Coalitions and Community Unionism: Using the term community to explore effective union-community collaboration
Union-community collaboration is an increasingly common practice in industrialised nations where union power and density have declined. Purpose: This article proposes a framework for defining and evaluating community unionism, through a definition of the term ‘community.’ Findings and originality: It defines the term community in three discrete but mutually reinforcing ways, as (community) organisation; common interest identity, and local neighbourhood or place. The term is used to then define community unionism as three discrete union strategies, and finally to examine one type of community unionism – coalition unionism. The paper identifies three elements of coalition unionism. Successful coalition practice is defined by partner organisational relationships (coalition structure, bridge brokers and coalition offices); common concern (common interest operates as mutual direct interest of organisation and members), and the element of scale (where success increases as coalitions operate at multiple scales such as the local, as well as the scale of government and/or business decision makers). Methodology: I explore this framework drawing on campaigns in Sydney and Chicago.