A comparative perspective on labor unions reveals that the best of all worlds for the workers is coordinated bargaining at thenational level and significant rank-and-file engagement at the local level. But the achievement of national and coordinated bargaining is an unrealistic goal in the foreseeable future in the United States. What American labor can do, however, is to become once again a social movement. In order for organized labor to play its critical role as a countervailing power within the American political system, there must be intensified organizing, internal democratization, increased electoral and lobbying clout, and social-movement unions willing to mobilize with others and, if necessary, on the streets.
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