Sociological Forum

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

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

Article
  • 43 Downloads

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.

KEY WORDS:

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

REFERENCES

  1. Administration for Children and Families2003 “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program information memo.” Memorandum number TANF-ACF-IM-2003-02. Department of Health and Human Services, September 17, 2003. Online at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/2002/im2003-2.htm. Accessed September 2006.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, Katherine, and Maria Kirby2000 “Unfinished business: Why cities matter to welfare reform.” Report. Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. Online at http://www.brookings.edu/es/urban/welfarecaseloads/wfrstdy.pdf. Accessed September 2005.Google Scholar
  3. Ansell, Christopher2001 Schism and Solidarity in Social Movements: The Politics of Labor in the French Third Republic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Arnold, Gretchen1995 “Dilemmas of feminist coalitions: Collective identity and strategic effectiveness in the battered women’s movement.” In Myra Max Ferree and Patricia Yancey Martin (eds.), Feminist Organizations: Harvest of the New Women’s Movement: 276–290. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barnett, William P., and Michael Woywode2004 “From Red Vienna to Anschluss: Ideological competition among Viennese newspapers during the rise of National Socialism.” American Journal of Sociology 109(6):1452–1499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beaumont, Phil B.1992 Public Sector Industrial Relations. London, New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Boris, Eileen1999 “When work is slavery.” In Gwendolyn Mink (ed.), Whose Welfare?: 36–55. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brecher, Jeremy, and Tim Costello (eds.)1990 Building Bridges: The Emerging Grassroots Coalition between Labor and Community. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bronfenbrenner, Kate, Sheldon Friedman, Richard W. Hurd, Rudolph A. Oswald, and Ronald L. Seeber (eds.)1998 Organizing to Win: New Research in Union Strategies. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  10. Burawoy, Michael1991 “Reconstructing theories,” and “The extended case method.” In Michael Burawoy (ed.), Ethnography Unbound: Power and Resistance in the Modern Metropolis: 8–27, 271–287. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  11. Citizens for Workfare Justice1998 “When work doesn’t pay: ‘Workfare’ in Los Angeles County.” (February 13).Google Scholar
  12. Clawson, Dan2003 The Next Upsurge: Labor and New Social Movements. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  13. Department of Public Social Services GAIN Division2000 “Grounds maintenance helper pilot program. Design and implementation plan.” Memo, May 25.Google Scholar
  14. Dreiling, Michael1998 “From margin to center: Environmental justice and social unionism as sites for intermovement solidarity.” Race, Gender and Class 6(1):51–69.Google Scholar
  15. Eimer, Stuart1999 “From ‘business unionism’ to ‘social movement unionism’: The case of the AFL-CIO Milwaukee County Labor Council.” Labor Studies Journal 24(2):63–81.Google Scholar
  16. Estabrook, Thomas, Carlos Eduardo Siqueira, and Eduardo Paes Machado2000 “Labor–community alliances in petrochemical regions in the United States and Brazil: What does it take to win?” Capitalism, Nature, and Socialism 11(3):113–145.Google Scholar
  17. Fantasia, Rick, and Kim Voss2004 Hard Work: Remaking the American Labor Movement. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. George, Alexander1979 “Case studies and theory development: The method of structured, focused comparisons.” In Paul Gordon (ed.), Diplomacy: New Approaches in History, Theory, and Policy: 43–68. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  19. Goldfield, Michael1987 The Decline of Organized Labor in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  20. Greenhouse, Steven1997 “Labor leaders seek to unionize welfare recipients who must go to work.” New York Times, February 20:A18.Google Scholar
  21. Greenhouse, Steven1998a “Many participants in workfare take the place of city workers.” New York Times, April 13:A1.Google Scholar
  22. Greenhouse, Steven1998b “Union officer is said to admit vote fixing.” New York Times, December 3:A1.Google Scholar
  23. Greenhouse, Steven1999 “Vowing to go from scandal to strength, city union looks for a fight.” New York Times, July 12:B1.Google Scholar
