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Worker Resistance and Media

Challenging Global Corporate Power in the 21st Century


Lina Dencik and Peter Wilkin

With developments in media technologies creating new opportunities and challenges for social movements to emerge and mobilize, this book is a timely and necessary examination of how organized labour and workers movements are engaging with this shifting environment. Based on extensive empirical research into emerging migrant and low-wage workers movements and their media practices, this book takes a critical look at the nature of worker resistance to ever-growing global corporate power in a digital age. Situating trade unionism in historical context, the book considers other forms of worker organizations and unionism, including global unionism, social movement unionism, community unionism, and syndicalist unionism, all of which have become increasingly relevant in a digitized world-system. At a time when the labour movement is said to be in crisis, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the state of the labour movement, the future of unions, and the possibilities for challenging corporate exploitation of workers today.
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Chapter 4. The Globalising of the Justice for Janitors Movement




The impact of the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) Justice for Janitors (JFJ) campaign has been perhaps the most powerful symbol of union resistance to GFA over the past 30 years. Pioneering what its proponents regard as a more sophisticated and powerful model of union organising, JFJ has morphed into a global organising format that has led the SEIU to build global partnerships with unions in 25 nation-states as well as with the Global Union Federation (GUF) ITU (Forman, 2013a). The reasoning behind this is simple and was expressed by former SEIU president Andy Stern who argued that to fight globalised capital, unions had to go global and build alliances with each other around the world (Aguiar & Ryan, 2009). And this, in essence, is what the SEIU have tried to do.

The success of the SEIU model of organising has been built around a multi-layered strategy that places the struggle for workers on different planes: media, workplace and civil society. Andy Banks goes so far as to argue that the SEIU broke all the rules of organising and became a hybrid organisation, part union and part community group (Banks, 1991, p. 17). As we noted in chapter two, the public realm that most workers inhabit, particularly in urban areas, has become a site of continual corporate propaganda whether in everyday forms such as advertising, newspapers and television or as manifested in the ← 107 | 108...

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