, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] In the last several years a great deal of discussion has taken place both inside and outside the labor movement about the need for American unions to organize massive numbers of unorganized workers. Who exactly this target workforce should be, ranging from low-wage contingent workers in home care, janitorial, or food service occupations, to the legions of unorganized clerical workers in business services, to the expanding professional and technical workforce in our "high tech" economy; to both skilled and unskilled production workers in the light manufacturing plants which have sprouted up across the South and rural Midwest, remains a ...


Foreword To The Killing Of Karen Silkwood, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

Foreword To The Killing Of Karen Silkwood, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] The Killing of Karen Silkwood, therefore, is both a cautionary and inspirational tale. It reminds us of what we are up against and what it takes to win. But most of all it reminds us why each of us must stand with the whistle-blowers and the ordinary heroes that are among us, in the workplace, in government, and in our communities, and, if given the opportunity, become ordinary heroes ourselves. The risks are great, but the costs of not standing up and not speaking out are even greater.


What Do Workers Want: Reflections On The Implications Of The Freeman And Rogers Study, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

What Do Workers Want: Reflections On The Implications Of The Freeman And Rogers Study, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] Despite talk in the media and academia concerning worker attitudes about unions and workplace participation, there is precious little data to inform any of these discussions. Thus, research of the scope and scale of the Workplace Representation and Participation Study is of enormous value to the field of industrial relations because it provides important insights into worker attitudes about their jobs, rights, power, and future opportunities. Yet, because there is so little other data available to put Freeman and Rogers's research into context, it becomes all the more essential that we bring great care to our analysis of ...


Changing To Organize: Unions Know What Has To Be Done. Now They Have To Do It, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

Changing To Organize: Unions Know What Has To Be Done. Now They Have To Do It, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] Even leaving aside the unusual events of last year, it is clear that despite all the new initiatives and resources devoted to organizing and all the talk of “changing to organize,” American unions are at best standing still. They will need to organize millions, not hundreds of thousands, of workers each year if they are to reverse the tide and begin to regain their influence and power in American society. Why is this so difficult? Why has it taken so long for new organizing initiatives to bear significant fruit? After spending the past fourteen years conducting a series of ...


Reversing The Tide Of Organizing Decline: Lessons From The Us Experience, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

Reversing The Tide Of Organizing Decline: Lessons From The Us Experience, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

As increasing numbers of employers and governments in industrialized nations hasten to "Americanize" their economic policies, labor laws, and union-avoidance strategies, it has become critical for unions in other countries to learn what they can from the organizing experience of the US labor movement. Most research on factors contributing to US organizing decline has focused on the role played by factors external to the labor movement such as global competition, de-industrialization, changes in workforce demographics, new work systems, deregulation, aggressive employer opposition, and weak and poorly enforced labor laws. US unions, however, have greatly contributed to their own decline by ...


California Farmworkers’ Strikes Of 1933, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

California Farmworkers’ Strikes Of 1933, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] The spring of 1933 ushered in a wave of labor unrest unparalleled in the history of California agriculture. Starting in April with the Santa Clara pea harvest, strikes erupted throughout the summer and fall as each crop ripened for harvest. The strike wave culminated with the San Joaquin Valley strike, the largest and most important strike in the history of American agriculture. All told, more than 47,500 farmworkers participated in the 1933 strikes. Twenty-four of these strikes, involving approximately 37,500 workers, were under the leadership of the Communist-led Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union (CAWIU). In a ...


Imperial Valley, California, Farmworkers’ Strike Of 1934, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

Imperial Valley, California, Farmworkers’ Strike Of 1934, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] In early November 1933, organizers from the Communist-led Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union (CAWIU) returned to the Imperial Valley, where just four years before their first strike among California's agricultural workers had ended in a swift and inglorious defeat. Now they returned to the valley, fresh from their strike victories in the fall fruit harvest campaign, confident that the time was now ripe to bring unionization to the Imperial Valley lettuce fields. Conditions in the valley in November 1933 certainly appeared more conducive to the CAWIU's success. Wages for lettuce workers were as low as ten ...


