Transnational Labor Alliances: Power, Coordination, and Why Some Succeed

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
12:30 - 2:00pm
UCLA Public Affairs | Room 3343

Presented by: Marissa Brookes| Assistant Professor, Political Science, UCR

Discussant: Kent Wong | UCLA Labor Center



About the Talk:

Labor activists are increasingly cooperating across national borders in campaigns aimed at convincing transnational corporations to improve wages, working conditions, and labor rights. Yet to date there are no systematic studies of why some transnational labor alliances succeed while others do not. This book thus develops a causal theory of success and failure in transnational labor alliances. I hypothesize that transnational labor alliances succeed only when they exercise a type of power that threatens a corporation’s core, material interests. Moreover, workers must coordinate both within their own organizations and across national borders in order to exercise power on the international scale. Using both cross-case and within-case methods of comparative analysis, I test this hypothesis through a matched-pair analysis of six recent transnational campaigns featuring alliances spearheaded by workers from Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These campaigns occurred in the shipping, retail, security services, and luxury hotel industries between 1995 and 2010. The data, which include original interviews conducted over three years of fieldwork, provide evidence that intra-union coordination, inter-union coordination, and a context-appropriate power strategy are all necessary conditions for transnational labor alliances to succeed.



About the Speakers:


Marissa Brookes is Assistant Professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside and a faculty affiliate of UCR’s labor studies program. She earned her Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University in 2013. Her research focuses on international political economy, globalization, labor politics, and institutional analysis and has been funded by the Hellman Fellows Foundation, the US Fulbright Program, and the Dispute Resolution Research Center at the Kellogg School of Management. Her 2013 article in the Labor Studies Journal won the award for Best Article from the journal’s editors and the United Association for Labor Education.    



Kent Wong is the director of the UCLA Labor Center, where he teaches courses in labor studies and Asian American studies.  He previously served as staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union. He was the founding president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the founding president of the United Association for Labor Education, and currently is vice president of the California Federation of Teachers.





This event is presented by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment; cosponsored with the UCLA Department of Political Science and the UCLA International Institute