  24. Hathaway, Will, and David S. Meyer1997 “Competition and cooperation in movement coalitions: lobbying for peace in the 1980s.” In Thomas R. Rochon and David S. Meyer (eds.), Coalitions and Political Movements: The Lessons of the Nuclear Freeze: 61–79. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  25. Heckscher, Charles, and David Palmer1993 “Associational movements and employment rights: An emerging paradigm?” Research in the Sociology of Organizations 12:279–309.Google Scholar
  26. Heuler Williams, Lisa1998 “Study and evaluation of W-2 workers and temporary employment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” Prepared for Nine to Five by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development.Google Scholar
  27. Hill, Stanley1996 Testimony Before the City Council Committees on General Welfare and Civil Service and Labor. March 26.Google Scholar
  28. Holcomb, Pamela A., Kimura Flores, Carla Herbig, Karen C. Tumlin, Christopher Botsko, Laura K. Kaye, and Kristin S. Seefeldt1997 “Income support and social services for low-income people in Wisconsin.” A paper produced for the State Reports for the Assessing the New Federalism Series. The Urban Institute. http://newfederalism.urban.orgGoogle Scholar
  29. Hughes, Charles1996 Testimony before the City Council Committees on General Welfare and Civil Service and Labor. March 26.Google Scholar
  30. Independent Budget Office, City of New York2000 “Welfare and work.” Inside the Budget Newsfax 72 (November 1).Google Scholar
  31. Independent Budget Office, City of New York2001 “The municipal workforce: Big as a decade ago, But composition has changed.” Inside the Budget Newsfax 92 (December 11).Google Scholar
  32. Institute for Wisconsin’s Future1998 “The W-2 job path: An assessment of the employment trajectory of W-2 participants in Milwaukee, July 1998.” Milwaukee, WI: IWF.Google Scholar
  33. Institute for Wisconsin’s Future1999 “The growing crisis among Wisconsin’s poorest families: A comparison of welfare caseload declines and trends in the state’s poverty population, 1986–1997.” Milwaukee, WI: IWF.Google Scholar
  34. Isaac, Larry, and Lars Christiansen2002 “How the civil rights movement revitalized labor militancy.” American Sociological Review 67(5):722–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Johnston, Paul1994 Success While Others Fail: Social Movement Unionism and the Public Workplace. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  36. Johnston, Paul2000 “The resurgence of labor as citizenship movement in the new labor relations environment.” Critical Sociology 26:139–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jonas, Andrew E. G.1995 “Labor and community in the deindustrialization of urban America.” Journal of Urban Affairs 17(2):183–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Katznelson, Ira1981 City Trenches: Urban Politics and the Patterning of Class in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  39. Katznelson, Ira2005 When Affirmative Action was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  40. Keil, Roger1994 “Green work alliances: The political economy of social ecology.” Studies in Political Economy 44:7–38.Google Scholar
  41. Krinsky, John2004 “ACORN.” In Alice O’Connor and Gwendolyn Mink (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Poverty and Social Welfare: 107–108. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
  42. Levi, Margaret2001 “Capitalizing on labor’s capital.” In Susan Saegert, J. Phillip Thompson, and Mark R. Warren (eds.), Social Capital and Poor Communities: 246–266: New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  43. Massey, Douglas S., and Nancy A. Denton1993 American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Matejka, Michael2000 “Not in our town: A community-wide anti-racism program, labor’s response, and the community’s response to labor within it.” Labor Studies Journal 25(1):66–78.Google Scholar
  45. Mayor’s Office of Operations1998 Mayor’s Management Report. New York: City of New York.Google Scholar
  46. McAdam, Doug1982 Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930–1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  47. McAdam, Doug, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly2001 Dynamics of Contention. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. McCammon, Holly J., and Karen E. Campbell2002 “Allies on the road to victory: Coalition formation between the Suffragists and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.” Mobilization: An International Journal 7(3):231–251.Google Scholar
  49. McFadden, Robert D.1998 “Union chief calls workfare ‘slavery.’” New York Times, April 19:1, 37.Google Scholar
