1987 volume 19(6) pages 719 – 734

Cite as:
Clark G L, Johnston K, 1987, "The geography of US union elections 5: reconceptualizing the theory of industrial unionism" Environment and Planning A 19(6) 719 – 734

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The geography of US union elections 5: reconceptualizing the theory of industrial unionism

G L Clark, K Johnston

Received 27 August 1986; in revised form 6 October 1986

Abstract. In this paper an argument is put for a reconceptualization of the theory of US industrial unionism. It reflects lessons learnt about the patterns and determinants of the electoral performance of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union and the United Auto Workers union over the period 1970 - 82. Empirically, the spatial and temporal diversity of unions' electoral performance is emphasized. Theoretically, it is suggested that unions' performances in representation elections are the product of a complex array of processes and their interrelationships. Diversity of patterns and complexity of processes makes forecasting the future of industrial unionism a risky project. Also considered are competing theories of unionism and the methodologies for analyzing union electoral performance. Based on these observations, a case is made for the necessity of a 'new' framework for understanding the geography of US unionism.

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