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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 17 (1991)

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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 17 (1991)

An Organizing Model of Unionism


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    An Inside Game in Wisconsin: IBEW 1791 vs. Marathon Electric
    Kurschner, Dale (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] By the mid-1980s, allegations of union busting had become as common in the upper Midwest's labor environment as management claims that competition was forcing it to seek concessions. Regardless of management's true intent, local unions from Milwaukee to Minneapolis often lost ground, either in contract talks or in keeping their members interested and supportive. They lost because they continued to fight the old way, while management was using a barrage of new weapons from corporate restructurings and plant modernizations to clever legal maneuvers. But a battle fought in central Wisconsin turned the tables on management there in 1987, when 590 members of Local 1791 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) mastered the use of previously unheard of workplace strategies. The new labor tactic saved Local 1791 and its members' jobs. It eventually led management to reverse its stand from harsh concessions to a healthy pay and benefit increase, and it sent a significant sign to management that labor had learned to fight back the modern way.
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    Labor Bookshelf
    Metzgar, Jack (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] The four books under review here argue against the statistics by telling story upon story of the activities that clearly have the potential for reversing labor's demise. Most of the stories are about defensive struggles not new offensives, and even the most inspiring "victories" are hedged with all sorts of qualifications. But you cannot read these books without a sense of renewal and hope for the future, without a sense of what is possible when working people take things in their own hands.
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    Striking NYNEX
    Early, Steve (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] The four-month strike by 60,000 telephone workers at NYNEX in 1989 was one of the largest and most significant anti-concession struggles of the decade. In an era when many unions have lost highly publicized contract fights and been forced to make give-backs, the NYNEX strikers successfully resisted management demands that they pay hundreds and eventually thousands of dollars a year for their medical coverage. They also defeated the company's drive for new forms of "flexible compensation" designed to replace base wage increases and COLAs with lump-sum payments and profit-sharing. Successful union resistance to these concessions would not have been possible without an unprecedented pre-strike program of membership education and internal organizing. The contract campaign conducted by the 30 NYNEX local unions within the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and their allies in NYNEX units represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) reflects CWA's nationwide commitment to rankand- file mobilization through the "one-on-one" approach.
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    Organizing for Everything We Do: CWA at AT&T and US West
    Butler, Margaret (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] In the Communications Workers of America, we've been facing tough challenges in recent years. Add Reaganomics to the breakup of the Bell System and changing technology, and you have a formula for a rough time at the bargaining table. To increase our power, we've increasingly been using an organizing approach for everything we do. We call it "Mobilization."
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    Organizing Never Stops
    Muehlenkamp, Robert (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] When we have a demonstration or we have a picketline in our local union and we want the members to come out and we want the members to participate, why is it that Eddie's area in our union has the most participation, even though the buses from his area of the union have to come the farthest?
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    Creating a Culture of Organizing: ACTWU's Education for Empowerment
    La Luz, Jose (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] Providing rank-and-file members opportunities to participate and learn from their own experiences in organizing other workers is not only a very powerful educational tool. It also goes a long way in creating a culture of organizing when it is part of an overall education program, driven by the union's strategic goals.
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    New York's 1199 in 1989: Rebuilding a Troubled Union
    Hudson, Gerald; Caress, Barbara (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] 1199's contract campaign of 1989 resulted in more than a contract victory for 50,000 hospital and nursing home workers. It marked the moment when 1199 reconstituted itself. The method and form that reconstitution took had everything to with the peculiar history of the union and a fundamentally destabilizing leadership crisis, with the racial and ethnic diversity of the people in the union and the different kinds of work they do, and with the industry they work in. Ironically, some of the techniques used to achieve the victory, developed to compensate for structural weaknesses, reinforced those weaknesses. The union's continuing problem is to find ways of integrating its successes with its ordinary life.
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    Contract Servicing From An Organizing Model: Don't Bureaucratize, Organize!
    Conrow, Teresa (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. I looked again at the phone messages in front of me. Negotiations were to begin the following week, and copies of contract proposals covered my desk. I looked at the walls for relief. There was a picket sign from the 1987 Red Cross nurses strike, a photo of a hundred women from the AFL-CIO Summer Institute, and a poster of a young woman, fist in the air, tearing the boards off a vacant house where our community group had moved in a homeless family. Just yesterday I had taped up a snapshot of health care workers from Los Angeles area unions jointly picketing a hospital. These are some of the pictures I value from my work as a labor representative and organizer. Yet here I sat, feeling like the worst of bureaucrats, trying to figure out how to avoid some of the very people I represent.
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    Creating A Monster: AFSCME's Ready-to-Fight in Illinois
    Halpern, Abel (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] Frequent media images of hundreds of county workers marching in front of public buildings in Rockford, Illinois, chanting confrontational slogans, rocked an otherwise sedate community. In an area where trade unionism derives its identity from the now small manufacturing sector, TV audiences were mesmerized by the sight of nursing home workers, court clerks, mechanics, jail guards, clericals, probation officers and tradesmen standing together, redefining the nature of unionism in Winnebago County.