Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Janie Harden Fritz, Richard H. Thames
blue collar, brotherhood, genre criticism, genre rules, organizational identity, organizing rhetoric, sisterly, Teamsters
In line with Tim Kuhn's work on organizational communication genres, this project seeks a generic understanding of Teamsters organizing rhetoric through analysis of the unique rhetorical situation at hand: the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) organizing female members by using rhetoric that invites women to identify themselves as Teamsters. This approach reveals how Teamsters organizing rhetoric relies on reinforcing a particular organizational identity that reflects the union's ideologically conservative roots as a "bread-and-butter" labor organization dependent on the organizing principle of brotherhood while permitting newer "sisterly" understandings of what it means to be a Teamster. Thus, the organizational genre of Teamsters organizing rhetoric is a hybrid of conventional union rhetoric that organizes the traditional union population, men, and organizational change rhetoric that enables the union's gender order to transform to invite women. Teamsters organizing rhetoric both embraces and extends beyond traditional approaches to union organizing by constructively interweaving streams of rhetoric that represent historical revision of common union values as well as paradoxical understandings of what it means to be identified as a "Teamster." While being a Teamster still represents affiliation with a strong union with a macho brotherhood that offers access to the middle class, being a Teamster can also have liberal feminist or women's liberation connotations of being a nontraditional female worker with blue-collar (or pink-collar) pride. Particular "genre rules" explain how Teamsters union organizing rhetoric maintains this convergence of gendered realities into the twenty-first century.
Ruminski, E. (2006). "Teamsters are Beautiful" in the Twenty-first Century: The 'Sisterly' Organizing Rhetoric of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1131