This panel explores how the global mobility of capital and labor offers challenges and opportunities to unions. Through exploring the changing roles and ideologies of trade unions, it contributes to understandings of contemporary capitalism as created through opposed interests and social relations.
This panel seeks to explore how the global mobility of capital and labor creates new challenges and opportunities to unions worldwide. Trends including international labor migration; the depiction of safe working environments as Global North protectionism; and the increased precariousness of work in both the North and South; have forced unions to expend more energy in 'struggles over class' - divisions among those without capital, at the expense of contesting workers' (formal and otherwise) exploitation. Simultaneously, global mobility and international connectedness have enabled new strategies of worker resistance and global networks that combine the resources and expertise of multiple unions. The panel seeks to explore how unions have changed in response to increased mobility, while attempting to 'stay true' to what their members and employees perceive unionism to mean. It attempts to contribute to anthropological theory in two ways: Building upon recent advances in the anthropology of labor it aims to explore what workers want out of seemingly increasingly fragmented, unequal and uncertain work environments. It asks how and whether unions are able to assist with this and how the goals and ideologies of differing segments of the union match with those of employers, governments and even each other. It also begins a dialogue between the study of labor and recent breakthroughs in the study of capitalism. Its final scope is to make sense of contemporary capitalism as contesting ground of opposed interests and social relations.