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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 5. Fast Food Forward—From Industrial Power to Public Image




As we have argued in this book, we are seeing trends of new and revisited forms of unionism emerging, particularly amongst low-wage workers movements. The developments and initiatives within the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that were outlined in the previous chapter with regards to the janitors/cleaners campaign are indicative of the movement of experimentation we are currently witnessing in labour organisation. The janitors/cleaners’ campaign set out some fundamental shifts in how previously unorganised sectors might be incorporated into broader community and social movement related campaigns, and the possibilities for more society-based movements of worker resistance as we have seen with the advancement of the living wage campaign in the UK. Moving towards such forms of worker resistance allows for a significant role to be played by media, and particularly new media forms, as a way to create wider networks of solidarity within and between communities and groups. These trends have been revisited again, also in relation to the SEIU, in the context of the fast food workers movement that kicked off in the US in 2012. As we will see in this chapter, the fast food workers movement has moved the debate about the changing nature of worker resistance along as it has situated labour movements within the continuous narrative surrounding ‘new’ protest movements, particularly the Occupy movement, by ← 139 | 140 → foregrounding direct action, social media, and wider questions regarding social injustice (income inequality, systemic...

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