Economic Development and Sectoral Unions in China
Drawing on qualitative fieldwork in China’s Guangdong and Zhejiang Provinces, the author asks how post-socialist unions respond to worker unrest and why the development of sectoral-level bargaining has been uneven in different regions of China. While Zhejiang has had relative success in establishing the organizational infrastructure for sectoral bargaining, Guangdong has had little success despite ongoing attempts by unions. The author explains variation in sectoral-level bargaining through an analysis of the different models of economic development, which are characterized as local entrepreneurialism and global integration for Zhejiang and Guangdong, respectively. Despite having different organizational forms, unions in both places suffer from a lack of credibility and capacity to enforce contracts. Given the ACFTU’s ongoing focus on sectoral-level bargaining, however, experiments will likely continue in various regions and industries throughout China.