Organizing the ruins: The thin institutional geography of labour in the US midwest

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Faced with the engineered demise of collective bargaining and the rapid obsolescence of the employment compact anchored by the New Deal, the US labour movement has found new life in so-called ‘alt-labour’ organizing strategies. Encompassing innovations that range from worker centres to informal strikes to renewed community organizing, these new labour techniques provide workplace and political bargaining leverage increasingly unavailable to workers and unions who confine their advocacy to the procedural and legalistic rules of federally sanctioned collective bargaining (Dixon 2014; Doussard 2013; Garrick 2014; Lichtenstein 2014; Milkman 2013). Once studied as experimental novelties, alt-labour strategies now command scrutiny for their sustained success in propagating a string of legal reforms, including city-level minimum wage laws, wage theft legislation, and scheduling and earned sick-time laws. The emergent question is no longer whether these experiments can work - it is how, where, when and to what end they do.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook on Spaces of Urban Politics
EditorsKevin Ward, Andrew E G Jonas, Byron Miller, David Wilson
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781317495024
ISBN (Print)9781138890329
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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