Bridging the gap between class and space: U.S. worker solidarity with Guatemala.Faculty Publications
Date IssuedJanuary 1998
Date AvailableJuly 2014
AbstractIn recent decades organized labor in the United States has responded to restructuring of the global economy by increasing its commitment to international solidarity, providing moral and material support for the organizing efforts of workers abroad. The international labor solidarity strategy appears to be designed to lessen the competition among places over investment, plant location, and jobs by uniting workers in different countries on the basis of their shared class interests. Yet international solidarity programs may serve to benefit one geographically distinct group of workers over another without challenging capitalism's allocative mechanisms. I develop criteria for differentiating between the latter kind of solidarity campaigns, which I call accommodationist, and transformatory solidarity, which attempts to prevent capital from using space to weaken workers' organizations, thereby altering the labor-capital relationship in fundamental ways. I then examine the work of an organization of union members and workers in the United States committed to forming relationships of solidarity with workers in Guatemala. I look at the history, philosophy, and activities of the U.S./Guatemala Labor Education Project (US/GLEP), which provides an informative case study of the opportunities and dangers of international solidarity. The limitations of international solidarity campaigns are identified, and I suggest ways to overcome these barriers.
PublisherWiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
Creative Commons LicenseCreative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Citation InformationJohns, R. A. (1998). Bridging the gap between class and space: U.S. worker solidarity with Guatemala. Economic Geography, 74(3), 252-271. DOI: 10.1111/j.1944-8287.1998.tb00115.x