Labour solidarity in crisis? Lessons from General Motors


  • I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions and Vera Šćepanović for sharing Opel's output data. The research was financially supported by Central European University, the European Trade Union Institute and the Hans Böckler Foundation.

Correspondence should be addressed to Magdalena Bernaciak, European Trade Union Institute, Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 5 box 4, B-1210 Brussels, Belgium; email:


Why was the 2008–09 economic downturn not matched by an internationally coordinated trade union response? Drawing on the evidence from General Motors, this article argues that this was due to states' extraordinary involvement in the economy during the crisis, which provided strategic alternatives to labour transnationalism at the national level.