Strategic Position and Trade Union Power: An Analysis of Trade Union Strategies in the Automotive, Chemical and Edible Oil Sectors in Argentina, 2003-2015)


  • Clara Marticorena CEIL-CONICET/UBA
  • Lucila D'Urso University of Buenos Aires



The aim of this paper is to analyse empirically the importance of union strategies as a moderating variable between unions’ structural and associational power and their bargaining and mobilisation power. To this end, we selected three unions, one from each of three strategic industrial sectors in the Argentinian national economy – automotive, chemical and edible oils – and analysed their dynamics of collective bargaining and labour conflict in the 2003–2015 period. The research is based on a review of secondary sources (collective bargaining agreements and conflict databases) as well as primary sources (semi-structured interviews with managers, trade union leaders, worker representatives and activists). Whereas workers in each of these sectors have a similarly high degree of structural power, we observed differences among the sectors in working, wage and organisational conditions. These differences are associated with three different union strategies for building union power, which we identify as partnership, confrontational and combative.            

KEYWORDS: strategic position; trade union power; union strategies; sectoral analysis; Argentina

Author Biographies

Clara Marticorena, CEIL-CONICET/UBA

Clara Marticorena is researcher at the Centre for Research and Labour Studies of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CEIL-CONICET), and Assistant Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. Her research topics focus on the study of class power, from the analysis of working conditions, collective bargaining, labour conflict and union action. She has published the book Trabajo y negociación colectiva. Los trabajadores en la industria argentina, de los ’90 a la posconvertibilidad (Imago Mundi, 2014), as well as several papers in national and international journals. [Email:]

Lucila D'Urso, University of Buenos Aires

Lucila D’Urso is Assistant Professor of the Sociology of Work at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Buenos Aires. Her research focuses on trade unionism, social movements and labour relations in Argentina and Brazil. She has published on union strategies and labour policies in Work, Employment and Society, Latin American Perspectives and Tempo Social.  [Email:]