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The Greening of Trade Unions: Factors affecting blue-collar unions action on climate and energy issues in the United States and Sweden
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Important throughout the 20th century, trade unions are an influential social actor that can affect and influence various policies, public opinion, and working standards through collective agreements, social activism, and political partnerships. Both within and extending beyond the workplace, unions have at times played a role in determining solutions to environmental issues, from health and safety standards all the way to national and international policy and solidarity activity, though this subject is rarely studied or analyzed. In particular, trade union stances and action on climate and energy issues represents an under-researched, yet important topic of analysis. Using the United States and Sweden as case studies, with analysis of two blue-collar unions in each, the research analyzes the important factors affecting choices and action regarding climate and energy matters. Within the case study approach, using a neo-institutional theoretical approach, I employed qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews, complemented with primary source documentary analysis. The analysis demonstrates that two unions (one in each country) can be described as active and two as defensive on environmental issues, respectively. The United Steelworkers in the United States and Kommunal in Sweden, both affected and acting within a particular structure, have been active at combating and seeking solutions to climate change, while linking work and environmental issues at multiple levels. Key factors such as working within a social unionism paradigm; instrumental leadership combined with multilevel work; and important mergers converge to influence and define behaviour. The United Autoworkers (U.S.) and IF Metall (Sweden), both defensive, though in their own ways, are influenced by factors including historical institutional power; regional concentration of employment; and the types of employment they represent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 80 p.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-41255OAI: diva2:329211
Life Earth Science
Available from: 2010-07-08 Created: 2010-07-08 Last updated: 2010-07-08Bibliographically approved

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