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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 14 (1989)

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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 14 (1989)

Participating in Management: Union Organizing on a New Terrain


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    Value of Joint Programs Underestimated
    Whyte, William F. (1989-09-01)
    [Excerpt] I am happy to comment on a provocative monograph that raises important issues for union policies and strategies. The authors make two main points: 1. Unions should be proactive in developing worker participation programs in industry and should push them beyond the shopfloor into strategic economic and technological issues. 2. As far as possible, worker participation programs should be controlled by the union. Union leaders should firmly reject programs jointly controlled by union and management. I agree with the first point and disagree with the second. I also question what I see as a bias in selecting case examples to support the Banks-Metzgar thesis. If authors are free to choose any cases to support their arguments, they can "prove" almost anything.
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    Broadening The Arena for Participation & Control
    Swinney, Dan (1989-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Andy Banks and Jack Metzgar have made a critically important contribution to untangling the concepts of participation and cooperation, in making the case for labor to be aggressive in areas historically reserved for management and to do so in a way that builds the organizing model of unionism. The concepts of "participation and cooperation" have been brought to the bargaining table in a way similar to ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans). Rather than recoil and withdraw from the discussion, the authors provide us with an approach that can effectively counter frequently narrow and self-serving management objectives with a program that furthers labor's interests.
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    Participating in Managing the Philadelphia Transit System
    Tauss, Roger (1989-09-01)
    [Excerpt] The labor movement has hurt itself in recent years with a childish tendency to elevate tactical questions to the level of principles. And nowhere more than the "principle" of militancy versus cooperation and participation. These are tactics. Their use or rejection is not a decision that should be decided by some a priori considerations of ideological purity or unity of interest between labor and management, but by what will work in a given situation—particulars of condition, time and place.
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    Dealing With Good Management
    Parker, Mike; Slaughter, Jane (1989-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Andy Banks' and Jack Metzgar's analysis of current cooperation programs is right on the mark. Their insistence on an organizing conception of unionism, union structures independent of management, and the use of worker knowledge as a critical union resource we can only echo. Under certain circumstances their proposals would help strengthen a union and avoid many of the traps that desperate unions in troubled companies often fall into. But we also suggest that applied in the wrong situations, their proposals put unions on the slippery slope to cooperationism.
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    Mobilizing for the '90s
    Bahr, Morton (1989-09-01)
    [Excerpt] CWA's general strategy for the '90s can be summarized as increasing the involvement of our members at work, in their communities, and in building our Union. Building on our tradition of industrial unionism, we continue to organize and negotiate for higher pay, benefits and job security. Additionally, as we move into the 21st Century, we need to expand our vision to include worker involvement in building meaningful worklives and careers. This broader outlook helps increase the participation of our members in mobilizing around contract goals, organizing new members, and supporting other workers in their efforts to achieve Jobs with Justice. The greater the level of participation among the membership, the more active and stronger the union.
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    Goodbye to the Management Rights Clause
    Bluestone, Barry (1989-09-01)
    [Excerpt] After the organization of the UAW, it could plausibly be argued that the union turned the game around. Indeed, by the late 1950s, the UAW could play one corporation off against another, setting as a strike target a single company while permitting the others to encroach on the market share and profits of the struck company. The strategy worked, and wages and benefits improved steadily. What changed in the 1970s was the global context. With the unrestricted flow of foreign imports into the country and the ability of domestic manufacturers to move production or parts supply offshore, the number of blue-card corporations in the auto game increased to include European and Japanese producers. But, more importantly, the number of white-card workers exploded by several million. European and Japanese autoworkers—and later South Korean and Mexican—entered the game but not as members of the UAW. The balance of power between blue and white cardholders shifted back toward the blues.
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    Participating in Management: Union Organizing on a New Terrain
    Banks, Andy; Metzgar, Jack (1989-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Seasoned organizers know that all organizing begins one-on-one at your base. The workplace is labor's base and, therefore, the key to the labor movement meeting its many challenges in the 1990s — among them, building stronger worker-to-worker and union-to-union solidarity; being broadly perceived as a champion of the public's interest; and attracting large numbers of new workers into its fold. American society cannot be made better unless there is a thriving, more powerful labor movement. And before labor can help create this better society, it must first take care of its crumbling base.