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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Labor-Environmental Coalition Formation: Framing and the Right to Know

  • Author(s): Mayer, B
  • Brown, P
  • Morello-Frosch, R
  • et al.

This article examines the formation of a cross-movement coalition between elements of the labor and environmental movements in New Jersey. We explain the successful formation and initial political campaign of the New Jersey Work Environment Council with an expansion of the theoretical perspective of frame analysis. We propose a model of a coalition collective action frame that offers several important insights into the active role coalition actors play in the construction of a common frame uniting union and environmental activists. Using qualitative data gathered from interviews, observations, and document analyses of two major campaigns, we argue that the coalition frame allowed new political opportunities to be created, leading to the establishment of the most sweeping right-to-know laws in the United States. We conclude the discussion of coalition framing by examining political constraints on the framing possibilities of coalitions, specifically by exploring how the discursive shift from the right to know to the right to act failed to expand the influence of the cross-movement coalition as originally expected by its members. © 2010 Eastern Sociological Society.

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