Worker Voice and Union Revitalization: The Role of Contract Enforcement at SEIU

Ariel Chanan Avgar, Monica Bielski Boris, Robert Bruno, Wonjoon Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article contributes to the study of union revitalization efforts by exploring the strategic underpinnings of and consideration for a restructured grievance system in a large Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local based in Chicago (hereinafter Local 1). This case study provides for a unique opportunity to examine the role that the structure and process of handling grievances plays in union efforts to mobilize members, increase membership, and pursue broader political objectives that go beyond the traditional-workplace-centered role of unions. Based on this case study, we argue that, irrespective of the associated outcome, the considerations and objectives guiding the facilitation of employee voice and workplace fairness by unions through grievance systems can be broader and more complex than existing research would suggest. More specifically, our case study documents the extent to which the rethinking of the traditional role and structure of contract enforcement is seen by union leadership as offering a potential route for broader revitalization of local unions in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-233
Number of pages25
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • SEIU
  • contract enforcement
  • grievance system
  • labor unions
  • union revitalization
  • union voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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