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Unions and the CityNegotiating Urban Change$
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Ian Thomas MacDonald

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501706547

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501706547.001.0001

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The Urbanization of Union Strategy and Struggle

(p.1) Introduction
Unions and the City

Ian Thomas MacDonald

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the urbanization of labor union strategies. Labor unions are organizations formed by workers to accomplish a common purpose. They were formed in the workplace where workers' power is at its greatest potential extent. However, the recognition that organized labor can no longer be successful when action is confined to the workplace encourages unions to pursue strategies that link workplace organization to extra-workplace relations where they may find additional sources of power and greater liberty of action. In linking other spheres of social life to the workplace, unions transgress the boundaries that defined the postwar employment relations system and begin charting an arena of labor struggle and strategy that is specifically urban. In pursuing urban labor strategies, unions are extending their representative function both to nonunionized workers and to the many ways in which their members are not just workers but social actors with a plurality of needs and identities.

Keywords:   labor union strategies, labor unions, organized labor, workplace organization, social life, labor struggle, urban labor strategies, nonunionized workers

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