By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Power in Coalition: Strategies for Strong Unions and Social Change
By Amanda Tattersall (Allen & Unwin, $35.00, softcover, 209 pages)
Amanda Tattersall provides ample evidence about how it’s possible to build powerful coalitions that achieve social change, rebuild civil society organisations and revitalise unions.
However, success is a constant challenge. “Coalitions are not a panacea, but they are an important tool for promoting new political solutions,” she says. “When they are practiced in a reciprocal and respectful way, coalitions support powerful unionism.”
This book has been five years in the making. Amanda Tattersall started it when she was “perplexed by how to build powerful coalitions”.
Contrary to popular belief about big coalitions being stronger, Power in Coalition argues that “less is more”.
As an Australian union and community organiser, Tattersall is well qualified to say that a key strategy for revitalisation is building “positive-sum” coalitions, as opposed to transactional coalitions. Positive-sum coalitions build the power of unions and community organisations and also achieve social change.
“More mutual and shared relationships among unions and community organizations can also help revitalize unions internally, invigorating their political vision, campaign techniques, and membership engagement.”
In the three case studies – from Australia, US and Canada - of long-term coalitions, she explores these coalitions with the aim of analysing their strengths as well as their “internal obstacles, struggles and difficulties”.
She seeks to build on these findings, beginning with the coalitions themselves in their political context and focusing on the similarities and differences in the coalition strategies.
She uses a variety of sources such as semi-structured interviews, internal coalition and union documents, newspapers and participant observation of coalition meetings and events.
Power in Coalition is about the promise of successful coalitions and is not only a product of her intellectual interest in the labor movement, but is a result of the challenges she faced as a coalition organiser for a decade for the union movement in Australia.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.