Category Archives: Labor-Management Relations

Leadership and Performance of Public Employees: Effects of the Quality and Characteristics of Manager-Employee Relationships

Source: Shahidul Hassan and Deneen M. Hatmaker, Journal of Public Admin. Research and Theory, Volume 25, Issue 4, October 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Few studies in public management have assessed whether managerial leadership has any influence on job performance of public employees. This study employs a well-established theory of leadership, leader-member exchange (LMX) theory, to consider the effects of the manager-employee relationship on ratings of employee in-role and extra-role performance. It also investigates how differences in gender between the manager and employee and duration of their relationship may influence the effects of LMX on employee job performance. We examine these linkages with data from two surveys of 477 employees and 161 managers working in a large state government agency. We find that when the quality of LMX is high, employees receive higher performance ratings, and this association is moderated by difference in gender between an employee and manager and the duration of time an employee has worked for a particular manager. We discuss implications of our findings and avenues for future research for public management scholarship. We also offer suggestions for public management practice regarding how to develop high-quality relationships with employees.

Green Tape and Job Satisfaction: Can Organizational Rules Make Employees Happy?

Source: Leisha DeHart-Davis, Randall S. Davis and Zachary Mohr, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 25 Issue 3, July 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Organizational rules are the backdrop of public employee life, with research suggesting both beneficial and harmful effects to employee morale. In contrast to the traditional approach of comparing employee morale in workplaces with higher versus lower levels of rules, this study examines the relationship between specific attributes of organizational rules and job satisfaction. A combination of three organizational rule attributes is expected to increase job satisfaction: consistent rule application (which conveys procedural fairness), optimal rule control (which suggests elements of self-determination), and rule formalization (pertaining to the written quality of organizational rules). Applying structural equation modeling to survey data collected from the employees of two local government organizations (n = 1,655), we observe a significant and positive relationship between consistent rule application, optimal control, and job satisfaction, but no direct relationship between rule formalization and job satisfaction. These results suggest that job satisfaction depends more on how rules are designed and implemented rather than the extent of rules in organizational structure. Future studies will need to account for specific attributes of organizational rules to fully understand the effects on public employee morale.

Walmart and the Art of Persuasion

Source: Steven Greenhouse, The Atlantic, June 8, 2015

How America’s largest private employer convinces its employees that they shouldn’t unionize. …. With 1.3 million U.S. employees—more than the population of Vermont and Wyoming combined—Walmart is by far the nation’s largest private-sector employer. It’s also one of the nation’s most aggressive anti-union companies, with a long history of trying to squelch unionization efforts. ….

Can the NLRB Order Bad Faith Bargainers To Pay A Union’s Negotiating Costs?

Source: Scott Hochberg, OnLabor blog, May 20, 2015

The NLRB’s power to remedy violations of §8 of the NLRA is usually quite limited: it can issue cease and desist letters, order the parties to bargain in good faith, and require reinstatement and backpay for individual employees (along with several less common remedies). The Board’s authority derives from §10 of the NLRA, which the Supreme Court has interpreted as being entirely remedial; under the Court’s caselaw, the Board is not empowered to issue punitive remedies. Some have criticized this remedial scheme as overly circumscribed, allowing for little flexibility to deter willful or repeat violations of the Act. In Fallbrook Hospital Corporation v. NLRB, the DC Circuit recently opened the door for unions to recover the costs incurred while dealing with an employer that has negotiated in bad faith—at least if the violations were repeated and egregious. A discussion of the case and its meaning for labor-management negotiations follows.

Militant partnership: a radical pluralist analysis of workforce dialectics

Source: Tony Dundon, Tony Dobbins, Work Employment & Society, Published online before print March 9, 2015

From the abstract:
The sociological understandings of both cooperation and resistance at work are complex. This article contributes to knowledge about dialectic tensions concerning both collaborative and conflictual workforce orientations in the context of a ‘pre-arranged’ union-management partnership agreement. It reports unofficial workforce militancy in opposition to both management and union policy regarding a socially constructed cooperative work regime. The article advances a ‘radical pluralist’ analysis to understand the formation of worker interests and attendant workforce orientations within capitalism.

Balancing Efficiency, Equity and Voice: The Impact of Unions and High Involvement Work Practices on Work Outcomes

Source: Dionne M. Pohler, Andrew A. Luchak, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 67 No. 4, October 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Theory and research surrounding employee voice in organizations have often treated high-involvement work practices (HIWPs) as substitutes for unions. Drawing on recent theoretical developments in the field of industrial relations, specifically the collective voice/institutional response model of union impact and research on HIWPs in organizations, the authors propose that these institutions are better seen as complements whereby greater balance is achieved between efficiency, equity, and voice when HIWPs are implemented in the presence of unions. Based on a national sample of Canadian organizations, they find employees covered by a union experience fewer intensification pressures under higher levels of diffusion of HIWPs such that they work less unpaid overtime, have fewer grievances, and take fewer paid sick days. Job satisfaction is maximized under the combination of unions and HIWPs.

Labor-Management Partnerships Will Not Revive the Union Movement

Source: Chris Maisano, In These Times, Working in These Times blog, January 12, 2015

As late as 2008, it was not unreasonable to think that the stars were aligning for a long-awaited revitalization of the U.S. labor movement. The financial crisis focused popular anger on the Wall Street financiers whose speculative activities brought the global economy to the brink of collapse. The election of Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress raised labor’s hopes for the passage of an economic recovery program and long-sought labor law reforms. …. It didn’t happen. Labor law reform was sidelined in favor of health care reform, and the Republicans rolled up big electoral wins at all levels in 2010 and 2014. Despite widespread popular anger at the multi-trillion-dollar bank bailouts, the financial sector has come out of the crisis stronger, and corporate profits are at record levels. Economic inequality has continued its upward path. …. But what if the labor movement gave up on the practice of exclusive representation and embraced members-only unionism, as was common through the 1940s? What if it scrapped the winner-take-all approach and organized workers even when they didn’t have majority support? Doing so would relieve unions of the requirement to represent everybody and allow them to bargain for only those workers who voluntarily chose to be members…..

Are “Works Councils” Really Such a Good Idea for Workers and Unions?

Source: Douglas Williams, In These Times, Working in These Times blog, December 15, 2014

…There’s absolutely no doubt that if workers are going to ultimately make their own destiny that a new model or approach is needed for unions. One that has been proposed, separately by the UAW at the much-discussed Chattanooga, Tennessee, Volkwagen plant, by Harvard Law School professor Benjamin Sachs, and by labor lawyer and writer Tom Geoghegan is the implementation of works councils in the United States.

The works council model is one that is used across Europe, with the most prominent examples being in Germany, although such councils also exist in the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium. There, employees are elected to four-year terms on the works council, where they negotiate the terms of employment and workplace conditions with the employer….