Organizing Together: Benefits and Drawbacks of Community-Labor Coalitions for Community Organizations

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Date
2020-03
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Social Service Review
Abstract
Community-labor coalitions unite grassroots community organizations and hierarchical labor unions with the promise of increasing the effectiveness of each. Little is known, however, about whether and how community organizations benefit from such partnerships. We analyze survey data from the National Study of Community Organizing Organizations and field data from community-labor coalitions in Chicago to identify benefits and drawbacks for community organizations collaborating with unions. We find that community organizations that have unions as members generate more media attention, possess a broader tactical repertoire, and are more likely to mount state-level advocacy campaigns. Those benefits, however, come at the expense of grassroots mobilizing and result in less neighborhood-level organizing, fewer volunteers, and smaller turnouts at protest actions, all of which are vital to community organizing. Understanding these benefits and drawbacks can help advocates adjust strategy, tactics, and goals to ensure the long-term viability of community-labor coalitions.
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Keywords
community-labor coalitions, community organizing, labor unions, political advocacy
Citation
Doussard, Marc and Brad R. Fulton. (2020) “Organizing Together: Identifying Benefits and Drawbacks of Community-Labor Coalitions for Community Organizing Efforts.” Social Service Review 94:36-74.
DOI
10.1086/707568
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