Final version of article published in Labor and Industry, see Tattersall, A. 2005. There is power in coalition: a framework for assessing how and when union-community coalitions are effective and enhance union power. Labor and Industry 16(3), 97.
Abstract: Proposals for union revitalisation suggest the importance of unions reaching out to the community and the formation of union-community coalitions. Yet analysis of how this process of ‘reaching out’ can be most effective for building union power and advancing union renewal is little understood. This paper presents a framework for assessing union-community coalitions, and how different types of coalitions offer varying possibilities for enhancing the power of unions. The framework extends from ad hoc coalitions to complex integrated ‘deep coalition’ forms. I identify a series of coalition features – common interest, structure, organisational buy-in and scale – and argue that they are key determinants of coalition variation and effectiveness. I also explore how these different coalition forms provide increasing possibilities for union power, and promote possibilities for union renewal. I argue that the possibilities for union power and union transformation are increasingly likely when there is broader and deeper interconnection between unions and community organisations within the coalition form.