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Change to Win: Can Structural Reform Revitalize the American Labor Movement?

Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations

ISBN: 978-0-76231-386-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-470-6

Publication date: 1 January 2006


The U.S. labor movement is in decline and a crisis of national leadership has emerged over conflicting prescriptions for labor's revival. Union leaders have seemingly established consensus on the need for change, but disagree about the nature of needed reform, and methods for accomplishing meaningful changes that might address the long-term crisis.

This paper strives to inform and advance debates on these issues. Two national union surveys conducted in 1990 and 1997 provide the primary evidentiary base. Given their critical role in this study, measures from the surveys and certain aspects of the surveys are scrutinized. These surveys span the “Sweeney Insurgency” and the early years of the Sweeney AFL-CIO administration. Although both surveys have supported previous cross-section based studies, no published work has expressly focused on the change and stability within national unions or the longitudinal potential these data collectively provide. Using this potential to reexamine relations between union structures, strategies, and performance, this paper seeks to establish an evidentiary base to inform the current debate about union reforms and their likely consequences. In addition, suggestions for future research on unions and approaches to studying unions are offered.


Fiorito, J., Jarley, P. and Delaney, J.T. (2006), "Change to Win: Can Structural Reform Revitalize the American Labor Movement?", Lewin, D. and Kaufman, B.E. (Ed.) Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations (Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 359-391.



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