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A New New Deal

A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement

Amy B. Dean
David B. Reynolds
Foreword by Harold Meyerson
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press,
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    A New New Deal
    Book Description:

    In A New New Deal, the labor movement leaders Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds offer a bold new plan to revitalize American labor activism and build a sense of common purpose between labor and community organizations. Dean and Reynolds demonstrate how alliances organized at the regional level are the most effective tool to build a voice for working people in the workplace, community, and halls of government.

    The authors draw on their own successes to offer in-depth, contemporary case studies of effective labor-community coalitions. They also outline a concrete strategy for building power at the regional level. This pioneering model presents the regional building blocks for national change. A diverse audience-both within the labor movement and among its allies-will welcome this clear, detailed, and inspiring presentation of regional power-building tactics, which include deep coalition-building, leadership development, policy research, and aggressive political action.

    A New New Deal explores successful coalitions forged in Los Angeles, Boston, Denver, San Jose, New Haven, and Atlanta toward goals such as universal health insurance for children and sensible redevelopment efforts that benefit workers as well as businesses. The authors view partnerships between labor and grassroots organizations as a mutually beneficial strategy based on shared goals, resulting in a broadened membership base and increased organizational capacity. They make the innovative argument that the labor movement can steward both industry and community and make manifest the ways in which workplace battles are not the parochial concerns of isolated workers, but a fundamental struggle for America's future.

    Drawing on historical parallels, the authors illustrate how long-term collaborations between labor and community organizations are sowing the seeds of a new New Deal.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5849-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Harold Meyerson

    One of the happiest accidents of my life was to be in the right place at the right time to see a labor movement turn a city around. The place was Los Angeles—historically a bastion of antiunion sentiment. The time was the 1990s, when I was the political editor of the L.A. Weekly and when a young labor leader, Miguel Contreras, aligned the city’s reawakening union movement with the burgeoning Latino immigrant community to create a progressive force that transformed L.A. into a solidly liberal city, and one that implemented policies to lessen the yawning gap between rich and...

  4. A Note from The Century Foundation
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Richard C. Leone
  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    This book presents a strategy for building power for working people in America’s metropolitan regions—and ultimately in the country as a whole. It is addressed to leaders and activists in the labor movement and their allies. Its authors have long been involved—one primarily as a leader, one primarily as a teacher and scholar—in the effort to revitalize the labor movement at the grassroots level. We believe that rebuilding labor’s power at the regional level is essential for rebuilding the progressive movement as a whole—and for rebuilding American democracy. Despite the many difficulties it has faced over...

  8. The Birth of Regional Power Building

    • 1 Thinking Regionally
      (pp. 21-38)

      When labor and its allies begin to build power at the regional level they are often catching up to the thinking found among important segments of the business community. Many communities have an employer-oriented group, or even several groups, that will think and plan at a regional level. These initiatives can take the form of civic-employer alliances—such as the MetroHartford Alliance in Connecticut or the Joint Venture–Silicon Valley Network in California. They can also operate more as industry-based groups that think regionally—such as the Silicon Valley Leaders Group, an association of manufacturers. Regardless of their form, these...

    • 2 The Regional Power-Building Model Emerges in California
      (pp. 39-84)

      Two metropolitan areas in California produced the first experiments of what would become the regional power-building model: San Jose and Los Angeles. We explore San Jose first in order to draw on the intimate participant knowledge of author Amy Dean. Using this rich case study as a reference point, we turn to the emergence of the same basic model along a slightly different path in Los Angeles, and power building’s subsequent spread to other parts of the state.

      Both regions have ended up with strong labor councils and key affiliates working closely with community groups through a closely linked 501(c)3...

  9. The Three Legs of Regional Power Building

    • 3 Developing a Regional Policy Agenda
      (pp. 87-125)

      While efforts from across the country offer a wealth of particulars, regional power building fully comes into place only when groups are able to develop and integrate the three legs: research and policy development, deep coalitions, and aggressive political action. The next three chapters take up each element in turn. While we draw from the experiences inside and outside of California, we do not restrict ourselves to those regions that have successfully established a fully articulated regional power-building program but also draw on the many regions where leaders have developed separate parts and continue to work to build them into...

    • 4 Deep Coalitions
      (pp. 126-158)

      “Teamsters and Turtles Together at Last”—so ran a famous headline on the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle. It reflected the cooperation among unions, environmentalists (some of whom in fact were dressed as sea turtles in Seattle), faith-based communities, women’s groups, and a wide range of community organizations that has grown steadily over the past two decades.¹ The coalition work that is central to regional power building both reflects this general trend and represents its deepening.

      Regional power building is founded upon the growing opportunity to build broad alliances. Without coalitions, power building is simply not possible. The...

    • 5 From Access to Governance: Building Aggressive Political Action
      (pp. 159-184)

      The political work of regional power building stands out for two distinct characteristics, which are explored in this chapter. First, it aims to build a rich and ongoing capacity to mobilize at the grassroots level both during and between elections. Second, electoral activity closely integrates with regional power building’s other two legs to form a larger process aimed at building capacity to govern.

      These two characteristics stand in contrast to many of the reforms seen on the liberal-to-left side of the political spectrum over the last two decades. These efforts have taken diverse forms, from organized labor’s retooling of its...

  10. The Spread of Regional Power Building

    • 6 Understanding the Spread of Regional Power Building across the Country
      (pp. 187-220)

      As the regional power-building model emerged within California, would-be organizers elsewhere in the country faced the skepticism of those who argued, “Yes, but that’s California.” That today we can identify regional power-building projects underway or being attempted in diverse parts of the country demonstrates that the basic model does not depend on conditions particular to one state.¹ Yet, the full-blown model has not emerged from every promising attempt. What can relative success and failure tell us about the conditions necessary to put the model into action? Given these conditions, what can strategic players at the national level do to best...

    • 7 Toward a National Strategy for Spreading Regional Power Building
      (pp. 221-246)

      Imagine that the pioneering regional efforts covered in this book lead to further projects in various parts of the country, that regional power building comes to encompass strong organizing in some thirty or more major urban areas in the Northwest, West, South, Midwest, and Northeast. In some states, this work leads to solid blocks of progressive champions in the state legislature. These champions articulate innovative policy reforms and a vision for the future that have been carefully developed and tested at the regional level. At the same time, all of these regions become ground zero for rebuilding union density and...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 247-260)
  12. Index
    (pp. 261-276)