Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Community Unionism Without the Community? Lessons from Labor-Community Coalitions in the Canadian Child Care Sector

Document type Article
Author Black, Simon
Journal Labor Studies Journal
Volume 43
Date 2018 June
ISSN 0160-449X, 1538-9758
Pages 118-140


The theory and practice of community unionism has been central to discussions of alt-labor, union renewal, and revitalization, particularly in relation to union praxis at the urban or local scale. This comparative case study explores two labor-community campaigns to defend public child care services in the context of neoliberal austerity in urban/suburban space. While labor-community coalitions are a necessary—if not sufficient—condition for success, in urban/suburban contexts in which community allies are weak and municipal administrations hostile, public-sector unions must continue to play a leading role in campaigns despite the risk of being cast as defenders of sectional interests rather than of the public good. In such contexts, union involvement in community organizing is a necessary precursor to successful labor-community campaigns.