Union Policies and Productivity: Some Further Observations
The preceding chapters have analyzed in some detail the nature, extent, and general significance of union policies involving new techniques and working rules. The analysis, however, gives rise to at least three issues which call for some additional discussion. Perhaps of greatest immediate importance is the question of the over-all effect of these policies on the costs of homebuilding. While it must be emphasized that no accurate answer to this question is possible, some tentative judgments regarding at least the approximate range of magnitudes may be drawn from the evidence available.
A second issue of greater significance in the long run deals with the factors which may help to explain the varying approaches made to particular problems by different local unions at the same time, and by the same local at different times. Finally, it is of fundamental importance to attempt to analyze the trend in over-all productivity in residential construction which has resulted from all factors, including the introduction of new techniques, the varying efficiencies of labor and management, and other variables.
In order to formulate even a preliminary judgment of the cost effects of union policies, it is necessary to know the importance of each trade in the building process. Even this relatively simple problem poses difficulties, since the proportion of total labor costs or of total man-hours represented by each trade may be affected by many factors. Thus, for example, the use of drywall substitutes carpentry hours for lath and plaster