Beyond Collective Bargaining: Modern Unions as Agents of Social Solidarity

Gillian Lester

in The Idea of Labour Law

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693610
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729744 | DOI:
Beyond Collective Bargaining: Modern Unions as Agents of Social Solidarity

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Trade unions in both North American and Europe have long embraced—at least rhetorically, but often manifestly—participation in the civic and political spheres as part of their mission. In recent years, however, unions—especially in America—have come to be seen by many, rightly or wrongly, as pursuing their own ‘special interests’. Unions possess the technology of social mobilization, but have often (and not unreasonably) focused their resources on grassroots organizing and local bargaining strategies. At a time when unions are seeking levers for revitalization, a promising path is for them to use their mobilization skills to galvanize public sentiment around issues of universal concern. In particular, the need for a reliable social safety net to buffer economic insecurity may serve as common ground within which solidarity can take root. Exploiting unions’ capacity to facilitate social cohesion in the general society could spark a renewed sense of the mission and vitality of unions.

Keywords: social solidarity; social cohesion; trade unions; union revitalization; social safety net

Chapter.  7923 words. 

Subjects: Employment and Labour Law

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