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January 1994, Vol. 117, No. 1
Michael H. Cimini, Susan L. Behrmann, and Eric M. Johnson
A n emerging although not yet widespread trend in labor-management relations has been an emphasis on more cooperation between labor and management and on novel approaches to resolve common problems. In some cases, the parties have reached "win-win" contracts that may lead to high-performance workplaces, with increased worker productivity, empowerment, responsibilities, and rights. The recent settlements at Northwest Airlines and at Inland Steel, Bethlehem Steel, and National Steel are examples of these types of contracts. They gave unions representation on the companies' board of directors, more financial and other corporate information, and a greater voice in how the companies are to be run.
Some of these recent "win-win" contracts and other important individual bargaining situations that occurred during 1993 are described in the sections that follow. The discussion also includes legislation, judicial and administrative rulings, and organizational changes that affected organized labor during the year.
After picking Ford motor Co. as its settlement target for the 1993 round of auto negotiations, the United Automobile Workers appeared about to sign a 6-year contract with the automaker that would guarantee fully paid health care coverage and job and income security to current employees in return for more flexible work rules and a lower starting rate for new hires. But, at the last minute, the agreement unraveled, apparently because the union believed that it would be too costly in terms of plant closings and consolidations. The ensuing settlement broke little new ground, basically preserving existing contract terms. In the eyes of some observers, the parties lost an opportunity to restructure labor costs in the industry and become more competitive with Japanese automakers and their American transplants.
This excerpt is from an article published in the January 1994 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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