[Excerpt] Between spring of 2008 and summer 2009, Cornell ILR Labor Programs faculty, staff, and students conducted a project to investigate and analyze several recent examples of women-focused union organizing campaigns. Our purpose was to contribute to the ongoing debates among labor and community activists about how to organize more effectively. We wanted to learn from the actual lived experiences of the women who were organizing about what they felt were effective strategies. We used as a starting point the work done by the Berger-Marks Foundation in their important study, “Women Organizing: How Do We Rock the Boat without Getting Thrown Overboard?” (2004), and the subsequent work outlining successful strategies used in women-focused union campaigns, “I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies that Promote Women Activism and Leadership In Unions” (Institute for Women’s Policy Research 2007).
The intent of the project was to answer the following questions:
1. Is there a successful way of organizing that is unique to women-focused organizing campaigns?
2. Among the seven strategies identified in the Institute for Women’s Policy Research report, which strategies are most often used, and how successful are they in ensuring the success of these organizing efforts?
3. Are there other strategies or ideas here that should be assessed, propagated, and perhaps generalized to organizing in other contexts that might help unions increase their success in organizing?
4. Are these new strategies? Or are they rooted in older models that are reemerging to challenge not only the traditional organizing practices of unions, but also the way unions view organizing and organizers’ roles?