Power in Coalition: Strategies for Strong Unions and Social Change

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{Excerpt} For decades, unions around the world, like the teachers' union in Australia, have been struggling. Across advanced English-speaking economies, we have seen the rising power of capital and its increasing influence over government. This has created a hostile environment for unions, characterized by aggressive employers, unfriendly governments, and declining union membership. Unions have been forced to reevaluate their role and objectives. Debates have considered how unions could advance the conditions of their members and whether achieving this goal also requires a more fundamental confrontation with the political and economic logic that underpins this crisis for unions (Hyman 2007). This book is about the promise of successful coalitions. I consider why coalitions have re-surfaced as a strategy and the various ways in which coalitions can successfully achieve social change and rebuild the organizational strength of civil society. To do this, I identify three elements of coalitions using case studies based in Australia, the United States, and Canada. I draw out key principles about how to build strong coalitions and the circumstances under which coalitions succeed. I apply these lessons directly to unions, distinguishing the ways in which coalitions support union revitalization and enable unions to win on issues and build political agendas that they have struggled with on their own.

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