Representing the Under-Represented: Labor Unions as Urbanists

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Persistent precarity is a fundamental, yet usually hidden and often overlooked condition of urbanism, particularly for those who represent the human labor that produces and reproduces the capitalist city. The question, then, is how do those who represent this under-represented human labor, unions, engage with and influence the underlying power structure that actually shapes the city? Labor unions simultaneously shape and are shaped by the spatial political economy of the contemporary city. This article examines this phenomenon through analysis of an illuminating case study, the powerful Culinary Union in Las Vegas. Drawing from different primary and secondary sources, this article offers several valuable insights: organized labor is significant in the spatial production of the city, urban precarity can be mitigated by advocating for the public realm, and asserting agency in the power dynamics of the city can be an effective way of influencing its urbanism.

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