Lobstermen are self-employed, and significantly contribute to the economy and identity of Maine communities. In 2012, lobster prices crashed amidst high supply, regulatory demands, and market conglomeration. Lobstermen had to take action to protect and advance their livelihoods. They decided to work with a union to do so. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) did not have a history of working with self-employed workers, but decided to support the lobstermen. Together, the lobstermen formed a cooperative and began operation of a wholesale business. The strategy that independent workers and the IAM executed over the course of four years gave lobstermen a political voice and economic power in the market.
To understand the needs of frontline or self-employed workers; identify the set of strategic and tactical options available to lobstermen and union partners; assess the importance of political power as a tool to advance economic wellbeing; explore the relevance of unions in today’s economy; and, assess if the strategy employed by the lobstermen is replicable in other sectors or places.
Appropriate for the Following Course(s)
strategy, leadership, social responsibility, labor relations
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