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This article examines the strategies adopted by Spain's two major unions, the General Workers' Union (UGT) and the Workers' Commissions (CCOO), in response to the crisis of unemployment that has plagued Spain since the late 1970s. I argue that the UGT and the CCOO have passed through three phases during this period: (i) divided unionism and social pacts contributing to a dramatic rise in temporary employment; (ii) unity of action and resistance to further flexibilization of the labour market; and (iii) joint negotiations ending the long-standing taboo against granting concessions on job security for permanent workers. After analyzing each of these periods, I conclude that the unions' strategic choices can be explained by the institutional context in which they were operating, their search for solutions to the insider-outsider dilemma, and political learning.