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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 21 (1993)

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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 21 (1993)

No More Business As Usual: Labor's Corporate Campaigns


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    Labor Bookshelf
    LeRoy, Greg (1993-09-01)
    [Excerpt] But for the NAFTA debate, you'd hardly know that almost two million Americans are still being permanently laid-off every year. Two new books focus on job loss and the few legal protections U.S. workers have against the effects of shutdowns.
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    Framing the Fight: Media Savvy Bolsters Corporate Campaigns
    Keiser, Karen (1993-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Marc Rich was a marked man. His face smirked from thousands of wanted posters plastered across the country, hung up in union halls from Scranton, Pa. to Sacramento, Ca. The poster even found its way to Switzerland where Rich resided. Rich was a man marked by the United Steelworkers of America in its battle with the Ravenswood Aluminum Company of West Virginia. The Steelworkers' corporate campaign to save the workers at "Fort RAC" included a media strategy with all the right moves.
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    LRR Focus: Pigs are Flying Over Ole St. Joe's
    [Excerpt] "You'll see a union in this hospital when pigs fly!" So went the opening statement of the new director of Human Resources at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois. Flying pigs instantly became our campaign mascot. On election night a banner flew proclaiming our victory that said, "Pigs are flyin' over ole St. Joe's."
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    LRR Focus: Taking the Organizing Approach to Comprehensive Campaigns
    Russo, John (1993-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Must a local union always rely on its international to conduct and win a comprehensive, or corporate, campaign? Using an organizing model of unionism which relies on the knowledge, access to information, organizing skills, and community ties of its members, local unions can meet corporate challenges. The potential also exists for the local union to maintain and deepen this culture of organizing. Three examples from Northeast Ohio demonstrate the power of membership-driven comprehensive campaigns.
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    Mobilizing Internationally
    Cohen, Larry (1993-09-01)
    [Excerpt] CWA's experience with Northern Telecom also holds vital lessons for mobilizing internationally at other multinational corporations. Corporate attempts to gain greater market share and profits, often at the expense of workers, can be stymied by taking a long-term strategy towards the company based on research and analysis, membership education and involvement, organizing, and international labor solidarity.
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    Setting a Research Agenda
    Chu, David (1993-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Whether we call them "corporate" or "strategic" or "comprehensive" or "pressure" campaigns, they all boil down in good street slang to "Fight the Power!" At the core, corporate campaigns share a common mind-set: unions can advance the interests of workers and their communities by thinking more broadly, creatively, and carefully about how to confront the boss. Corporate campaigns work because they bring together the various strengths of a union, and fight the employer on many different battlegrounds. An effective campaign wages war on the street and in the boardroom to neutralize the boss's edge in money and power. Unions, in turn, use the resources available to us: leaders and workers willing to fight, insight and a sense of justice on issues of the day, strong ties in our communities, a good staff of able organizers and aggressive lawyers... and maybe a sense of humor thrown in for good measure.
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    Planning to Win: Taking a Comprehensive Approach to Labor's Corporate Campaigns
    [Excerpt] There are some labor debacles that keep us up nights with the If Onlies. No names. You know which ones they are, and why they went bust. And the real kicker is that workers lost, not because management was so on-target clever, but because labor seemed to be playing Russian Roulette with seven bullets in a six-gun. Which is why we love strategic campaigns. Because they show labor at its smartest and most effective. And because — with strong commitment, sound preparation, vigorous organizing and an uncynical devotion to social and economic justice — labor can put up a damn good fight and win!
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    The Right Thing, The Smart Thing: A Call for Mass Action
    Acuff, Stewart (1993-09-01)
    [Excerpt] I was an organizer for 14 years. I never met with an organizing committee or spoke at a mass meeting when I didn t remind workers of something we all understand intuitively: There is one way you get what you need and want in this world—power. There are only two ways to get it—lots of money or lots of people organized together. Working people have never gotten anything except when they were organized and moving. The most important questions we in Atlanta deal with everyday are: How do we build power? How do we exercise power in a way that helps us build more power? We believe mass action, in all its many forms, is the most effective way to exercise power. We believe mass action actually helps build more power. American trade unionists operate in an environment that is full of constraints on our activity. Our private sector organizing is constrained by the NLRB. Our membership service is dictated by a contract. We often ask our attorneys to sign off on union activities. We double-check our "public approval ratings." We accept these constraints for a variety of reasons both good and bad. But where we accept these constraints absolutely, we limit our ability to build and exercise power and, therefore, our effectiveness as trade unions. The only real tool we have is the strength of our membership. Any time the labor movement or any individual union in our country has grown or won substantial gains has been when members have been moving in mass action. Mass action is the smart thing and the right thing to do.
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    Taking On the Global Boss: An Interview with Paul Garver of the IUF
    Banks, Andy (1993-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Paul Garver is a coordinator on transnational corporations at the International Union of Food, Agriculture, Tobacco, Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Workers (IUF), an international trade union secretariat (ITS). The IUF has three staff people who coordinate the work of IUF in dealing with transnational corporations operating within IUF industries. This interview was conducted by LRR Associate Editor Andy Banks, who is the Education Officer for Public Services International (PSI), the ITS for public sector unions. Both are based in Geneva, Switzerland.
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    Making Pigs Fly
    Albright, Vedie; Couturier, Michelle; Jones, Kay (1993-09-01)
    [Excerpt] "You'll see a union in this hospital when pigs fly." So went the opening statement by the new Vice President of Human Resources at St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois. Poor staffing ratios, out-dated equipment, lack of respect and nonexistent communications between staff and management compelled the nurses of St. Joe's to bring in the Illinois Nurses Association in February, 1991. Fifteen years earlier, the nurses had tried to organize a union but had lost the election. Ironically, the issues were the same — nothing had changed. The odds still appeared to be against the nurses. St. Joe's management hired the notorious law firm Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather and Geraldson and two anti-union consultants, Modern Management, Inc. and Management Science Associates. They forced the nurses out on strike for 61 days in the dead of winter, and tried to use a Colorado-based scab nursing agency, U.S. Nursing, to bring in replacements. This time, however, the outcome was different. On March 16, 1993, after the longest strike in Illinois nursing history, the St. Joe's Nurses Association/INA signed their first contract with the medical center. Had it not been for the overwhelming community support, built over the months of organizing and negotiating, there is little chance that we would have won our struggle for a union. We gained support not only because our cause was just, but because we had strong primary and secondary leadership in the union and a communication network which reached every St. Joe's nurse. We took these same strengths and skills and applied them in the public arena. Anti-union management, union-busting lawyers and consultants could not stop us.