The power of (the) union: trade-unionism and workplace democracy in a French recovered factory
Review of Social Economy, 2020, vol. 78, issue 3, 431-449
What happens when a trade-union becomes the main actor of the workplace democracy? Underlining the strong bureaucratization of the trade union field, studies on trade unionism seem to predict low potentials. The case of a cooperative takeover of a French company by the CGT union in the early 2010s gives us the opportunity to verify it empirically. firstly, we will see that while trade union bureaucratization allows the takeover of the company – thanks to professionalized organizers – it also constitutes an obstacle when setting up the main cooperative schemes, as shown by the lack of participation in general meetings. In a second phase, however, by placing members from each sector on the board of directors – from the reception to the printing presses and the sales department – the union sets up a ‘sociological democratization’ and thus creates a continuum of interactions between grassroots and executive board which constitute ‘worker control’ over the new management.
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