Union Decline, Alternative Forms of Representation, and Workplace Authority Relations in the United States

Source: John Godard – University of Manitoba – Department of Business Administration, Carola Frege – London School of Economics and Political Science, November 10, 2010

From the abstract:
This paper draws on a telephone survey of 1000 workers to explore whether alternative, nonunion forms of representation appear to be filling the gap left by union decline, whether this matters to authority relations at work, and whether it may, indeed, help to explain union decline. It finds that non-union associations do not appear to be filling this gap, but that management established, non-union representation systems are twice as widespread as is union representation and are evaluated as favourably by workers. It also finds that unions appear to have positive implications for authority relations at work, as reflected in worker perceptions of security, fairness, and justice. Non-union representation systems do not in-and-of themselves appear to do so, but they tend to be part of a bundle of practices that, in combination, does. Finally, although the results suggest that these systems are often in violation of section 8(a)(2) of the Wagner Act, they bear no association with worker propensity to vote for a union.

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