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Joel Stillerman (2003), « Transnational Activist Networks and the Emergence of Labor Internationalism in the NAFTA Countries », Social Science History, vol. 27, (4) ; 577-601

23 février 2003

Recent accounts of transnational activism have examined a variety of social move- ment organizations (SMOs) but have paid little attention to labor transnationalism. This article utilizes and adapts this new transnational social movements scholarship to understand contemporary labor activism in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries. Exploring the preexisting networks and intramovement cleav- ages that helped spawn labor opposition to NAFTA, it focuses on labor activists’ com- plaints under the treaty’s labor side accord. I explore how rising political opportunities associated with the treaty and its new institutions created new political arenas, targets for activists, and incentives for cross-border collaboration. The cross-border political exchanges that formed part of labor activists’ strategies to utilize these new institutions helped activists create new movement frames, transnational identities, and coalitions. While these outcomes support the findings of literature on transnational SMOs, they point to the particular dilemmas labor activists faced in confronting these issues due to their vulnerability, the status of unions as formal organizations embedded in national institutional structures, and the difficulty of imagining policies and strategies that might be effective in this new transnational sphere.

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