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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 07 (1985)

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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 7 (1985)

New Tactics for Labor


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Now showing 1 - 10 of 12
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    Quality of Worklife from a Labor Perspective: A Review Essay on Inside the Circle
    Needleman, Ruth (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt]Early union advocates of quality of worklife (QWL) programs envisioned a movement to reform the workplace and to re-educate management to recognize and reward workers for their intelligence, resourcefulness and skills. Today QWL has become almost synonymous with labor-management cooperation, a national campaign whose stated goal is economic revitalization of U.S. industries. According to business and government, cooperation is a prerequisite for restoring the United States' economic fortunes. Unions are being pressured to commit personnel and resources to promote QWL. While emphasizing mutuality of interests, business has in practice been more persuasive in its use of economic blackmail. On the one hand, corporations promise increased employee participation and a more satisfying work environment. On the other hand, they warn unions that any reluctance on their part to cooperate could translate into plant closures and "union-avoidance" programs.
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    How Bad a Deal Is Weirton Steel?
    Rosen, Corey; Lynd, Staughton (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Your issue on worker ownership was excellent. It should be a very useful document for many union people. I would like to raise two points, however.
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    Time & Timing in Corporate Campaigns: IBEW 1466 vs. Southern Ohio Electric
    Kellock, Susan (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Although it has taken almost a decade to gain formal recognition, it has finally happened. In February, 1985 the AFL-CIO announced its endorsement of corporate campaigns, and encouraged affiliates to consider their use more aggressively and more often. The endorsement appeared in The Changing Situation of Workers and Their Unions, a report prepared by AFL-CIO Committee on the Evolution of Work. While it is encouraging that the AFL-CIO has endorsed the concept, it also sends off alarms for those who have been involved in campaigns. The alarm sounds for the issue of "timeliness" in initiating corporate campaigns, and for the understanding of the time, commitment and resources necessary to assess, develop and implement them. Most campaigns have been initiated as a form of strike assistance or in response to a crisis, such as plant closures, runaway shops or union-busting. While corporate campaigns can be useful in these situations, their potential is maximized when used to bolster organizing drives or the collective bargaining process. The arguments for initiating a campaign prior to a strike or crisis are logical. A corporate campaign gives unions the power to put a company on the defensive by isolating it from the rest of its business, political and social communities. The sooner this process is set in motion, the greater the potential for averting the crisis or minimizing the damage. Early intervention of a campaign also provides a greater opportunity to build a firm foundation for the union's future. Timing the initiation of a campaign involves more than assessing the potential for a crisis. It also requires an understanding of the time unions need to prepare a campaign that can place the union on the offensive. It takes time to identify the targets and tactics that can accomplish this goal. Thousands of pages of company and government records must be analyzed. The company's community image must be assessed. The local media's treatment of the union and company must be evaluated. The potential for coalition-building must be determined. And hours upon hours of discussion must take place with workers who know best the working conditions, attitudes and practices of the company. It is extremely difficult to accomplish these tasks while responding to the immediate needs of a strike, an impasse in negotiations or a plant closure.
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    Strengths & Limits of Non-Workplace Strategies
    Mishel, Lawrence (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Corporate campaigns are increasingly used by unions to fight recalcitrant employers, and campaign tactics—like protests at stockholders meetings—are spreading. With the continuing employer assault on established unions and the tremendous difficulties facing workers attempting to organize, a further increase in corporate campaign activity can be expected. Recently the AFL-CIO endorsed them, recommending that "unions should develop the research and other capabilities needed to mount an effective corporate campaign, and organizers should be trained in the various types of corporate campaign tactics." This follows the example of several of the Federation's departments and a variety of international unions. The Food & Allied Service Trades (FAST) Department and the Industrial Union Department (IUD) are already assisting affiliates with corporate campaigns. Unions such as the Carpenters, the Steelworkers, the Auto Workers, the United Food & Commercial Workers, the Clothing and Textile Workers and the Service Employees have developed internal corporate campaign expertise. What can be expected from this increased corporate campaign activity is unclear. It is unlikely as some proponents seem to suggest, that corporate campaigns will prove a winning strategy in almost every situation and will single-handedly reverse labor's current woes. It is equally unlikely that corporate campaigns will replace strikes and erode workplace militancy, as some detractors claim. This article discusses the limitations and possibilities of private sector corporate campaign strategies. What can we expect from them? For what purposes and in which situations?