Imperial Valley, California, Farmworkers’ Strike Of 1930, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

Imperial Valley, California, Farmworkers’ Strike Of 1930, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] On January 1, 1930, several hundred Mexican and Filipino lettuce workers in Brawley, California, walked off their jobs in a spontaneous protest against declining wages and intolerable working conditions. In less than a week they were joined by 5,000 other field workers, and the impromptu walkout of Imperial Valley lettuce workers turned into a serious strike, ushering in a decade of farmworker militancy that sent tremors throughout California's powerful agricultural establishment.


Vacaville, California, Tree Pruners’ Strike Of 1932, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

Vacaville, California, Tree Pruners’ Strike Of 1932, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] Two days after the November 1932 elections, newly elected California congressman Frank H. Buck provoked a massive tree pruners' strike when he announced a wage cut for pruners on his ranch from $1.40 for an eight-hour day to $1.25 for a nine-hour day. Buck, one the largest growers in the Vacaville fruit growing region, had raised wages to $1.40 during his congressional campaign, promising farmworkers even higher wages if he won the election. Running under the campaign slogan "Give Government Back to the People," Buck garnered nearly unanimous support from farmworkers in the Vacaville area. Within ...


California Pea Pickers’ Strike Of 1932, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

California Pea Pickers’ Strike Of 1932, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] Just before the start of the May 1932 harvest season, growers in the Half Moon Bay area of San Mateo, California, provoked a spontaneous strike among pea pickers when they reduced piece rates from seventy-five to fifty cents a pack. Although the workers were unorganized, the large pay cut represented the breaking point for families just coming out of the slow winter season. The previous year's rate of seventy-five cents a pack had not been enough to tide them over through the winter, especially given the four dollars a month rent they were required to pay the growers ...


Unions And The Contingent Work Force, Kate Bronfenbrenner Mar 2012

Unions And The Contingent Work Force, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] Unions seeking to organize the unorganized face increasing numbers of part-time, temporary and leased employees. These contingent workers now make up more than a quarter of the American work force. Of the new work force they are the least organized and perhaps the most difficult to organize. But they are also the group most in need of the protections, benefits and representation that a union can provide. There have always been some service industries such as hotel, health care and retail, that have maintained a large contingent work force because of long hours and fluctuating demand. Also there have ...


Introduction To Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory And The Revival Of American Labor, Kate Bronfenbrenner, Tom Juravich Mar 2012

Introduction To Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory And The Revival Of American Labor, Kate Bronfenbrenner, Tom Juravich

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] When the Ravenswood Aluminum Company locked out seventeen hundred workers on October 31, 1990, it hardly looked like a big opportunity for labor. In what had become standard operating procedure for employers during the 1980s, management broke off bargaining with the United Steelworkers of America, and then brought hundreds of replacement workers into a heavily fortified plant surrounded by barbed wire and security cameras. Injunctions prevented union members from doing little more than symbolic picketing, and the wheels of justice, as they had done for more than a decade, creaked ever so slowly. All the pieces were in place ...


Introduction To Global Unions: Challenging Transnational Capital Through Cross-Border Campaigns, Kate Bronfenbrenner Feb 2012

Introduction To Global Unions: Challenging Transnational Capital Through Cross-Border Campaigns, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] The chapters in this book make clear that unions have the capability to build the cross-border coalitions necessary to take on transnational corporations. The question is whether they are willing to make the fundamental ideological and cultural changes necessary to make this happen on a global scale. If they are, then maybe it will be five, not twenty years before Wal-Mart is no longer driving the global race to the bottom; before firms such as Exxon Mobil, Coca-Cola, Talisman, Caterpillar, and any number of large pharmaceutical companies will no longer be able to profess to be good corporate citizens ...


Conclusion To Global Unions: Challenging Transnational Capital Through Cross-Border Campaigns, Kate Bronfenbrenner Feb 2012

Conclusion To Global Unions: Challenging Transnational Capital Through Cross-Border Campaigns, Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner

[Excerpt] What the cases in this book show is that the world's unions have a greater potential than most realize to take on the most powerful corporations and win. These cases also show how difficult that can be. It requires enormous effort, creativity, and a willingness to take risks and reach across differences. But going from individual cases to something bigger requires something else as well. As difficult as times are for workers in the Global North, and as much as the wealth accumulated by global capital comes mostly from taking enormous profits at the expense of all workers ...