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Abstract

[Excerpt] Corporate campaigns are increasingly used by unions to fight recalcitrant employers, and campaign tactics—like protests at stockholders meetings—are spreading. With the continuing employer assault on established unions and the tremendous difficulties facing workers attempting to organize, a further increase in corporate campaign activity can be expected.

Recently the AFL-CIO endorsed them, recommending that "unions should develop the research and other capabilities needed to mount an effective corporate campaign, and organizers should be trained in the various types of corporate campaign tactics." This follows the example of several of the Federation's departments and a variety of international unions. The Food & Allied Service Trades (FAST) Department and the Industrial Union Department (IUD) are already assisting affiliates with corporate campaigns. Unions such as the Carpenters, the Steelworkers, the Auto Workers, the United Food & Commercial Workers, the Clothing and Textile Workers and the Service Employees have developed internal corporate campaign expertise.

What can be expected from this increased corporate campaign activity is unclear. It is unlikely as some proponents seem to suggest, that corporate campaigns will prove a winning strategy in almost every situation and will single-handedly reverse labor's current woes. It is equally unlikely that corporate campaigns will replace strikes and erode workplace militancy, as some detractors claim.

This article discusses the limitations and possibilities of private sector corporate campaign strategies. What can we expect from them? For what purposes and in which situations?

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