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    Economic Conversation: Converting Tanks in Indiana
    LeRoy, Greg; Feekin, Lynn (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Since the summer of 1984, the Calumet Project for Industrial Jobs has been involved in a public campaign to save the Blaw-Knox plant in the Calumet steel region of Northwest Indiana. The process of organizing the campaign for conversion of the plant has been both difficult and challenging. There is precious little American experience to draw on for such an effort, and when the campaign, to its credit, attracted support from a broad range of concerned parties, it was hard to keep labor and community interests in the forefront. Based on our trials and errors, we would like to offer some practical insights for the benefit of others who may become involved in similar campaigns. We highly recommend union and community involvement in such efforts. If working people and community groups are to gain power in saving manufacturing jobs and developing this country's future industrial policy we need to seize every opportunity for involving ourselves in local economic development decision-making.
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    A Wobbly-Bred Campaign in Minnesota
    Gagala, Ken (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt] In December 1984 Local P-9 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) launched a "corporate campaign" to restore wage cuts imposed by the George A. Hormel Company. While the campaign continues today, it has not succeeded in restoring the wage cuts. The origin and strategy of the campaign, the obstacles confronting it, and an assessment of the campaign are contained in this article.
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    In-Plant Strategies: "Running the Plant Backwards" in UAW Region 5
    Metzgar, Jack (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt]Besides the Boilermakers, few unions have accumulated much experience with "in-plant strategies." United Autoworkers Region 5, however, has piled up an impressive record of victories using tactics similar to those described in Tom Balanoff's article. In fact, the modern use of this strategy (so far as we can determine) begins with UAW Local 282's well-known victory at the Moog auto parts plant in St. Louis in 1982. Since then, other locals in UAW Region 5 have successfully used the strategy to win contracts at a Schwitzer cooling-fan plant in Rolla, Missouri, (1983) and at Bell Helicopter in Texas (1984). And this summer UAW Local 848 finally won a no-concessions contract after 15 months of in-plant struggle at LTV-Vought's aerospace defense systems plant in Grand Prairie, Texas. UAW Region 5 covers eight states in the middle of the country. Regional Director Ken Worley has supported use of this new strategy in carefully chosen situations and Assistant Regional Director Jerry Tucker has been instrumental in developing what Region 5 has come to call "running the plant backwards."
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    UE 610 Finds Another Way to Beat WABCO
    [Excerpt] UE Local 610 attracted a lot of attention in 1982 when in the teeth of the worst recession since the 1930s and as the first wave of concessions contracts was reaching its crest, it endured a six-month strike to beat concessions at Westinghouse Airbrake Co. (WABCO) in the Pittsburgh area.
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    Economic Conversation: Conversion & the Labor Movement
    Compa, Lance (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt] There is nothing mysterious about economic conversion. Broadly speaking, it is the transformation of a manufacturing process making a certain end product to another activity leading to a different end product, but using the same human and material resources involved in the earlier process. Corporations undertake economic conversion all the time. The American Standard Corp. changed one of its bathtub manufacturing plants in Macon, Georgia, into an electronics operation producing wire harnesses for rapid transit signaling systems. There was a two-year hiatus between the end of the porcelain operation and the start-up of wiring production, but the company rehired many of the former bathtub plant workers. Likewise, a Fremont, California, General Motors plant has converted from mid-size American car production to joint production with Toyota of a new subcompact model, using the same plant and many of the same employees. In recent years the concept of economic conversion has taken on a more specialized meaning among political activists, trade unionists, disarmament organizers, economists and others concerned with the direction of U.S. employment policy and foreign policy. Here, economic conversion is seen as a strategy to solve a linchpin problem for advocates of cuts in military spending and of a move away from an interventionist foreign policy: what to do about the many jobs that would be eliminated by such a radical shift in government policies.
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    New Verses For Solidarity
    Vance, Paul; Vance, Elizabeth; Vance, Lisa (1985-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Solidarity Forever is a familiar song in cement plants around the country now. One cement family—Paul and Elizabeth Vance and their 14-year-old daughter Lisa, of Bernallio, New Mexico composed some new verses to the old song to reflect their struggle.