|Title||Breaking the Iron Law of Oligarchy: Union Revitalization in the American Labor Movement|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2000|
|Authors||Voss, K., and Sherman, R.|
|Journal||American Journal of Sociology|
|Pagination||303 - 349|
|Keywords||bureaucratic conservatism, international unions, labor leaders, labor movement, local unions|
This article addresses the question of how social movement organizations are able to break out of bureaucratic conservatism. In-depth interviews with union organizers and other data are used to identify the sources of radical transformation in labor organizations by comparing local unions that have substantially altered their goals and tactics with those that have changed little. This analysis highlights three factors: the occurrence of a political crisis in the local leading to new leadership, the presence of leaders with activist experience outside the labor movement who interpret the decline of labor’s power as a mandate to change, and the influence of the international union in favor of innovation. The article concludes by drawing out the theoretical implications of the finding that bureaucratic conservatism can sometimes be overcome in mature social movements.