Strength in Networks: Employment Rights Organizations and the Problem of Co-Ordination

Charles Heckscher, Françoise Carré

Citation: Heckscher, Charles and Françoise Carré. 2006. "Strength in Networks: Employment Rights Organizations and the Problem of Co-Ordination." British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 44, No. 4.

This article examines the significance of ‟quasi-unions‟ – organisations of marginalised temporary or informal workers, as well as informal movements of established workers – and their potential for building networks with established trade unions in the USA. For most of the quasi-unions, service provision is the primary strategy, whereas advocacy has been rarer. Service provision can be seen as a means for making workers interested in the membership. Political action and pressure has been used to advocate for labour legislation that protects the rights of precarious workers. Legal action has been used to establish the status of contract workers as employees. Sometimes the organisations can apply pressure directly to the employer, and examples are given of cases where this has been successfully done to companies higher up in the supply chain, i.e. companies indirectly using the services of outsourced day labourers. It is argued that although some of these quasi-unions have made some significant achievements they remain very far from attaining enough power to make major changes in employer policies and practices, even with limited industrial or geographical scope. Therefore these movements are seen to be able to benefit greatly from establishing networks with trade unions.

Informal Economy Theme
Informal Economy Topic
Occupational group
Publication Type