Social movement scholars suggest that coalitions comprise a significant and growing portion of all protest mobilizations. Such organizational collaboration is of great practical importance to the labor movement in particular, as unions struggle to succeed on their own in a difficult economic and political environment. Yet surprisingly little is known about the factors underlying the development and success of coalitions. In this article we advance literature on labor and social movement coalitions, bringing a comparative historical approach to bear on the problem and examining two influential and far-reaching labor campaigns that occurred in the U.S. South. Our argument and findings demonstrate the importance of the relative fit amongst coalition members, the vulnerabilities of collective action targets, and their interplay for coalition outcomes. We conclude by discussing the implications of the findings for labor and social movement challenges more generally.
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