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We Are the UnionDemocratic Unionism and Dissent at Boeing$
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Dana L. Cloud

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036378

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036378.001.0001

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Communication and Clout

Communication and Clout

(p.175) 8 Communication and Clout
We Are the Union

Dana L. Cloud

University of Illinois Press

This chapter speaks to scholars in the field of communication studies, surveying literature on organizational democracy, storytelling, and worker voice. It first discusses the unique contributions of the present case study, unusual in its focus on labor unions as sites of activity and agency, to academic work on worker voice and democracy in workplace institutions. The gains won during contract struggles and strikes reveal how, ultimately, worker agency is a function of both communicative practice and economic clout. Second, it brings the author's past scholarship in rhetorical studies to bear on the union dissident activity at Boeing. This part of the chapter emphasizes the importance of a dialectical theory regarding the interaction of structure and agency. It argues that the gaps and contradictions between lived experience of exploitation and the discourses that justify or overlook that exploitation are resources for critique and action. For both organizational communication and rhetorical studies, the present case forces the recognition that worker agency is a combination of communication and clout.

Keywords:   labor unions, worker agency, strikes, labor contracts, communicative practice, economic clout, union dissident, Boeing

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