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The Idea of Labour Law$
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Guy Davidov and Brian Langille

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693610

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693610.001.0001

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Beyond Collective Bargaining: Modern Unions as Agents of Social Solidarity

Beyond Collective Bargaining: Modern Unions as Agents of Social Solidarity

(p.329) 20 Beyond Collective Bargaining: Modern Unions as Agents of Social Solidarity
The Idea of Labour Law

Gillian Lester

Oxford University Press

Trade unions in both North American and Europe have long embraced—at least rhetorically, but often manifestly—participation in the civic and political spheres as part of their mission. In recent years, however, unions—especially in America—have come to be seen by many, rightly or wrongly, as pursuing their own ‘special interests’. Unions possess the technology of social mobilization, but have often (and not unreasonably) focused their resources on grassroots organizing and local bargaining strategies. At a time when unions are seeking levers for revitalization, a promising path is for them to use their mobilization skills to galvanize public sentiment around issues of universal concern. In particular, the need for a reliable social safety net to buffer economic insecurity may serve as common ground within which solidarity can take root. Exploiting unions’ capacity to facilitate social cohesion in the general society could spark a renewed sense of the mission and vitality of unions.

Keywords:   social solidarity, social cohesion, trade unions, union revitalization, social safety net

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