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Book part
Publication date: 19 November 2019

Yvonne A. Lamptey and Yaw A. Debrah

The informal sector is expanding in the developing countries while the formal sector is shrinking. The loss of employees through workforce reduction strategies has…

Abstract

The informal sector is expanding in the developing countries while the formal sector is shrinking. The loss of employees through workforce reduction strategies has adversely affected trade union membership in Ghana. To make up for the loss of members, the trade unions recruit the informal workers into their fold. Using in-depth interviews, this study explores trade union organization of informal workers and the suitability of these forms of organization within the informal sector in Ghana. The results indicate that formal trade unions are desperately adopting traditional methods and structures to organize informal workers into their fold without success. There is therefore the need for the informal workers to self-organize and for the trade unions to create streams of membership for affiliation.

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Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-192-6

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Book part
Publication date: 24 July 2020

Gayle Hamilton and Marick F. Masters

The future of unions hangs in the balance. Labor unions face enormous challenges to overcome decades of decline and diminishing power. The authors examine the current…

Abstract

The future of unions hangs in the balance. Labor unions face enormous challenges to overcome decades of decline and diminishing power. The authors examine the current status of unions with an eye toward identifying pathways to rejuvenation. Our analysis focuses on what the authors know about the decline of unions, how its compares historically, and what avenues are available to unions to change. Pathways to growth with undoubtedly require breaking old molds, which have proven ineffective. Unions need to explore new models of representation to take advantage of a changing workforce with new employment relationships typified by the “gig economy.” The authors present an agenda for fruitful research and discuss the implications of a weakened labor movement on the well-being of society.

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Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-076-1

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Book part
Publication date: 10 December 2018

Geraldine Pratt and Migrante BC

We contextualize contemporary domestic worker organizing in Vancouver within a history of domestic worker organizing in Canada and then build the argument that their…

Abstract

We contextualize contemporary domestic worker organizing in Vancouver within a history of domestic worker organizing in Canada and then build the argument that their organizing has been structured by the gendered geographies of: international migration; the location of the work in the private home; and the prevalence of stepwise migration of Filipina domestic workers to Canada. These gendered geographies have led to a distinctive mode of organizing: in the community around a wide range of issues that enfold social reproduction into workplace issues to engage the entirety of individuals’ and families’ lives across the life course. Domestic workersorganizing is grounded in the spatialities and materialities of their lives, and seemingly familiar gender scripts take on an active force in the domestic workers’ mobilization. Confronting the contradictions of organizing domestic workers and organizing to revalue domestic work points to the enduring undervaluation of feminized workers and their work, as well as the potential for intersectional solidarities along with the need for multisectoral strategies.

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Gendering Struggles against Informal and Precarious Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-368-5

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Book part
Publication date: 10 December 2018

Rina Agarwala and Jennifer Jihye Chun

Gender is a defining feature of informal/precarious work in the twenty-first century, yet studies rarely adopt a gendered lens when examining collective efforts to…

Abstract

Gender is a defining feature of informal/precarious work in the twenty-first century, yet studies rarely adopt a gendered lens when examining collective efforts to challenge informality and precarity. This chapter foregrounds the gendered dimensions of informal/precarious workers’ struggles as a crucial starting point for re-theorizing the future of global labor movements. Drawing upon the findings of the volume’s six chapters spanning five countries (the United States, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, and India) and two gender-typed sectors (domestic work and construction), this chapter explores how gender is intertwined into informal/precarious workers’ movements, why gender is addressed, and to what end. Across countries and sectors, informal/precarious worker organizations are on the front lines of challenging the multiple forms of gendered inequalities that shape contemporary practices of accumulation and labor regulation. They expose the forgotten reality that class structures not only represent classification struggles around work, but also around social identities, such as gender, race, and migration status. However, these organizing efforts are not fighting to transform the gendered division of labor or embarking on revolutionary struggles to overturn private ownership and liberalized markets. Nonetheless, these struggles are making major transformations in terms of increasing women’s leadership and membership in labor movements and exposing how gender interacts with other ascriptive identities to shape work. They are also radicalizing hegemonic scripts of capitalist accumulation, development, and even gender to attain recognition for female-dominated occupations and reproductive needs for the first time ever. These outcomes are crucial as sources of emancipatory transformations at a time when state and public support for labor and social protection is facing a deep assault stemming from the pressures of transnational production and globalizing markets.

