How a Strike Was Won: Rebuilding Union Capacity and Strategic Leverage in a Utility Workers Local

TitleHow a Strike Was Won: Rebuilding Union Capacity and Strategic Leverage in a Utility Workers Local
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsJuravich, Tom, Dash, Dan, Greenberg, Andrea, and Johnson, Nate
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Volume39
Issue3
Pagination202 - 222
Date Published2014///
Keywordsorganizational development, strategic campaigns, strikes, union tactics
Abstract

This article explores the determinants of a successful strike by examining the victory by Utility Workers Local 369 at NStar, a Boston-based utility company. The conventional wisdom in the labor movement is that unions are successful when they use specific tactics during a strike. This case shifts the focus back to what unions do organizationally in the years prior to the strike. Three years before going on strike Local 369, the recent amalgamation of six separate locals, undertook a massive effort to directly involve members, build a transparent organization, and reengage with the broader community and labor movement. Once on strike, the local used this increased organizational capacity to build a strategic approach, which repeatedly outflanked NStar, targeting key relationships of the firm, changing the rules of bargaining, and reframing the company’s characterization of the strike. Coupled with strong membership involvement Local 369 won a strong contract in thirteen days.