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Organizing Matters

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Organizing Matters

Two Logics of Trade Union Representation

9781839104022 Edward Elgar Publishing
Guy Mundlak, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Publication Date: May 2020 ISBN: 978 1 83910 402 2 Extent: c 264 pp
Organizing Matters demonstrates the interplay between two distinct logics of labour’s collective action: on the one hand, workers coming together, usually at their place of work, entrusting the union to represent their interests and, on the other hand, social bargaining in which the trade union constructs labour’s interests from the top down. The book investigates the tensions and potential complementarities between the two logics through the combination of a strong theoretical framework and an extensive qualitative case study of trade union organizing and recruitment in four countries – Austria, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands. These countries still utilize social-wide bargaining but find it necessary to draw and develop strategies transposed from Anglo-American countries in response to continuously declining membership.

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Organizing Matters demonstrates the interplay between two distinct logics of labour’s collective action: on the one hand, workers coming together, usually at their place of work, entrusting the union to represent their interests and, on the other hand, social bargaining in which the trade union constructs labour’s interests from the top down. The book investigates the tensions and potential complementarities between the two logics through the combination of a strong theoretical framework and an extensive qualitative case study of trade union organizing and recruitment in four countries – Austria, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands. These countries still utilize social-wide bargaining but find it necessary to draw and develop strategies transposed from Anglo-American countries in response to continuously declining membership.

Trade unionists and scholars will find this a compelling story of organizing, narrated in the voice of organizers, trade union officials and local observers. This is a source for reflection on the daily hardship and strategic goals of organizing. Theorists will be able to utilize the two logics for explaining ongoing challenges for trade unions’ revitalization worldwide.
Critical Acclaim
‘Labour unions worldwide have had decades to experiment with different revitalization strategies to combat declining membership and political influence. In Organizing Matters, Guy Mundlak provides a uniquely comprehensive and engaging analysis of how these experiments have played out in four countries where unions are experiencing a growing gap between collective agreement coverage (high or stable) and union membership (low or declining). He draws on examples of organizing campaigns, rich with detail and quotes, to show the tensions unions in these countries experience when they seek to mobilize and recruit members at enterprise level – as well as the potential for these strategies to complement traditional forms of ‘social bargaining’ at sector or national level. The book’s findings give grounds for cautious hope that trade unions are forging new hybrid strategies that use workplace organizing to both strengthen employee voice and mobilize institutional power.’
– Virginia Doellgast, Cornell University, US
Contents
Contents: Introduction 1. The Two Logics of Labour's Association 2. Hybrid industrial relations systems – between Ghent and sliced up bargaining units 3. Four hybrid systems – converging challenges, divergent institutions 4. Declining membership and a rising legitimacy gap 5. Membership-based strategies - organizing and recruitment 6. Between two logics - strains of organizing when membership counts 7. Between two logics - bridging practices as a path toward revitalization AftermathThe two logics and membership counts Bibliography Index


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