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Gendering Struggles against Informal and Precarious Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-368-5

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Book part
Publication date: 22 December 2005

Lisa Jordan and Robert Bruno

This chapter considers the provocative yet unexplored idea that a relationship exists between the nature by which a union wins recognition from an employer and the…

Abstract

This chapter considers the provocative yet unexplored idea that a relationship exists between the nature by which a union wins recognition from an employer and the collective bargaining outcomes that are produced. Since at least the Ronald Reagan Administration, many trade, service and industrial unions in the United States have deployed alterative means to win recognition. Unions have negotiated a host of neutrality and card-check agreements as alternatives to petitioning for elections under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Board. The use of these diverse organizing mechanisms has been well documented by numerous authors writing in the “union revitalization” genre, but what has not been done is the evaluation of the bargaining outcomes – effects – of different organizing tactics. The critical questions that have not been answered until now are, “What difference does it make how a union wins recognition?” Are the fortunes of newly organized union workers influenced by the way that they are brought into the labor movement? Based on a ten-year review of several successful union organizing cases, the findings from this chapter suggest that the key variable in gaining certification and ultimately a first contract is the ability of the union to leverage power and to do so in a timely manner.

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Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-265-8

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Article
Publication date: 11 January 2019

Melanie Simms, Jane Holgate and Carl Roper

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on how the UK’s Trade Union Congress, in the 150th year of its formation, has been responding to the significant changes in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on how the UK’s Trade Union Congress, in the 150th year of its formation, has been responding to the significant changes in the labour market, working practices and union decline. The paper considers Trades Union Congress (TUC) initiatives to recruit and organise new groups of workers as it struggles to adapt to the new world of work many workers are experiencing. Although the paper reviews progress in this regard it also considers current and future challenges all of which are becoming increasingly urgent as the current cohort of union membership is aging and presents a demographic time bomb unless new strategies and tactics are adopted to bring in new groups of workers – particularly younger workers.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a review paper so it mainly draws on writings (both academic and practitioner) on trade union strategy and tactics in relations to organising approaches and in particularly the TUC’s initiatives from the period of “New Unionism” onwards.

Findings

The authors note that while unions have managed to retain a presence in workplaces and industries where they membership and recognition, there has, despite a “turn to organising” been less success than was perhaps hoped for when new organising initiatives were introduced in 1998. In order to expand the bases of organisation into new workplaces and in new constituencies there needs to be a move away from the “institutional sclerosis” that has prevented unions adapting to the changing nature of employment and the labour market restructuring. The paper concludes that in order to effect transformative change requires leaders to develop strategic capacity and innovation among staff and the wider union membership. This may require unions to rethink the way that they operate and be open to doing thing radically different.

Originality/value

The paper’s value is that it provides a comprehensive overview of the TUC’s role in attempting to inject an organising culture with the UK union movement by drawing out some of the key debates on this topic from both scholarly and practitioner writings over the last few decades.

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Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. 41 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Book part
Publication date: 10 December 2018

Chris Tilly, Georgina Rojas-García and Nik Theodore

Recent research begins to explore how organizations of informal workers function, and succeed or fail. Using cases of domestic-worker movements in Mexico and the United…

Abstract

Recent research begins to explore how organizations of informal workers function, and succeed or fail. Using cases of domestic-worker movements in Mexico and the United States, we seek to extend this research by adding historical analysis of the movements’ evolution through a cross-national analysis of movement differences. We draw on concepts from the social movement and intersectionality literature. Historically, the two movements have been propelled by multiple streams of activism corresponding to shifting salient intersectional identities and frames, always including gender but incorporating other elements as well. Comparatively, the US domestic-worker movement recently has had greater success due to superior financial resources and more facilitative political opportunities – advantages due in part precisely to intersectional identities resonant with potential allies. However, this relative advantage was not always present and may not persist. Social movement concepts and intersectional analysis thus help understand both historical changes and cross-national contrasts in informal-worker organizing.

