[Excerpt] The key to the contemporary revival of the American labor movement is precisely a renewed mobilization of the rank and file. Based on our combined research and work in labor education and representation, we believe that large numbers of American workers, blue and white-collar, skilled and unskilled, professional, service and manufacturing, union members and non-members, are open and in many cases ready for expanded workplace and union participation. To be sure, mobilization by itself is not enough: also necessary are national union support, innovative and flexible strategies, and coalition building, and we highlight these as well. But expanded rank-and-file participation draws on the central union comparative asset - the membership - and is essential to the success of most other strategies as well.
In this article, we present an overview of union revitalization strategies and three case studies of successful rank-and-file mobilization. Although not typical, these cases illustrate a variety of advanced union strategies in today's context, along with some of the barriers and resistance to be overcome.