Organising citizenship at Local 890's Citizenship Project: unleashing innovation through an affiliate organisation

This article considers the problems of organisational survival, innovation, and inter-organisational partnerships for unions and for immigrant community-based organisations. The analysis focuses on the Citizenship Project, a project for assisting and organising Mexican immigrants, launched in 1995 by Teamsters Local 890 in response to the assault on immigrant rights in California. It concludes that new community-based partner organisations sponsored by existing unions can be one effective response to these problems if the participants establish and sustain an appropriate balance of autonomy and accountability. The article also traces the development of a radical and expansive notion of citizenship by the Citizenship Project, and a related set of methods that integrate organising with service delivery, labelled `citizenship work'. It recommends that non-profit tax-exempt support centres be established at labour centres, labour councils, and international unions in order to lower the costs of such innovation for local unions.