Labor and Democracy in the Transition to a Market System: A U.S.-Post Soviet Dialogue

Labor and Democracy in the Transition to a Market System: A U.S.-Post Soviet Dialogue

Labor and Democracy in the Transition to a Market System: A U.S.-Post Soviet Dialogue

Labor and Democracy in the Transition to a Market System: A U.S.-Post Soviet Dialogue

Synopsis

Nowhere is the tension attending simultaneous political democratization and economic liberalization more sharply felt than in the realm of labour relations. What is happening in Soviet trade unions today? How will the emerging independent unions respond to anticipated rises in unemployment? What kind of social regulation of the labour market will be appropriate in the future? These papers from a pathbreaking US-Soviet conference on labour issues reveal a considerable diversity of views on questions whose resolution will be essential to social peace in this period of transition. Among the noted contributors are Joseph Berliner, Sam Bowles, Richard Freeman, Leonid Gordon, V.L.Kosmarskii, Alla Nazimova, Michael Piore, Boris Rakitskii, Iurii Volkov, Ben Ward and Tatiana Zaslavskaia.

Excerpt

Bertram Silverman and Murray Yanowitch

This volume draws on some of the papers prepared for a symposium on "New Directions in Worker-Management Relations" held in Moscow in June 1991. Participants included leading Soviet and U.S. scholars in the area of labor relations as well as trade unionists and managerial personnel. As Richard B. Freeman notes in his chapter below, earlier discussions of the transition of Communist-led economies to a market system have tended to downplay labor issues, focusing instead on fiscal and monetary problems. the principal objective of this symposium, by contrast, was to focus on precisely those issues that had received relatively little attention in previous discussions of the systemic changes under way in the Soviet Union -- issues related to the emergence of an independent labor movement, the impact on labor relations and work organization of the projected transition to a market economy, and the problems as well as opportunities workers were likely to confront in adapting to a labor market liberated from Soviet-style central planning.

The symposium was held in the midst of a process commonly characterized in the Soviet literature as a "social revolution." It should hardly come as a surprise, therefore, if some of the Soviet contributions convey a sense of political and social involvement, of taking sides, as it were, that is often absent in academic discussions in more "normal" environments and periods. It is obviously difficult to remain detached -- especially if one is a labor scholar -- in the midst of a modern social revolution. the significance of the Soviet papers may be more fully appreciated if we regard them as responses to two features that characterized Soviet reality at the . . .

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