Patterns of Union-Management Relations: United Automobile Workers (CIO), General Motors, Studebaker

By Frederick H. Harbison; Robert Dubin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
Collective Bargaining between Studebaker and Local 5, UAW-CIO

IT is possible to make a very accurate guess from what we now know of the management and union motivations and policies at Studebaker that the scope of collective bargaining has been almost unlimited. Reading the union contract gives no indication of the limits containing union demands. Theoretically nothing is outside the reach of the union. Practically, however, the union "knows its place" and there has been little controversy with management on the latter's function to manage.

The "problem" has always been the unit of action for both sides. The guiding principles in the solution of these problems have already been set forth in the analysis of company and union policies. The problem approach is first of all illustrated in the contract itself. The union agreement is open-ended, renewable yearly by mutual consent. It can be revised or amended at any time. The very terms of the contract are not even frozen for a fixed period of time. Yet in spite of this the agreement has a continuing identity with its first formulation in 1937.

The 1946 union contract, for example, still carried the statement, "This agreement, entered into this 21st day of May, 1937 . . . ." The significance of this phrase in the contract lies in the fact that both sides have felt that the basic document signed in 1937 was still good enough to govern their relationship in 1946. In a real

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