Category Archives: Labor-Management Relations

Neither Free Nor Fair: The Subversion of Democracy Under National Labor Relations Board Elections

Source: Gordon Lafer, American Rights at Work Report, July 2007

From press release:
American Rights at Work today releases “Neither Free Nor Fair: The Subversion of Democracy Under National Labor Relations Board Elections.” The report by University of Oregon political scientist Gordon Lafer, Ph.D., lays bare the realities of how unscrupulous employers undermine workers’ rights to freedom of association during government-administered union representation elections. “Anti-union employers are making a mockery of the principles governing American elections,” says Lafer. “Weak labor laws allow anti-union employers to manipulate the outcome of union elections in a manner that is inherently unfair and undemocratic.”

“Neither Free Nor Fair” details the strategies – both legal and illegal – that typically comprise employers’ efforts to deny their workers’ rights to form unions and collectively bargain. Says Lafer, “Unionbusting activity in the weeks leading up to the union election resembles practices that our government routinely denounces when performed by rogue regimes abroad.”

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Federal Labor-Management Relations Reforms Under Bush: Enlightened Management or Quest for Control?

Source: James R. Thompson, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27, No. 2, June 2007
(subscription required)

The Bush administration is promoting radical change to the labor-management relations status quo in the federal sector. Provisions of the 1978 Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute already leave the federal employee unions in a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis management. The changes by President Bush would tip the balance of power even further in favor of management. Are those changes an attempt to expand presidential control over the bureaucracy, or do they simply represent an alternative, promanagement philosophy of workplace relations? The conclusion here is that Bush has adopted a political management model of governance in which operational considerations are subordinate to control considerations.

Employee Religious Expression at Work: Blanket Bans Will Not Work, Panelists Warn

Source: Bulletin to Management, Vol. 58 no. 15, April 10, 2007
(subscription required)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s vice chair and a group of management and plaintiffs’ lawyers March 22 warned at an American Bar Association conference against the use of employment policies flatly prohibiting employees to engage in religious communication or other expression at work.

Why At-Will Employment is Bad For Employers and Just Cause is Good For Them

Source: Ellen Dannin, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 58 no. 1, Spring 2007

…The at-will regime does not exclude judges from examining (or “second guessing”) employer decisions. In addition… it ill serves employers. If this is true, then it ill serves our economy and our national interests. …There is no empirical evidence that at-will employment has a positive effect on our economy. There is evidence that an at-will employment regime does not prevent litigation. In fact, there is no evidence that an at-will regime results in less litigation than a just-cause employment regime. There are reasons to believe that employers would be better off as managers with a just-cause employment regime. Finally, but more theoretical, there is a cost to society from maintaining at-will.

The Health of the Nation: Labor, Business, and Health Care Reform

Source: Marie Gottschlak, New Labor Forum, Vol. 16 no. 1, Winter 2007

Today, health benefits are once again a major arena of labor-management strife. And once again universal calls for universal health care by labor leaders mask important differences between them over health care reform. Some labor leaders are advocating a bottom-up mobilization in support of a single-payer solution that would dismantle the system of job based benefits based on private insurance. Others are staking their health care strategy on wooing key business leaders to become constructive partners in some kind of unspecified comprehensive reform of the health system.

Human Resource Problems and State Management Performance Across Two Decades: The Implications for Civil Service Reform

Source: Richard C. Elling and T. Lyke Thompson, Review of Public Personnel Administration, December 2006, Vol. 26 no. 4

Based on the views of hundreds of managers in 10 states surveyed in 1982 and 2000, this article explores the severity of a range of human resource-related barriers to effective state management. Adequately rewarding outstanding employees, difficulty filling key staff vacancies, retaining experienced staff, disciplining low-performing employees, and—in 2000—uncompetitive pay were among the most serious impediments. Little change in the severity of various human resource-related problems occurred between 1982 and 2000, however. Despite the criticism often leveled at them, variation in civil service coverage and variation in public sector collective bargaining were typically only weakly related to the severity of particular personnel-related problems. In fact, certain problems were less serious in those states with more extensive civil service coverage or more widespread collective bargaining. There was little evidence that deregulating aspects of state human resource systems reduced the severity of personnel-related impediments.

The Psychological Contract and the Union Contract: A Paradigm Shift in Public Sector Employee Relations

Source: Thomas J. Calo, Public Personnel Management, Winter 2006, Volume 35, no. 4

This article examines the changing nature of employee and labor relations in the United States. A significant shift has occurred in the employee relations environment between the public and private sectors. As union representation in the private sector workforce has steeply declined, there had been a sharp and steady increase in third party representation in the public sector workforce. The reasons for these changes are explored.

The article goes beyond the issue of labor relations to the broader issue of positive employee relations in the workplace. Exploring employee relations from a behavioral science perspective, the article describes and discusses the psychological contract as an organizing framework for understanding and achieving positive employee relations in the workplace. The article also draws upon the author’s professional human resource experiences in the public and private sectors.

Labor Management Relations: Conditions for Collaboration

Source: Barry Rubin and Richard Rubin, Public Personnel Management, Winter 2006, Volume 35, no. 4

The failure to consider the collective bargaining relationship already established between labor and management constitutes a major deficiency in the research on collaboration, especially since labor unions are likely to play a significant role in organizational reform. The purpose of this research is to analyze the successful labor-management reform initiative in the city of Indianapolis using a model of collaboration developed by the authors.

The Next Stage in Employee Involvement: Partnership for Strategic Planning and Management

Source: Carrie G. Donald, Thomas S. Lyons, Rebecca C. Tribbey, University of Louisville, Labor-Management Center, April 2000

From the abstract:
Programs for employee involvement in management decision-making have evolved through numerous stages. Many of these programs, once implemented, did not last. However, an avenue that currently holds particular promise is that of joint strategic planning efforts. Strategic planning and its corollary, strategic management, contain advantages for lasting labor-management partnerships in areas where previous involvement efforts have been deficient. By its nature, strategic planning requires an organization to articulate and assess its most basic activities and values. Strategic planning, instead of imposing a new program on top of an existing structure, has the potential to reconstruct an organization. Often, for employee participation or a labor-management partnership to work, such fundamental change is needed. Successful implementation of strategic goals requires the understanding and support of the people most often expected to carry out those goals–the employees. In a unionized setting, joint strategic planning holds great potential for the union to form its own goals and make sure these are incorporated into an overarching plan for labor and management. In this paper, we present specific cases where strategic planning has been used to form labor-management partnerships. We attempt to show how decision-making patterns can be fundamentally changed through the experience of joint strategic planning. The ultimate goal is a lasting labor-management partnership. In this case, strategic planning and management can be instrumental in producing a sustained commitment and enhanced labor-management relations.