Leadership Development and Organizing: For What Kind of Union?

TitleLeadership Development and Organizing: For What Kind of Union?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsEisenscher, M., Saltzman, G. M., and LaPorte, P.
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Date Published1999
ISBN Number0160-449x
Keywordslabor movement, leaders, leadership, organizing

This essay examines the circumstances that have elevated rebuilding the labor movement to the highest priority and yet most difficult challenge confronting organized labor today. It is the basis on which "organizing the unorganized" has become the clarion call of the New Voice reform team that assumed leadership of the AFL-CIO in 1995. But organizing for what kind of union? The author describes the attributes of three organizational archetypes: the service model or business union, the mobilization or activist model union, and the participatory or social movement union. Obviously, few existing unions fit neatly into or can be accurately described by a single construct, but as prototypes they offer a framework for analyzing unions and to distinguish the strategies associated with and the forms, role, and development of leadership within each type. It is this latter point--the nature of leadership, its relationship to the form of union, and how it can be developed in the process of rebuilding the labor movement--that is the focal point of this discussion.