Teachers Care: Building Community Unionism Through Care Work in Education

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In this dissertation, I explore how and why teacher unions engage in building community coalitions, alliances, and community unionism. Through a study of teachers’ work in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I find that three important variables create the foundation for parent-union alliances. First, the care work teachers do on a daily basis forms the foundation for school communities. These school communities come to fruition through the relationship-building teachers do with their students and students’ parents. Second, the type of school influences the strength of these school communities, namely because the market relationship underlying private schools tends to limit parents’ interest in being involved in a school community. Third, the prevailing socioeconomic context affects the relationships between parents and the school, with parents in more precarious situations relying on the school as a problem-solving institution. I then compare community coalitions among three teacher organizations and show how the two unions engage in some of the first stages of community unionism yet do not evolve beyond ad hoc coalition building. In contrast, the third group is an example of a deeper form of community unionism. By engaging with the literature on care work and on community unionism, this research expands our conception of teachers’ work and identifies factors that limit or expand the potential for community unionism. I argue that teacher unions can better represent the broad spectrum of teachers’ work by adopting community unionism strategies.

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189 pages


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Argentina; care work; community unionism; teachers' work; teacher unions; union


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Union Local


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Committee Chair

Cook, Maria Lorena

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Turner, Lowell
Roberts, Kenneth
Friedman, Eli

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Industrial and Labor Relations

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Ph. D., Industrial and Labor Relations

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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