  50. Mead, Lawrence M.2004 Government Matters: Welfare Reform in Wisconsin. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Meyer, David S.2004 “Protest and political opportunities.” Annual Review of Sociology 30:125–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Milkman, Ruth, and Kent Wong2000 “Organizing the wicked city: The 1992 southern California drywall strike.” In Ruth Milkman (ed.), Organizing Immigrants: The Challenge for Unions in Contemporary California: 169–198. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  53. Milwaukee ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and CWA (Communication Workers of America)1998 Organizing Partnership Agreement [contract].Google Scholar
  54. Milwaukee Jobs Initiativen.d. “The Milwaukee Jobs Initiative: A New Type of Job Connection Project.” http://www.cows.orgGoogle Scholar
  55. Milwaukee Women and Poverty Public Education Initiative2000 “The status of employment opportunity for W-2 participants in central city Milwaukee.” Milwaukee, MWPPEI: July.Google Scholar
  56. Ness, Immanuel1998 Trade Unions and the Betrayal of the Unemployed: Labor Conflicts During the 1990s. New York: Garland Publishing.Google Scholar
  57. Ness, Immanuel2002 “Community labor alliances: A new paradigm in the campaign to organize greengrocery workers in New York city.” In Benjamin Shepard and Ronald Hayduk (eds.), From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization: 57–73. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  58. Ness, Immanuel, and Stuart Eimer2001 Central Labor Councils and the Revival of American Unionism: Organizing for Justice in Our Communities. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  59. Nightingale, Demetra Smith and Kelly S. Mikelson2000 An overview of research related to Wisconsin Works (W-2). Washington, DC: Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  60. Nissen, Bruce1995 Fighting for Jobs: Case Studies of Labor–Community Coalitions Confronting Plant Closings. Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  61. Nissen, Bruce2003a “Contemporary affairs: What are scholars telling the U.S. labor movement to do?” Labor History 44(2):158–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nissen, Bruce2003b “Alternative strategic directions for the U.S. labor movement: Recent scholarship.” Labor Studies Journal 28(1):133–155.Google Scholar
  63. Nissen, Bruce2004 “The effectiveness and limits of labor–community coalitions: Evidence from south Florida.” Labor Studies Journal 29:67–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Obach, Brian K.2004 Labor and the Environmental Movement: The Quest for Common Ground. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  65. Pavy, Gordon R.1994 “Winning NLRB elections and establishing collective bargaining relationships.” In Sheldon Friedman, Richard W. Hurd, Rudolph A. Oswald, Ronald L. Seeber (eds.), Restoring the Promise of American Labor Law: 110–121. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  66. Peck, Jamie2001 Workfare States. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  67. Perrin, Andrew J., and Rachel Sherman1996 “Toward a theory of social movement unionism: Strategy, mobilization and knowledge in two American unions.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association, San Diego, CA, April 19.Google Scholar
  68. Polletta, Francesca, and James M. Jasper2001 “Collective identity and social movements.” American Review of Sociology 27:283–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Reese, Ellen2002 “Resisting the workfare state: ACORN’s campaign to improve general relief in Los Angeles.” Race, Gender, and Class 9(1):72–95.Google Scholar
  70. Reese, Ellen, and Garnett Newcombe2003 “Income rights, mothers’ rights, or workers’ rights? Collective action frames, organizational ideologies, and the American welfare rights movement.” Social Problems 50(2):294–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Reynolds, David1999 “Coalition politics: Insurgent union political action builds ties between labor and the community.” Labor Studies Journal 24(3):54–76.Google Scholar
  72. Robinson, Ian2000 “Neoliberal restructuring and U.S. unions: Toward social movement unionism.” Critical Sociology 26:109–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Rose, Fred2000 Coalitions Across the Class Divide: Lessons from the Labor, Peace, and Environmental Movements. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Scipes, Kim1992 “Understanding the new labor movements in the ‘third world’: The emergence of social movement unionism.” Critical Sociology 19:81–101.Google Scholar
  75. Service Employees International Union Local (SEIU) 660n.d. “GR Workfare Project report by county/non-county sponsor: Report month of 3/94.” Unpublished report located in SEIU 660’s files.Google Scholar
