Union-community coalitions are seen as an important element of union renewal. Indeed, within US union revitalisation literature it is often noted that union-community coalitions are vital to returning unions to their social movement origins.

There is Power in Coalition: A framework for assessing how and when union-community coalitions are effective and enhance union power

Why Build Alliances?

Each organization has a particular community it serves. Your organization has specific interests and goals that matter to you and your fellow members.

For instance, local teachers union is concerned with keeping its members employed and treated fairly. A parent-student advocacy group might fight to keep a neighborhood school from closing.

Where might the interests of both groups align? Improved funding for schools and expanded classroom resources is one obvious area where interests will likely converge.

Alliance Mapping

Begin by identifying who your potential allies are. Which organizations are you already connected to or affiliated with in any way? Where might your interests overlap?

When scouting out potential alliance partners, try to understand what their motives and concerns are. What do they care about? Don’t forget that your potential community ally has concerns and objectives too.

A clear understanding of your potential alliance partner’s point of view is crucial if the relationship you hope to build with them will lead toward mutual benefit. Ultimately, your alliance “map” should identify who is where, who is related to whom, and where the potentially beneficial links are.

Using Your Alliance Map

Use your alliance “map” to recruit partners and build relationships with others in your community. Your map should also show you whether each ally you make is tactical or strategic in nature, and helps you in setting reasonable objectives for what you and your ally can achieve together.