Silos or Synergies? Can Labor Build Effective Alliances with Other Global Social Movements

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:00-17:30
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
RC44 Labor Movements (host committee)
RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements

Language: English

On the defensive in the face of an increasingly aggressive global capital, labor needs allies. Operating in a “silo” – that is within carefully defined organizational and strategic boundaries that insulate worker organizations from other sorts of mobilization – is a formula for defeat. Alliances with communities and movements for democracy have always been crucial to labor’s success at the local and national levels. Alliances with other transnational social movements at the global have been more sporadic, usually limited to specific campaigns. 
Where are the most promising opportunities for building cross-issue synergies that enhance labor’s political clout along with that of other social movements? What are the obstacles to building synergistic relationships? Few would question the contributions of movements for human rights to the quest for expanding workers rights. There is already a rich literature looking at labor’s relationships with movements prioritizing gender issues and with environmental movements. But much work needs to be done before we understand why sometimes silo approaches prevail and what conditions create possibilities for synergies. What are the complementarities between labors’ organizational and ideological strengths and those of other movements? What are the strategic contradictions that make synergies elusive? 
This session seeks to bring together both work based on the analysis of specific successes and failures at building cross-movement alliances and work that seeks to offer a general analytical understanding of the foundations of synergies and silos.
Session Organizers:
Peter EVANS, University of California-Berkeley, USA and Daniele DI NUNZIO, Fondazione Di Vittorio, Italy
Chris TILLY, University of California Los Angeles, USA
Social Movement Unionism: from the IWW to Wisconsin and the World
Heather BLAKEY, University of Bradford, United Kingdom; Graeme CHESTERS, University of Bradford, United Kingdom