Reforming the us system of collective bargaining

Assignment Help Business Management
Reference no: EM131297949


Reforming the U.S. system of collective bargaining

Collective bargaining procedures and relationships between labor and management must reflect less conflict, more cooperation as the Nation's economy struggles to meet international competition and domestic needs


Rules as a productivity drain

Rules alone cannot ensure that an organization will perform well. They may keep it from dissolving into self-defeating open warfare, but often do not permit it to achieve its potential. An organization which depends upon adherence to a myriad of rules will always be vulnerable to competition from other organizations which operate in a more consensual and cooperative fashion, even when the latter have fewer resources. And, although an organization of rules may sometimes pull it-self together to respond to an emergency, this need not necessarily occur.

It follows, then, that primary dependence on establishing and enforcing rules is a very poor way to run an economic enterprise. The existence of a multitude of rules, many of which attempt to "stretch the work" to maintain jobs in ways reminiscent of depression-era tactics, constrains productivity and raises costs. For example, maintenance classifications may prohibit an employee from doing incidental work outside the strict limits of his or her trade; multiple job classifications may exist even where a person in a single combined classification could do the work effectively, without undue effort and stress; and, job classifications may be perpetuated although technological change has rendered the incumbents' work trivial. Other restrictions may limit the amount of work a person may be assigned, such as permitting a mechanic to open only two flanges. The location of materials and inventory may be restricted by contract or past practice to retain jobs in now-inefficient areas of the plant. In some cases, rules may prohibit employees being assigned work during breaks, and simultaneously prohibit supervisors from doing the employees' work, so that emergencies occurring at coffee breaks or lunchtime cannot be legally handled under the agreement.

Over time, rules tend to become increasingly costly and constraining as technology, materials, products, and other aspects of production change. Even rules which made great sense at first become out-of-date under changing conditions. But the rules are difficult to change, and particular employees may be further benefited the more outdated the rules become. Sometimes a company can pay a high price and "buy the rules out," or a union can persuade some workers to give up favored positions for the good of the membership as a group. But often, change cannot be accomplished without a bitter struggle between management and labor. Furthermore, the rule making process promotes a set of attitudes which are inimical to successful enterprise. The existence of the rulebook encourages both management and labor to assert their rights under the contract, rather than to attempt to work out problems. It gives rise to "shop-floor lawyers," rather than problem solvers. It fosters conflict and controversy. It undermines trust.

To a large degree, it seems that unions have become captives of their origins. Born in adversity and conflict, they continued to act as opponents of management even when their strength had become much greater. In some instances, unions have created thickets of rules in which to immobilize management, just as spiders build webs to ensnare prey. But when the thickets of rules have crippled productivity, the unions have discovered themselves to be caught alongside management in the trap. Plants have declined in competitiveness, and jobs have been lost. The unions have discovered too late that a snare is no less a snare because they have set it themselves.

A prescription for change

In a recent survey conducted by the Harris organization, a majority of the general public professed the belief that unions contribute less than they once did to the growth and efficiency of business. Not surprisingly, only 15 percent of union leaders agreed with this judgment.' The need for unions to assist companies in the light of increased foreign competition is apparent to the public. To the inhabitants of the Snow Belt, it is similarly evident that unions should cooperate with local business to stem the outflow of industry and jobs to the South and West. Public perceptions of a productivity problem are supported by Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, which show particularly sluggish growth in output per labor hour after 1973.3

Collective bargaining practiced primarily as rule making has become self-defeating for both unions and management. It interferes with management's efficient operation of the enterprise, and ensnares employees with legitimate grievances in a web of red tape. It also contributes to the vehemence of employer attempts to resist union organization drives. Study after study of U.S. managers has shown that managers fear the imposition of restrictive work practices far more than the higher wages and benefits which unionization may bring. Companies' efforts to make competitive operations out of older plants often fail because changes in current work rules take the form of additional complex rules which do not provide the flexibility needed to turn a facility around. What management really needs is fewer rules altogether, and willing cooperation from the work force. The union, for its side, needs a management sensitive to the needs of people. Both are very difficult to obtain in the U.S. labor relations environment.

As early in the week as possible, please enter into a dialogue with me and your classmates on D. Quinn Mill's writings about work rules and restrictive work practices, above.

Reference no: EM131297949

Organization evaluates itself on the wrong things

What happens when an organization evaluates itself on the wrong things? How can this happen and how can organizations work early on in the process to avoid or minimize the iss

Understand associate and leadership involvement

Students learn to understand associate and leadership involvement in creating metrics that fit the organization's culture and strategy.They will also be able to successfully

Logistics processes and supply chain management

Technology has improved logistics processes and supply chain management in the last decade. Explain how information systems or Internet technology has improved inventory man

Witnessed significant offshore outsourcing

Many industries have witnessed significant offshore outsourcing in the last decade. Critically discuss to what extent offshore outsourcing firms are able to leverage their e

Relevant leadership practice models

In this week's readings, Dana and Olson (2007) outlined relevant leadership practice models (Table 2). For our discussion, you will create your own LTC leadership model.

Describe the various types of compensation packages

Describe the various types of compensation packages that could be offered to employees ? Discuss the types of skills that an employee could develop from a firm's training pr

Characteristics of the five basic modes of transportation

Compare and contrast the operating characteristics of the five basic modes of transportation. Define the roles and responsibilities of the participants or parties of the trans

What is organizational structure

What is organizational structure and what are organizational controls? What are the differences between strategic controls and financial controls? What is the importance of


Write a Review

Free Assignment Quote

Assured A++ Grade

Get guaranteed satisfaction & time on delivery in every assignment order you paid with us! We ensure premium quality solution document along with free turntin report!

All rights reserved! Copyrights ©2019-2020 ExpertsMind IT Educational Pvt Ltd