Sociological Forum

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 623–658 | Cite as

Forging and Sustaining Labor–Community Coalitions: The Workfare Justice Movement in Three Cities

  • John Krinsky
  • Ellen Reese

This article examines the factors shaping the formation and longevity of labor–community coalitions through comparative case studies of campaigns for workfare justice in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and New York. Interviews with organizational staff and leaders reveal that their decisions to form and sustain these coalitions were shaped by their collective identities, especially their commitment to social movement unionism, and their context, particularly the sectoral distribution of workfare workers. We also highlight the role of two factors previously overlooked by labor scholars: (1) ecological processes of niche-formation, which determined if and how inter-organizational competition was overcome, and (2) authorities’ social-control strategies, which shaped coalition endurance.


labor–community coalitions social movement unionism niche-formation inter-organizational relations collective identity 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science, North Academic Center, Room 4/126The City College of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of California—RiversideRiversideUSA

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