Technology and Union Survival: A Study of the Printing Industry

Technology and Union Survival: A Study of the Printing Industry

Technology and Union Survival: A Study of the Printing Industry

Technology and Union Survival: A Study of the Printing Industry

Synopsis

Acknowledgments List of Tables List of Diagrams Introduction Union Membership Decline Model Craft Decline Description Craft Decline Measurement Craft Union Response to Technological Change The ITU and GCIU Historical Case Studies Appendix: Data Sources and Notes to Tables Bibliography Index About the Author

Excerpt

This analysis of the decline in the unionization of the commercial printing industry, through comparison and evaluation of historical trends in craft union membership, provides a new analytical framework supported by data on craft training requirements and employment not previously available.

This work deals with the way in which advances in production technology introduce new forms of competition into the craft union labor market. In so doing, two case studies are presented showing how the International Typographical Union (ITU) and Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU) responded to that competition. This study's evaluation of these responses ascribes the decline in printing union membership to the new technology and the resistance of both the ITU and GCIU to the substitution of lower skilled labor in traditional craft functions.

Why has printing union membership continually declined since 1969? Union membership grew in the previous 25 years despite the introduction of linotype, automatic feeding, and lithographic processes. What most distinguishes the period presently under study from the previous period is the often dramatic reduction of skill required by the new printing production processes, resulting from an evolution from craft work to the self-controlled production process of photocomposition, photo-direct offset, and electrophotography.

In tracing the effects of skill reduction, this study examines the disproportionate decrease in union membership during a period of increasing printing industry employment. The combined memberships of the commercial branches of the ITU and GCIU declined from 154,700 to 99,200 in the 14-year period between 1969 and 1983. During the same period, commercial printing (SIC 275) production employment increased from 272,600 to 318,900, while industry unionization declined from 58 percent in 1969 to 31 percent in 1983.

This study draws together in a single analytical framework the interactions of production technology, occupational skill, and union policies and the effects on craft union membership. Chapter 1 presents the craft union response model as the framework for analyzing the decline in unionization. This model shows how labor union policies mediate the . . .

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