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The future of unions

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For some 20 years now, it has been common to refer to a crisis of trade unionism. What the future holds for labor movements-or indeed, whether they still have a future-seems increasingly uncertain. For many critics (academic observers as well as trade unionists themselves), unions in most countries appear as victims of external forces outside their control, and often also of their own conservative inertia. In this article, I explore, schematically and with incautious generalizations, the pathways from path to present to future. An important focus is the choices to be made in terms of who unions represent, what interests they emphasize, how they are constituted as organizations, and how they mobilize resources for action.

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