Challenges and Possibilities for Democratic Grassroots Union Elections in China: A Case Study of Two Factory-Level Elections and Their Aftermath

Publisher:
United Association for Labor Education
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
The Labor Studies Journal, 2009, 34 (3), pp. 293 - 317
Issue Date:
2009-01
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In 2001 and 2002, Reebok facilitated democratic trade union elections at two of its supplier factories in China. After initial successes in one factory in bargaining with management to improve conditions, in the end the experiment failed. This article describes in detail the election process, the electionsâ aftermath, and the power dynamics of the actors involved (Reebok, the supplier companiesâ management, the workers, their newly elected trade union committees, the district-level trade unions, and the Chinese trade union federation). The article analyzes the reasons behind this failed experiment and concludes by arguing that in a new changed climate today, both within China and within the international trade union movement, the Reebok experiment is worth reexamining.
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