27 Lab. Stud. J. i (2002-2003)

handle is hein.journals/labstuj27 and id is 1 raw text is: 






Introduction


T   he  theme of the Spring 2001 United  Association for Labor Educa-
     tion Conference in Boston was Building Union Power in A Chang-
ing Economy. All of the articles in this special issue of the Labor Studies
Journal derive from papers presented at that conference and all grapple
with the broad  theme of how  unions can  build power in a context of
sweeping  economic  change. Together they highlight some  of the most
critical changes facing workers and their unions: fragmentation between
workers and  work settings; globalization and the growing influence of
multinational corporations; immigration and growing  worker diversity;
and privatization of government services. Some papers focus largely on
organizing, others concentrate on contract negotiation or internal union
practices. Yet, despite this variety, almost all of the papers offer a similar
lesson: While economic  change  is typically national or global in scope,
the source of union power is often local. It emanates from an active mem-
bership and must frequently reach out in coalition with other groups to
be effective.
     The  first article, by Delp and Quan, is an excellent case in point.
Their analysis of the campaign to organize home healthcare workers in
California shows how a union struggled under seemingly impossible odds
to produce the single biggest organizing win in the U.S. since the United
Auto  Workers' victory at the Ford River Rouge Plant in 1941. Grassroots
organizing and coalition building with consumers and patient rights ad-
vocates eventually led to a rationalization of the labor market through
changes in public policy that created a defined employer and framework
for improvements  in both client services and working conditions.
      The second article, by Worthen, Edwards, and Stokes, offers a simi-
lar lesson in social movement unionism. Examining the impact of welfare
reform on  social service workers and their clients, the authors discuss
how  a local union was able to link terms and conditions of employment
with the quality of client services in ways that placed workers in coalition


LABOR STUDIES JOURNAL, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring 2002). Published for the United Association
for Labor Education by the West Virginia University Press, Press, P.O. Box 6295, West
Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506. @ 2001, West Virginia University Press.


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