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Gendering Struggles against Informal and Precarious Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-368-5

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Book part
Publication date: 10 December 2018

Ruth Milkman

This chapter compares and contrasts organizing and advocacy among US domestic workers and day laborers. These two occupations share many features: both are ill-suited to…

Abstract

This chapter compares and contrasts organizing and advocacy among US domestic workers and day laborers. These two occupations share many features: both are ill-suited to conventional unionism; immigrants, many of them unauthorized, have long dominated the workforce in both; both are entry-level jobs at the bottom of the labor market (although both are also internally stratified); and both have been the focus of advocacy and organizing at both the local and national level in recent decades. Yet, there are also significant contrasts between the two. First and foremost, women are the vast majority of domestic workers while men predominate among day laborers. Another striking difference is that while domestic labor is hidden from public view inside private households, day laborers are regularly on display on street corners and other public spaces. This chapter explores the effects of such similarities and differences on the collective action repertoires of day laborers and domestic workers. In both cases, many workers have individualistic, entrepreneurial ambitions, a formidable organizing challenge; yet, orientation does not necessarily impede and sometimes even facilitates collective action. Day laborers’ demands are largely economic, and these (predominantly male) workers often hope to return to their countries of origin; domestic workers (overwhelmingly female) are more interested in improved opportunities within the US. Although women are overrepresented in the leadership of both domestic workers’ and day laborers’ organizations, male day laborers and female domestic workers have distinct experiences and aspirations, and put forward different types of demands, generating gendered collective action repertoires.

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Gendering Struggles against Informal and Precarious Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-368-5

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Book part
Publication date: 6 August 2018

Maite Tapia, Manfred Elfström and Denisse Roca-Servat

In this paper, we draw from our own empirical data on worker organizing and identify important concepts that bridge social movement (SM) and industrial relations (IR…

Abstract

In this paper, we draw from our own empirical data on worker organizing and identify important concepts that bridge social movement (SM) and industrial relations (IR) theory. In a context of traditional union decline and a surge of alternative types of worker mobilization, we apply SM and IR concepts related to the mobilizing structures and culture to cases of labor organizing via worker centers and community–labor alliances in the United States and China. From an analytical perspective, we argue that the field of SMs and IR can both benefit from this type of cross-discipline theorization.

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Social Movements, Stakeholders and Non-Market Strategy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78754-349-2

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Book part
Publication date: 10 December 2018

Jennifer Jihye Chun and Yang-Sook Kim

In this chapter, we examine the multifaceted challenges that feminist labor organizations face in decommodifying the lives and labor of poor and working-class women. Using…

Abstract

In this chapter, we examine the multifaceted challenges that feminist labor organizations face in decommodifying the lives and labor of poor and working-class women. Using an in-depth case study of domestic worker organizing in South Korea, we find that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the National House Managers Cooperative and the Korean Women Workers Association became entangled in hegemonic state projects that linked support for women’s basic livelihoods to the proliferation of part-time, informal domestic work in the context of widespread crises. To challenge the discriminatory and market-driven logics of state-driven social protection efforts, these NGOs have advanced an emancipatory agenda to improve the working conditions, labor rights, and social dignity of domestic workers through consciousness-raising grassroots organizing methods and contentious policy advocacy campaigns. Their social movement transformation goals, however, have been constrained by the relative organizational isolation and limited organizational capacity of feminist labor NGOs in a broader context of neoliberal precaritization and gender-stratified labor markets. The myriad dilemmas facing domestic worker organizing in an era of global hegemonic market rule highlight the need to develop new political imaginaries to contest gender and economic injustice.

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Gendering Struggles against Informal and Precarious Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-368-5

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