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Why do some unions engage in special interest politics while others pursue broader social goods? In this chapter I examine the effect of global markets for capital and local political mobilization. I argue that protecting jobs requires unions to engage in coalition politics, sometimes in pursuit of social goods that have benefits beyond the interests of union members. In cases, however, of high- stakes economic development projects involving large employers, the affected unions join business-driven coalitions with narrowly economistic pro-jobs agendas. I demonstrate this argument by comparing union involvement in the politics of economic development in Seattle and Hamburg. Because the argument holds in both Germany and the United States, labors constraints and opportunities may increasingly have to do less with national differences than with the particulars of local politics and labor-business dependence.


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© Cornell University. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation
Greer, I. (2007). Special interests and public goods: Organized labor’s coalition politics in Hamburg and Seattle. In L. Turner & D. Cornfield (Eds.), Labor in the new urban battlegrounds: Local solidarity in a global economy (pp. 111-129). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.