Membership to independent unionism in France Practical accounts from SUD militants [L'adhésion au syndicalisme autonome en France Récits de pratique de militants Sud]

Résumé : The goal of this article is to offer original insight into the dynamics which are specific to the rise of independent unionism. By questioning militants in one of the leading French organizations of non-confederated workers - Solidaire, Unitaire and Democratique - we attempt to identify the nature and dynamic combination of factors involved in their membership. What are thus the factors that cause a salaried worker to spontaneously join an independent union in a context where recruitment is individual and free, but also where the confederate offer is plentiful? Up to this time, this question has not really been dealt with in French literature. The attraction exercised by these union innovations remains obscure. Anglo-Saxon research devoted either to card membership prior to accreditation or to a vote is, in this way, called upon. Beyond the instability of their results, three explanations seem to result the theory of instrumentality, the theory of intention, and finally, the theory of "contextual micro-mobilization." All three theories were developed with reference to the confederate model based on quantitative measurements involving a cross-sectional sample. This methodological option does not make it possible to develop the various theses over time. For the same reasons, both the meaning the militants give to their decisions and the exact meaning of causal relations remain impossible to establish. Because of the unique characteristics of independent movements, these results must be considered as simple benchmarks for exploring the dynamics specific to their development. Recourse to a qualitative investigation based on practical accounts may make it possible to go beyond a monolithic conception of the phenomenon, in keeping with the vision of Snape, Redman and Chan (2000). This involves, at the end of an integrated approach that combines an exploratory phase, followed by one of theoretic saturation, the identification of the discursive logic of our 36 witnesses. In order to do so, data is analyzed in the development of "the episodes of a story (its sequences) with the structure of its 'characters' (its actors) in order to discover the logic of the discourse directed to its addressee (the arguments)" (Demazière and Dubar, 1997). In all, at least three original profiles for membership emerge those "conjured" from representative organizations, the "discouraged," and "first-time members." The first category is made up of actors who have left confederated unions to create a Sud section, with no transition between the two memberships. The split is followed by a period of internal dissidence then one of intense reflection as to the level of the original emotional involvement in the trade union. If the decision to leave is an individual one, the choice of Sud is, on the other hand, a collective phenomenon resulting from a combination of normative pressures and emotional involvement. The "discouraged," for their part, experienced a period of non-unionization, from two to ten years in length, between two separate memberships. The first union membership is emotional in nature. The second, with Sud, is accompanied by an instrumental motivation aiming to reduce the cognitive dissonance born of their lack of militancy. For the "first-time members," Sud presents the opportunity to progress from fatalism to a plan. Membership is motivated by but also reinforced by employer behaviour, which is judged as anti-social, and also by a moral debt with regards to a Sud delegate. This membership is taken on following difficulties encountered during the first professional integration. Personal interest and the political program both appear, on the other hand, as a priori explanatory factors. The stories which are revealed show that the process of joining independent French unionism is rarely a linear one. The explanations available in the literature are structured in an unusual manner recursive loops are observed in at least two of three categories. The plurality of the processes confirms that the established theories are more complementary than at odds with each other. These observations also reaffirm the centrality of conflict the decisions for unionization and de-unionization are observed on these occasions. The nature of the catalyst - individual, local and collective, national and collective - diverge, however, based on the prior union experiences which each member has had. These results may indicate several points of interest for research. First of all, the results improve the understanding of the choice of union orientation when the union offer is diversified, as is the case in France, but also in Portugal, in Spain, in Switzerland, etc. They also contribute to a better understanding of the process of resignation. In the third place, the results renew the analysis of taking on membership from a non-linear and multi-determinate process perspective. These conclusions contribute, in turn, to accounting for the divergences observed in those studies that look for correlation within samples studied on a global basis. In fact, the union member is difficult to summarize as a mean entity, in the statistical sense of the term, except if one sacrifices the nuances of a highly complex social reality. From an even more managerial perspective, the identification of the diversity of motivations clarifies the reasons for which Sud is difficult to understand from the employers' perspective. This variety clearly constitutes a strategic advantage in the power relationship. On this basis, the carrying out of quantitative investigations within the three segments identified constitutes a promising avenue for further research as well as for international comparisons where independent movements exist. © RI/IR, 2007.
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https://hal-normandie-univ.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02180670
Contributeur : Jacques-Olivier Catois <>
Soumis le : jeudi 11 juillet 2019 - 15:55:20
Dernière modification le : vendredi 12 juillet 2019 - 01:29:29

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  • HAL Id : hal-02180670, version 1

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Franck Biétry. Membership to independent unionism in France Practical accounts from SUD militants [L'adhésion au syndicalisme autonome en France Récits de pratique de militants Sud]. Relations Industrielles, 2007, 62 (1), pp.118-142+172. ⟨hal-02180670⟩

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