  76. Service Employees International Union Local (SEIU) 6601997 “Prospects for workfare in Los Angeles County.” Memo, February 21. SEIU 660’s files.Google Scholar
  77. Service Employees International Union Local (SEIU) 6601998a “GAIN participants in Work Experience in LA County.” Unpublished report located in SEIU 660’s files.Google Scholar
  78. Service Employees International Union Local (SEIU) 6601998b “Welfare reform a threat to public employees and recipients.” Flyer.Google Scholar
  79. Service Employees International Union Local (SEIU) 6601999 “Organizing workfare = Protecting jobs.” 660 Voice. January/February edition.Google Scholar
  80. Service Employees International Union Local (SEIU) 6602001 SEIU Local 660 30th Anniversary Celebration [booklet]. Los Angeles: SEIU 660.Google Scholar
  81. Silas-Green, Debra1997 “Testimony to Workers’ Rights Board hearing.” December. Milwaukee, WI.Google Scholar
  82. Simons, Tal and Paul Ingram2004 “An ecology of ideology: Theory and evidence from four populations.” Industrial and Corporate Change 13:33–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Simmons, Louise2002 “Unions and welfare reform: Labor’s stake in the ongoing struggle over the welfare state.” Labor Studies Journal 27(2):65–83.Google Scholar
  84. Squires, Gregory D.1994 Capital and Communities in Black and White: The Intersections of Race, Class and Uneven Development. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  85. Staggenborg, Suzanne1986 “Coalition work in the pro-choice movement: Organizational and environmental opportunities and obstacles.” Social Problems 33(5):374–390.Google Scholar
  86. Stepan-Norris, Judith, and Maurice Zeitlin2003 Left Out: Reds and America’s Industrial Unions. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Tait, Vanessa2005 Poor Workers’ Unions: Rebuilding Labor From Below. Cambridge: South End Press.Google Scholar
  88. Thornthwaite, Louise1997 “Union strategy and labor–community alliances: The Telephonists’ Exchange closure campaign, Queensland, 1978.” Journal of Industrial Relations 39(2):244–62.Google Scholar
  89. Tilly, Charles1984 Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  90. Tufts, Steven1998 “Community unionism in Canada and labor’s (re)organization of space.” Antipode 30(3):227–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics1999a Local Area Unemployment Sta-tistics. http://146.142.4.24/cgi-bin/surveymost.Google Scholar
  92. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics1999b Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment, 1998. Section III, Table 23. http://stats.us.gov/opub/gp/gpsec3.htmGoogle Scholar
  93. Urban Institute1998 “Sanctions, 1998.” In Welfare Rules Database: A Longitudinal Database Tracking State AFDC/TANF Policies. Online at http://www.anfdata.urban/org. Data extracted April 19, 2003.Google Scholar
  94. Van Dyke, Nella2003 “Crossing movement boundaries: Factors that facilitate coalition protest by American college students, 1930–1990.” Social Problems 50(2):226–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Voss, Kim, and Rachel Sherman2000 “Breaking the Iron Law of Oligarchy: Union revitalization in the American labor movement.” American Journal of Sociology 106(2):303–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Walters, Jonathan1997 “Why unions hate workfare.” Governing Magazine, November: 35.Google Scholar
  97. Wernick, Laura, John Krinsky, Paul Getsos, Community Voices Heard2000 WEP: New York City’s Public Sector Sweat Shop Economy. New York: Community Voices Heard.Google Scholar
  98. West, Guida1981 The National Welfare Rights Movement: The Social Protest of Poor Women. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  99. Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development1999 Milwaukee County: Regional Workforce Profile. Division of Workforce Excellence, Bureau of Workforce Information. Online at http://www.dwd.state.wi.us/dwelmi/Google Scholar
  100. Wiseman, Michael1999 “In the midst of reform: Wisconsin in 1997.” Assessing the New Federalism Discussion Paper no. 99-03. Urban Institute. Online at http://www.urban.orgGoogle Scholar
  101. Zabin, Carol2000 “Organizing Latino workers in the Los Angeles manufacturing sector: The case of American Racing Equipment.” In Ruth Milkman (ed.), Organizing Immigrants: The Challenge for Unions in Contemporary California: 150–168. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  102. Zald, Mayer N., and John D. McCarthy1980 “Social movement industries: Competition and cooperation among movement organizations.” Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change 3:1–20.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© 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

Personalised recommendations