Dunlop Commission Report

Monthly Labor Review, August 1994 | Go to article overview

Dunlop Commission Report


The Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations, also called the Dunlop Commission, recently issued its factfinding report to Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich and Secretary of Commerce Ronald H. Brown. (See Monthly Labor Review, June 1993, p. 64, for a description of the responsibilities of the Commision.)

The major findings of the Commission are as follows:

1. American labor market. The American economy, the work force and jobs, the technology at workplaces, the competitive context of enterprises, and the regulations of employment have changed greatly in recent decades. The environment for firms and workers differs markedly from what it was when the basic structure of legislation governing labor-management relations in the United States was established. The changing economic and social environment poses challenges to some aspects of established worker-management relations and has created problems in employment, earnings, and other job market outcomes for many Americans. Among the critical factors in the labor market, which provide the context for the Commission's findings, are:

* A long term decline in the rate of productivity;

* An increased globalization of economic life;

* A shift in employment to service-producing industries from goods-producing industries;

* A shift in the occupational structure toward white-collar jobs that require considerable education; and

* A decline in the prevalence of collective bargaining.

2. Employee participation and labormanagement cooperation. Considerable change is under way in many of America's workplaces, driven in part by international and domestic competition, technology, and work force developments. These external forces are interacting with a growing recognition that achieving a high productivity-high wage economy requires changing traditional methods of labor-management relations and the organization of work in ways that more fully develop and utilize the skills, knowledge, and motivation of the work force and that share the gains produced.

Since the 1980's, there has been a substantial expansion in the number and variety of employee participation efforts and workplace committees in both establishments governed by collective bargaining agreements and those without union representation:

* Where employee participation is sustained over time and integrated with other policies and practices, it generally improves economic performance;

* The trends in the work force and the economy suggest that interest in employee participation programs will increase in future years; and

* Survey data suggest that between 40 and 50 million workers would like to take part in employee participation programs, but lack the opportunity to do so. …

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