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Varieties of UnionismStrategies for Union Revitalization in a Globalizing Economy$
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Carola Frege and John Kelly

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199270149

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199270149.001.0001

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Conceptualizing Labour Union Revitalization

Conceptualizing Labour Union Revitalization

(p.11) 2 Conceptualizing Labour Union Revitalization
Varieties of Unionism

Martin Behrens

Kerstin Hamann

Richard Hurd

Oxford University Press

The chapter argues that union strength, decline, and revitalization are best understood as multi-faceted processes and furthermore, that these processes are best understood in a comparative context. The chapter offers an overview of existing comparative scholarship on union revitalization and examines the claim that unions continue to have an important function in national economies, societies, and politics. Using empirical data, conventional indicators of union strength and decline are compared in the five cases examined in the book. This chapter then develops a four-dimensional approach to study union revitalization comprising membership density, political power, bargaining power, and institutional vitality. The chapter concludes by pointing to the importance of context in analysing comparative union revitalization since the importance of each of the dimensions is likely to vary across countries given different economic, institutional, and political configurations. Furthermore, the chapter argues that union leaders retain an element of choice in deciding on revitalizing strategies.

Keywords:   union membership, union density, bargaining power, union leaders

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