[Excerpt] The Midwest Center for Labor Research has been involved, in both direct and secondary ways, in fighting dozens of plant closings. We've studied similar efforts of labor-community coalitions around the country, beginning with the Ecumenical Coalition's fight to save Youngstown Sheet & Tube in 1977. We also have several years' experience in building community-based economic development projects on Chicago's West Side and in Northwest Indiana.

This article argues that, as the crisis of manufacturing has deepened, the fight against shutdowns has accumulated a rich mine of experience and insight upon which it is now possible to wage a series of more effective struggles. It argues that, while fighting shutdowns on one front, labor must take the lead in building diverse local coalitions engaged in systematic efforts to retain and create jobs in the community. This is not only essential for immediate objectives, but can provide an opportunity for labor to begin to mount an aggressive political and economic offensive in the broad public interest.