Cornell University

March 23 2007

Labor in the New Urban Battlegrounds: Local Solidarity in a Global Economy

Lowell Turner, Professor and Chair, International and Comparative Labor and Daniel Cornfield, Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University, have co-edited a book on urban coalition building and innovative union strategies for labor movement revitalization. The new book includes several chapters by ILR graduate students along with chapters by numerous other experts on urban politics and labor.  The following is an excerpt from the publisher.

Labor in the New Urban BattlegroundsLabor in the New Urban Battlegrounds examines a diverse array of innovative strategies for revitalizing the labor movement by forming alliances outside the workplace with a variety of community groups, social movements, and faith-based organizations, particularly those that address civil rights, immigrant rights, and consumer concerns. This book presents case studies of issues—such as living wages, community development corporations, and local politics—around which urban coalitions are built in "union towns" (New York City, Boston, Buffalo, and Seattle), "frontier cities" (Los Angeles, Miami, San Jose, and Nashville), and European cities (London, Frankfurt, and Hamburg).

Introducing the role of urban social context in the field of labor revitalization, the editors have chosen cases with different outcomes—cities in which strong coalitions have enabled new union influence are contrasted with those in which such coalition building has been thwarted.

As they survey the successes and failures of the new urban labor movement, the editors and contributors conclude that actor choice, strategic innovation, coalition building, and the urban context of labor organizing are key elements in the revitalization of the labor movement and the renewal of democracy.

This book will allow the labor leaders of the future to learn from the recent experiences of their peers throughout the United States and Europe.

  • Ron Applegate, Cornell University
  • Barbara Byrd, University of Oregon
  • William Canak, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Daniel B. Cornfield, Vanderbilt University
  • Benjamin Day, Mass-Care: The Massachusetts Campaign for Single Payer Health Care
  • Peter Evans, University of California, Berkeley
  • Lou Jean Fleron, Cornell University
  • Ian Greer, Cornell University and Leeds University
  • Marco Hauptmeier, Cornell University
  • Jane Holgate, London Metropolitan University
  • Otto Jacobi, Laboratorium Europa
  • Heiwon Kwon, Cornell University
  • Stephanie Luce, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • Bruce Nissen, Florida International University
  • David Reynolds, Wayne State University
  • Nari Rhee, University of California, Berkeley
  • Monica Russo, SEIU
  • Julie A. Sadler, University of Delaware
  • Jefferey M. Sellers, University of Southern California
  • Lowell Turner, Cornell University
  • Jane Wills, University of London

"As multinational corporations dominate more aspects of our daily lives, it is critical that we develop global strategies for solving local problems. This important new book does just that. By comparing local union organizing campaigns from around the world, this talented group of labor researchers makes a unique contribution to our understanding of the global labor movement."—Bruce Raynor, General President, UNITE HERE!