Changing to Organize: A National Assessment of Union Organizing Strategies

Kate Bronfenbrenner , Cornell University
Robert Hickey, Cornell University

Suggested Citation
Bronfenbrenner, K. & Hickey, R. (2004). Changing to Organize: A National Assessment of Union Organizing Strategies. In R. Milkman & K. Voss (Eds.), Organize or Die: Labor’s Prospects in Neo-Liberal America (pp. 17-60). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press/ILR Press. Required Publisher Statement
Posted with the permission of the Cornell University Press.


[Excerpt] In this chapter we seek to answer the following questions: Why has it been so difficult for unions to turn the organizing efforts and initiatives of the last six years into any significant gains in union density? Why have a small number of unions been able to make major gains through organizing? And most importantly, which organizing strategies will be most effective in reversing the tide of the labor movement's organizing decline?

What our findings will show is that while the political, legal, and economic climate for organizing continues to deteriorate, and private sector employers continue to mount aggressive opposition to organizing efforts, some unions are winning. Our findings also show that the unions that are most successful at organizing run fundamentally different campaigns, in both quality and intensity, than those that are less successful, and that those differences hold true across a wide range of organizing environments, company characteristics, bargaining unit demographics, and employer campaign variables.