An Analysis of the AFL-CIO’s Union Summer Program: The College Recruited Organizers’ Contributions to the Labor Movement
Creators:Hogue, Michael S.
Keywords:Labor union democracy -- Case studies
Labor union members -- United States -- Attitudes
College student development programs
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Sociology Honors Theses; 2005
This honors research project is a qualitative analysis of the college-recruited organizers' contribution to union organizing. The starting point was Steve Early's essay "Membership-Based Organizing," in which he criticizes the use of college recruited union organizers as "mobile organizers." Early believes it is rank-and-file workers who should be trained as organizers, because he believes these types of organizers are the only ones who can truly revitalize the labor movement. Specifically, Early disparages the AFL-CIO’s Union Summer program and Organizing Institute, which recruits college students to be “mobile organizers” and wherever they are needed. Early finds three reasons why college-recruited organizers are less likely to succeed. They are inexperienced, they are outsiders, and they bring unwelcome leftist and liberal ideology to the movement. This causes me to ask a few questions. Does this mean college recruited union organizers less likely to successfully organize than rank-and-file organizers? Are college-recruited organizers less experienced in organizing than rank-and-file organizers? Are they less knowledgeable about labor than rank-and-file organizers? Are college students more liberal than rank-and-file organizers and if so do these leftist ideas get expressed when union organizing? If these ideas are expressed are they counterproductive? Do college recruited students alienate workers more than rank-and-file organizers? To answer these questions I needed to experience union organizing myself as a college student. I applied for the 2003 AFL-CIO's Union Summer and was accepted. I went to Queens, New York City to do field work with the 100% rank-and-file Retail Union. In my experience with the Retail Union I made observations contrary to Steve Early's.
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