Towards a Queerer Labor Movement: The Politics and Potential of LGBT-Labor Coalition examines the relationship between the contemporary US labor movement and LGBT workers. Through an investigation of the ways in which minoritized subjects resist injustice in our contemporary neoliberal climate, I provide a new theory social movement building. Using a combination of media analysis, ethnography, and participatory action research, I argue that the union movement is an ideal place from which to struggle for LGBT justice--through and alongside the struggle for racial and economic justice. Further, given the weakened state of organized labor in the US, I contend that labor's explicit inclusion of and attention to LGBT workers will also strengthen the union movement. In many ways, the labor movement is already doing this important work, and LGBT and labor communities are benefitting from the shift toward what some scholars and activists describe as social movement unionism. Rather than approaching oppression and discrimination through a single-issue lens, union members and leaders have developed campaigns, trainings, and strategies that acknowledge how the struggles faced by LGBT workers are connected to the struggles faced by the working-class more generally. More than just suggesting that these issues are interrelated, the coalitions I discuss have worked to point out that these positionalities are not mutually exclusive--unlike the mainstream gay rights movement, LGBT-union efforts center the fact that not all LGBT people are wealthy and white. However, there are still ways in which some facets of organized labor fail as a vehicle for social change, and through this critique, I argue that a truly liberatory social movement unionism could be possible with the guidance of radical militancy and critical queer politics.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2013. Major: Communication Studies. Advisor: Gilbert B. Rodman. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 184 pages.
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