Southern Cities Research Project

Building a bold, progressive labor movement in the South is not only key to shifting the power balance in the United States, but the creative strategies pursued by Southern labor leaders holds lessons for reviving the labor movement throughout the country.  This research project documents central-labor-council and area-labor-federation-led power building efforts in several southern cities.

Building Power on the Texas Gulf Coast (2017)

Texas is not a conservative state so much as it is a non-voting state.  This report examines the founding of the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation and the growth of a progressive labor-community movement to transform metro Houston, the fifth largest urban area in the U.S.

  pdf Executive Summary (112 KB)

  pdf Full Report with Executive Summary (1.08 MB)


Building Power in the Heart of Texas: The Dallas AFL-CIO (2017)

Dallas, Texas conjures up far more images of corporate dominance than it does models for progressive movement-building. Yet, today the Dallas AFL-CIO has placed itself at the center of a nascent movement for progressive change in the huge Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan region. The city has a labor-endorsed majority on the city council which has passed several pieces of progressive legislation. This report explores how this momentum came about and draws lessons for labor and community leaders looking to expand progressive activism in the American South and throughout the country.

pdf Full Reporrt with Executive Summary (867 KB)


Building Power in South Florida

The Miami-Dade County metropolitan area is the eighth largest in the country. Historically, unions in the Miami area have faced steep challenges to growing their influence and membership base. But the area’s significant untapped potential for building labor and progressive power and its importance on the national political map led the AFL-CIO to target Miami as one of five Southern cities for an initial round of investment in 2015 – part of a larger effort to revitalize the labor movement in the South. Given that Miami has the largest foreign-born population of any city in the country, unlocking the power of immigrant communities will be crucial to labor’s efforts to help realize the area’s progressive potential

pdf Full Report (217 KB)


Enhancing Central Labor Councils

Educating for Change: How Labor Education Centers and AFL-CIO Bodies Can Grow and Transform Together (2016)

This report examines, in their entirety, the innovative relationships between labor education programs and their respective labor councils and state federations in five states (Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Iowa, and West Virginia). These cases include those with long-standing strong relationships and those that have had to have been recently rebuilt or rethought. In several cases the labor education centers owe their very existence to the work of state labor leaders to who helped found them and, more recently, to maintain and expand their resources. In addition, we document the role played by the UCLA labor education program in revitalizing the Orange Country AFL-CIO, as well as two key partnership programs of Cornell and the AFL-CIO in New York: the Union Leadership Institute and the New York City Capacity Building Initiative.

pdf Educating For Change (10.96 MB)

AFL-CIO Young Worker Groups Research Project Report (2013)

Based on site visits, interviews with leaders and activists and reviews of all relevant documents, the research team analyzed the diverse activities and best practices of eight young worker groups. The researchers were impressed by the young worker groups and inspired by the high level of energy and enthusiasm exhibited by the young activists. This report provides a profile of each of the young worker groups, identifies three ways these groups deliver strategic value to the labor movement, analyzes three strategic challenges facing young worker groups, and offers three broad recommendations to meet the strategic challenges ahead.

  pdf Young Worker Groups (830 KB)


Builing Power Within A State

These reports document New Alliance and other efforts by state fderations and affiliates to reorganize and build power within their states.  These reports were published between 2007 and 2009.

  pdf New York New Alliance (2007) (136 KB)

  pdf Pennsylvania New Alliance (2009) (139 KB)

  pdf North Carolina: How A Small State Federation Build Poltical and Legislative Power Without Money or Numbers (2007) (180 KB)

  pdf Building Labor's Power in California: Raising Standards and Expanding Capacity Among Central Labor Councils, the State Labor Federation, and Union Affiliates (2009) (180 KB)


Regional Power Building Case Studies

These case studies are of efforts by central labor councils and key unions to pursue power building stategies at the regional level.  The basic model consists of three legs:  developing a regional policy agenda, deep coalition-building, and aggressive political action.  The taskforce conducted the case studies between 2003-2009.  This material also fed into A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Wll Reshape the American Labor Movement by Amy Dean and David Reynolds (Cornell University Press, 2009).

  pdf Atlanta (2007) (123 KB)

  pdf Boston (2009) (111 KB)

  pdf Buffalo (2005) (196 KB)

  pdf Denver (2004/2006) (242 KB)

  pdf Houston (2004) (54 KB)

  pdf Los Angeles (2004) (81 KB)

  pdf New Haven (2008) (136 KB)

  pdf San Jose (2004) (59 KB)

  pdf Seattle (2005) (157 KB)