Employer and Worker Collective Action

Employer and Worker Collective Action : A Comparative Study of Germany, South Africa, and the United States

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This book compares sources of worker and employer power in Germany, South Africa, and the United States in order to identify the sources of comparative US decline in union power and to more precisely analyze the nature of labor-movement power. It finds that this power is not confined to allied parties, union confederations, or strikes, but rather consists of the capacity to autonomously translate power from one context to the next. By combining their product, labor market, and labor law advantages through their dominant employers' associations, leading firms are able to impose constraints on labor's free collective bargaining regionally and nationally, defeating employer interests that are more amenable to labor in the process. Through an examination of these patterns of interest organization, the book shows, however, that initial employer advantages prove to be contingent and unstable and that employers are forced to cede to more far-reaching demands of increasingly organized workers.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 3 b/w illus. 12 tables
  • 1139991191
  • 9781139991193

Table of contents

Part I. Power in Theory and Context: 1. Contending theories of labor power; 2. Contextualizing workers' power; Part II. Employer Strategy and Collective Action: 3. Varieties of firm strategy: monopolization, cartelization, and concentration; 4. Varieties of employer associations: origins, development, and divergence; Part III. Workers: Outlaws, in the Law and by the Law: 5. Failed incorporation and union response; 6. Varieties of juridification; Part IV. From Postwar Golden Quarter Century to Post-Cold War Interlude: 7. The golden quarter century: revival, containment, or decline?; 8. Union and employer relations after the golden quarter century; Part V. Collective Action before and in the Global Economic Crisis: 9. From tripartism to global crisis; 10. Conclusion: doing the work of crisis without crisis?
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Review quote

'What unions can do in theory, versus what they can achieve in practice, varies too widely to be accounted for by institutional variables alone. Andrew Lawrence's theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich study of unions and employers organizations in the United States, Germany, and South Africa shows us how labor power is a relational rather than a structural property that allows the translation of resources from one domain to another. Ability and agency, rather than capacity or density, are the keys to understanding the diverse patterns of workers' collective action.' Mark Blyth, Brown University 'Employer and Worker Collective Action is a trailblazing analysis of how interrelationships among capital, labor, and the state have shaped the distinctive trajectories of the political economies of Germany, South Africa, and the United States. Further, Lawrence's claims regarding the forces, relationships, and politics of the capitalist mode(s) of production have relevance far beyond the three cases; they promise to influence future research agendas in sociology, political science and political economy.' Mark Kesselman, Columbia University 'Andrew Lawrence's Employer and Worker Collective Action steps boldly outside the norm in political science, examining a truly important question from a unique vantage point. Lawrence's analysis of the politics of labor markets and movements in both the developed and developing worlds is theoretically sophisticated, rigorously detailed, and genuinely pathbreaking. It contains invaluable resources for anyone hoping to understand labor politics in today's world.' Jason C. Myers, California State University, Stanislaus 'Andrew Lawrence's wide-ranging research on employer and worker collective action in Germany, South Africa, and the United States is a unique contribution to understanding the significance of institutional contingencies in the historical growth and decline of unions. Retaining a hopeful appraisal of the future of trade unions, this scholarly book should be an important addition to the literature on labor and comparative politics.' Immanuel Ness, Brooklyn College, City University of New York 'Andrew Lawrence has written a masterful addition to the comparative literature on labor regimes. Careful, scholarly, and comprehensive, Lawrence uses the cases of Germany, South Africa, and the United States to develop an original framework that maps the rise and decline of labor power. An important book that contributes to our understanding of the impasse that unions and labor parties confront.' Frances Fox Piven, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
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About Andrew G. Lawrence

Andrew G. Lawrence taught for several years in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics at the University of Virginia and in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, where he also served as postgraduate director of African studies. He has also held the positions of visiting lecturer and scholar in the department of study and research into African and Arab countries at the 'Orientale' University of Naples in Italy and the school of politics and social sciences at the European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy. He has written articles published in Comparative Politics, the Journal of Development Studies, Public Policy Research, and New Political Science and was awarded the Anthony Styskal, David Spitz, Ivo Duchacek, and Dankwart A. Rustow Democratization and Civil Society fellowships from the City University of New York Graduate Center, as well as the DAAD and Friedrich Ebert research fellowships.
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