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Our Unions, Our SelvesThe Rise of Feminist Labor Unions in Japan$
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Anne Zacharias-Walsh

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501703041

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501703041.001.0001

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Under the Microscope

Under the Microscope

(p.84) 5 Under the Microscope
Our Unions, Our Selves

Anne Zacharias-Walsh

Cornell University Press

This chapter reports on the systematic organizational self-analysis presented by Women's Union Tokyo (WUT) at the first international meeting of the US–Japan Working Women's Networks Project. During the meeting, the WUT laid out in detail all of its organizational problems and challenges, as well as the problem-solving discussions that followed. In particular, the union outlines the barriers to its growth, namely: low membership retention rate; lack of resources and strategies for communications and information sharing; shortage of funding sources; difficulty in stimulating a larger social movement; limited impact on public policy; lack of effective advertising; and inadvertent re-creation of the same kind of hierarchical power structures found in male-oriented labor unions. The chapter also summarizes the presentations of activists and educators on how participatory labor education has been used to foster greater union democracy and membership participation in the United States. Finally, it discusses the positive outcomes of the meeting, some of the lessons learned the hard way, and future prospects.

Keywords:   self-analysis, Women's Union Tokyo, US–Japan Working Women's Networks Project, membership retention, communications, information sharing, public policy, labor unions, labor education, union democracy

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