Collective Bargaining as an Instrument of Social Change

Collective Bargaining as an Instrument of Social Change

Collective Bargaining as an Instrument of Social Change

Collective Bargaining as an Instrument of Social Change

Synopsis

This provocative essay makes the case that trade unions must intervene in economic restructuring in order to halt the erosion of job quality in today's economy. Jacobs argues forcefully that collective bargaining is not merely a means to determine wages and benefits. It is a powerful social tool that can move the corporation toward more socially responsible and responsive forms. Jacobs challenges labor to be audacious in a moment of crisis and challenges corporations to be more forthright in developing and communicating employee involvement plans.

Excerpt

This is an era of union weakness. The proportion of the work force organized has declined from its peak of 35 percent in the 1950s to about 15 percent today. Much has been written about this development. Many business writers argue that the evolution of management has rendered unions less necessary than in previous years. Trade union advocates have insisted that the current weak position of organized labor is dangerous for the American economy and society. The theme of this book is that labor's strategy of negotiations is a powerful social tool which is critical to national progress, particularly when it is applied in order to transform organizations. Unions are capable of participating in transformational bargaining: negotiating democratization of the workplace and the enterprise, negotiating profound changes in the health-care system, negotiating social reform with employers and other interests on the national level, and even negotiating social revolution as in Poland and South Africa.

This volume proposes a path toward social change. I was motivated to write it by my concerns about the character of the corpo-

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