Labor Activism in Local Politics: From CBAs to ‘CBAs’

Katherine Stone and Scott Cummings

in The Idea of Labour Law

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693610
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729744 | DOI:
Labor Activism in Local Politics: From CBAs to ‘CBAs’

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Activism by labor and community coalitions at the local level is redefining labor law in the United States. Despite a drastic decline in union density and power in the United States, labor and community alliances have emerged at the local level that seek to influence labor conditions outside of the traditional collective bargaining framework. Unions and their community allies in some cities have had success in securing living wages, job training, local hiring preferences, workplace safety protections, health insurance benefits, and even job security for local workers. These achievements have been built on a new legal foundation: local government law. Labor-community alliances have leveraged different facets of local government power — contracting, land use, and general regulatory power — to achieve labor objectives through local ordinances and negotiated community benefit agreements. This chapter describes some of the ways in which these new labor-community alliances have exercised power at the local level. It pays particular attention to Los Angeles where local labor activism has achieved a series of remarkable successes through the robust use of local governmental levers. The chapter then addresses the question of whether, and to what extent, local labor initiatives can provide an adequate substitute for, or enhancement of, labor power at the national level.

Keywords: labor-community alliances; local government law; living wage ordinances; community benefit agreements

Chapter.  9800 words. 

Subjects: Employment and Labour Law

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