Organizational Change in Union Settings: Labor-Management Partnerships: The Past and the Future

By Schuster, Michael H.; Weidman, Steve | Human Resource Planning, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Organizational Change in Union Settings: Labor-Management Partnerships: The Past and the Future


Schuster, Michael H., Weidman, Steve, Human Resource Planning


In spite of this, there is a rich history of union-management cooperation. Companies and unions have developed pragmatic solutions to significant problems affecting the workplace when traditional power strategies such as strikes, picketing, boycotts, and exercise of management rights were ineffective (Schuster, 1984). Prior to the National Labor Relations Act, cooperation took the focus of voluntary recognition and arbitration of grievances. During World War II, labor and management worked together to expedite wartime production. In the 1950s and '60s, cooperative procedures to address employment dislocation stemming from automation were widespread in shipping, mining, and meatpacking. During the 1970s and early '80s, labor-management committees, gainsharing, and joint quality of work-life efforts were widespread.

Labor-management cooperation hit its high water mark in the period from 1985 to 1995. Intense competition, combined with a notable shifting of power from labor to management, brought about a recognition of the need for change and a series of widely studied innovative experiments, from employee involvement to work redesign to innovative compensation systems and union involvement in key management decisions through partnerships. Widely publicized examples of cooperation occurred at Saturn, Nummi, Levi-Strauss, and Harley-Davidson.

In spite of such instances of cooperation, bystander or adversarial relationships between unions and management have been the norm. Bystander union-management relations are those in which the management directs the business and the union is free to criticize those decisions it does not like. In bystander unionism, the union accepts no responsibility for the success of the enterprise. Management is content not to offer any. Interaction between the parties centers on contract administration. Adversarial relations are characterized by open confrontation as to the union's right to represent the workforce and management's right to operate the business. The union openly (and behind the scenes) opposes managerial actions such as employee involvement. Management challenges union rights and responsibilities to represent the workforce. Personal relationships tend to be hostile.

In contrast, partnership relationships encourage worker and union direct action to improve the health of the business. Partnerships can exist at the strategic (corporate), site (tactical), or work site (small group) levels. Partnerships permit participation in a wide variety of operational decisions. Some partnerships go beyond this to strategic issues such as business goals, mission and values, markets, customer requirements, capital allocation and budgeting, purchasing and sourcing, human resource planning, and employee selection. Partnerships frequently address the issue of employment security.

The labor-management partnerships of the 1980s and '90s were seen as highly innovative, progressive steps in the development of labor-management relations. Labor and management sought to work together to involve both employees and the union with management to improve the health of the company in order to preserve jobs, enhance earnings, and improve safety and the quality of work life. Labor-management partnerships were seen as a mechanism for engaging the workforce to improve quality and productivity and as an effective tool for employers with strong unions to secure contractual and work rule changes that would not be obtainable in traditional negotiations. Partnerships at Levi-Strauss (see Appendix on page 51), Xerox, Saturn, Reynolds Metals, and Harley-Davidson made strong statements about the future of labor-management relations.

Most of these well-regarded partnerships are either gone or substantially modified. Saturn's (UAW) great experiment had difficulty surviving internal union politics and severe competition. The loss of its great inspirational leader, UAW Vice President Donald Ephlin, made the decline inevitable. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Organizational Change in Union Settings: Labor-Management Partnerships: The Past and the Future
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.