Organizing the Fissured Workplace: The Fight to Cultivate Collective Worker Power in an Era of Nonstandard Work

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Organizing the Fissured Workplace: The Fight to Cultivate Collective Worker Power in an Era of Nonstandard Work

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2019-11

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The goal of this dissertation is to explain variation in the organizing strategies unions in the US and Norway have pursued in response to the rise of nonstandard employment models. Nonstandard employment models, such as franchising, subcontracting and independent contracting, fissure workplaces creating ambiguities in the employer/employee relationship, barriers to employer accountability and increased worker precarity. They also make it difficult for workers to collectively organize into unions to improve their plight. Despite these challenges, union movements across advanced industrialized countries are investing in ambitious organizing campaigns to cultivate collective worker power and improve the lives of nonstandard workers. The strategies unions have embraced to organize nonstandard workers have varied widely despite common challenges. The goal of this dissertation is to explain this variation. To do this, I develop an interdisciplinary, cross-national and cross-industry study of nonstandard worker organizing campaigns. I argue that strategic variation is explained by three factors. First, differences in existing labor market institutions explain cross-national strategic variation. The labor market context incentivizes campaigns of institutional conformity in Norway and campaigns of institutional reform in the US. Second, variation in organizing responses across industries is explained by differences in the nature of workplace fissuring. Nonstandard employment models fissure workplaces in distinct ways producing unique organizing challenges. Third, subnational variation in union responses across the US is explained by differences in political opportunity structures. Ultimately, this dissertation reveals the challenges and opportunities workers face in building collective power in a rapidly changing global economy.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.November 2019. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Teri Caraway. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 160 pages.

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Franco, Lucas. (2019). Organizing the Fissured Workplace: The Fight to Cultivate Collective Worker Power in an Era of Nonstandard Work. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/211755.

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