The Significance of Bigness in Union-Management Relations
THE General Motors situation is an outstanding example of union-management relations in a "power center." We have used the term "power center" to describe situations wherein both the union and the company, by virtue of their size and strength, have a far-reaching influence on many other union-management relationships, if not on the economy as a whole. The use of the word "power" does not imply that either the management or the union has formal or legal authority to exert influence. However, the position of prestige, influence, and leadership of the parties is such that others tend to follow the precedents set or to adjust in some way to the decisions made at the power centers.
In the automotive industry, General Motors has been over the past ten years the most influential power center and consistent pattern-setter. Yet, Ford and Chrysler have on occasion also set broad patterns in their negotiations with the UAW. In automobiles, there are three labormanagement power centers. In most cases two of the power centers -- Ford and Chrysler -- appear to have followed the basic pattern set by General Motors. But in some cases, precedents on individual issues such as wage settlements, union security and pension programs may be initiated at Ford or Chrysler. The industry as a whole, thus, tends to adjust to a complex of broad patterns set