Team: Geoff Henderson

Key Question: 

When do interest groups advocate for policies alongside groups representing different constituencies?

Research Products:



A growing field of research in the social sciences examines why organizations form coalitions. Yet with a few notable exceptions, political scientists have focused relatively little on why interest groups advocate for policy proposals alongside groups representing different constituencies. As the interest groups mobilized for political action at the national and state levels have proliferated, the opportunity and the imperative for such alliances have grown.

Historically, environmental policy debates have often revolved around a perceived tradeoff between the economy and the environment. Signs are emerging, however, that this history is not destiny. Labor federations and unions have begun to participate in shaping and advocating for significant climate policies at the state and federal level. Given the longstanding discourse painting the labor and environmental movements as inherent antagonists, this shift constitutes a hard case of an advocacy alliance and a breakthrough in the struggle against climate change.

This project seeks to understand the conditions under which organized labor advocates alongside environmental groups for climate policy at the state level. It involves case studies of four U.S. states—California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—in the twenty-first century. These case studies draw on data from in-depth interviews with labor and environmental leaders as well as primary and secondary sources.