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January 1999, Vol. 122, No. 1
Cooperative provisions in collective bargaining agreements
George R. Gray, Donald W. Myers, and Phyllis S. Myers
Since the mid-1980s, there has been a growing recognition of the need for a new collective bargaining paradigm embracing an equal partnership between labor and management in the private sector. A consensus has arisen among representatives from major employers, unions, and others in the field of labor relations which holds that unions must have a role in firms strategic decisions if they are to help those firms increase their productivity and compete in the global marketplace. The new paradigm involves union participation in decisions regarding the direction of the business, including access to any financial and business records that have a role in such decisions. The result is a commitment to a unified vision of the organization and its continued growth and development. With this arrangement, unions and management would share responsibility for the success of the organization. The workplace of the future is seen to be a haven of cooperation, openness, and trust, with unions and management working toward a common goal of improved economic performance.
Can the workplace of the future really attain such a full partnership between labor and management? What progress has been made towards this new approach to collective bargaining? This article presents the results of a comprehensive analysis of union-management collective bar-gaining agreements covering 1,000 or more employees. Its aim is to determine the level of cooperation that exists today between labor and management in large unionized U.S. firms. The article develops a cooperative continuum to distinguish various levels of cooperation between the two parties. At the heart of the contemporary labor relationship model is the empowerment of workers: giving them a say in how business is conducted. The analysis that is presented investigates the areas in which workers have been given decision-making authority and measures the extent to which true partnering and mutual respect exists between labor and management.
This excerpt is from an article published in the January 1999 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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