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The Direction of Union Mergers in the United States: The Rise of Conglomerate Unionism


  • Kim Moody


Trade union mergers have become common throughout the industrial world. In the United States, since the late 1970s, these have become increasingly multi-jurisdictional. Beginning in the 1990s, the trend has been dominated by five 'conglomerate' unions, who have embraced this as a strategy for growth and increased effectiveness. This article will examine the roots of this 'conglomerate' direction and quantitatively assess the claims for greater effectiveness in finances, organizing, and collective bargaining. The tentative conclusion is that while resources and policy matter, the conglomerate merger strategy of these unions has not improved any of these functions either over time or in comparison to other unions that have put less emphasis on multi-jurisdictional mergers. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Kim Moody, 2009. "The Direction of Union Mergers in the United States: The Rise of Conglomerate Unionism," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(4), pages 676-700, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:47:y:2009:i:4:p:676-700

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Jarley & Jack Fiorito & John T. Delaney, 2000. "National Union Governance: An Empirically-Grounded Systems Approach," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 21(2), pages 227-246, April.
    2. Harry C. Katz & Rosemary Batt & Jeffrey H. Keefe, 2003. "The Revitalization of the CWA: Integrating Collective Bargaining, Political Action, and Organizing," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 573-589, July.
    3. David G. Meyer & William N. Cooke, 1993. "US Labour Relations in Transition: Emerging Strategies and Company Performance," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 31(4), pages 531-552, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thorsten Upmann & Julia Müller, 2014. "The Structure of Firm-Specific Labour Unions," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 170(2), pages 336-385, June.

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