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Labor-Management Cooperation:
Recent Efforts and Results
R eadings fro m th e M o n th ly L a b o r R eview
U.S. D e p a rtm e n t of L a b o r
L a b o r-M a n a g e m e n t S e rvic e s A d m in is tra tio n
and B u reau of L a b o r S ta tistics
D e c e m b e r 1982
LM S A P u b lica tio n 6
BLS B ulletin 2 1 5 3




The D iv is io n o f C o o p e ra tiv e LaborM a n a g e m e n t P ro g ra m s w a s c re a te d by
th e D e p a rtm e n t o f L ab o r in 1982 to
e n c o u ra g e a nd a s s is t e m p lo y e rs and
u n io n s to u n d e rta k e jo in t e ffo rts to
im p ro v e p ro d u c tiv ity and e n h a n c e th e
q u a lity o f w o rk in g life . C e n tra l to th e
D iv is io n ’s p u rp o s e is th e c o n v ic tio n th a t
c o o p e ra tiv e re la tio n s b e tw e e n th e
p a rtie s , p a rtic u la rly th o s e c re a tin g n ew
o p p o rtu n itie s fo r w o rk e r p a rtic ip a tio n in
d e c is io n m a k in g , c a n c o n trib u te s u b ­
s ta n tia lly to th e fu rth e ra n c e of th e ir
m u tu a l in te re s ts .
In itia l a tte n tio n is b e in g d ire c te d to m e e tin g
a lre a d y id e n tifie d n ee d s fo r te c h n ic a l
a s s is ta n c e and in fo rm a tio n th ro u g h o u t
th e p riv a te s e c to r. A c h ie f a im w ill be
to w o rk c lo s e ly w ith tra d e a s s o c ia tio n s ,
in te rn a tio n a l u n io n s, a re a lab o rm a n a g e m e n t c o m m itte e s , and n atio n al,
S ta te , a n d re g io n a l p ro d u c tiv ity /
q u a lity of w o rk in g life c e n te rs . In
a d d itio n , the D iv is io n w ill re g u la rly c o m p ile
a nd d is s e m in a te in fo rm a tio n on c u rre n t
is su e s and p ra c tic e s th ro u g h p u b li­
c a tio n s , c o n fe re n c e s , and w o rk s h o p s .
This v o lu m e , p u b lis h e d jo in tly w ith the
B u re a u o f L a b o r S ta tis tic s , is one
in a s e rie s o f p la n n e d p u b lic a tio n s .
F or fu rth e r in fo rm a tio n , c o n ta c t:
C h ief, D iv is io n o f C o o p e ra tiv e
L a b o r-M a n a g e m e n t P ro g ra m s
L a b o r-M a n a g e m e n t S e rv ic e s
A d m in is tra tio n
U.S. D e p a rtm e n t o f L a b o r
W a s h in g to n , D.C. 2 0 2 1 0


Labor-Management Cooperation:

Recant Efforts and Results

< 3 /

c 2 /5 ^

R eadings from the M onthly Labor Review
U.S. D epartm ent of Labor
Raym ond J. Donovan, S ecretary
Labor-M anagem ent S ervices A d m in is tra tio n .
D onald L. Dotson, A ssistant S ecretary
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Janet L. Norwood, C om m issioner
D e cem ber 1982
LM SA Publication 6
BLS Bulletin 2153


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents. U.S. Government P rinting Office
W ashington, D.C. 20402— Price $6.00

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
M ain e n t r y u n d e r t i t l e :
L a b o r-m an ag em en t c o o p e r a t i o n .
; 6)
(BLS b u l l e t i n ; 2153)
"D ecem ber 1 9 8 2 ,"
S u p t , o f D ocs, n o . : I 2 8 .1 5 6 :
1 . I n d u s t r i a l r e l a t i o n s - —U n ite d S t a t e s
—A d d r e s s e s , e s s a y s , l e c t u r e s .
2. Q u a lity
o f w ork l i f e — U n ite d S t a t e s — A d d r e s s e s , e s s a y s ,
le c tu re s .
3 . L ab o r-m an ag em en t c o m m itte e s
— U n ite d S t a t e s — A d d r e s s e s , e s s a y s , l e c t u r e s .
I n d u s t r i a l r e l a t i o n s —A d d r e s s e s , e s s a y s ,
le c tu re s ,
5* Q u a lity o f work l i f e —A d d re s s e s ,
e s s a y s , l e c t u r e s . I . U n ite d S t a t e s . Labor-M anagem ent
S e r v ic e s A d m in is tr a tio n . I I . U n ite d S t a t e s .
B u re a u o f L a b o r S t a t i s t i c s .
I I I . M o n th ly l a b o r
re v ie w .
IV . S e r i e s . V. S e r i e s : B u l l e t i n
( U n ite d S t a t e s . B u re a u o f L a b o r S t a t i s t i c s ) ;
HD80T2.5.L3 1982
3 3 1 0 1 '1 2

(LMSA p u b l i c a t i o n


Although there is a long history of labor-management
cooperation in American industrial relations, a new
chapter was begun in the 1970’s. Labor and manage­
ment in several key industries set about to reexamine
their traditional relationship and to discover anew their
interdependence. As in World War II, cooperation
developed in response to a national challenge. Unlike
the past, however, the impetus came, not from a threat
to the country’s security, but from a challenge to the
resiliency and adaptability of its economic and social in­
Once the leader in the world economy, the United
States found itself in intense competition with other in­
dustrial nations. As U.S. industry’s share of world
markets began to shrink, traditional approaches no
longer could protect, let alone enhance, the U.S. com­
petitive position. Exceptional measures were called for,
including the forging of new alliances between labor and
management to spur the growth of productivity and
preserve the economic health of their enterprises. Work­
ing within the context of collective bargaining, the par­
ties in such vital sectors as steel, autos, and communica­
tions devised cooperative arrangements to enlist more
fully the talents and energies of both groups to improve
the effectiveness of their organizations.
A second and closely related development, most com­
monly referred to under the rubric “ quality of worklife,” also took form in the past decade. Managers and
union leaders alike found themselves confronted by a
labor force whose members expected and demanded
more of their jobs and work lives. But today’s definition
of the “ more” goes well beyond historical pressures for
higher wages and better fringe benefits, or even safer
and more healthful working conditions. Workers seek
more opportunity to develop and apply their
capabilities, more flexibility in the patterning of work
and family life, and, perhaps above all, more say in how
work is organized and managed.


Although the voices heard have not always been in
unison, the underlying theme has been unmistakable:
there has been growing interest in recasting work and
work organizations in ways that take account of the
needs, abilities, interests, and aspirations of those who
“ turn out the production.” Because these innovative
ideas could lead to a labor force that is more satisfied,
more committed, and more productive, the economic
needs of the Nation and the personal needs of its work­
ing people have become inextricably intertwined.
The Monthly Labor Review has closely followed
developments in this new area of labor-management
cooperation, both in the United States and abroad. The
Review has published numerous articles by researchers
and practitioners describing the kinds of problems
employers and unions face and illustrating some of the
cooperative strategies they have invented in seeking
solutions. Twenty-eight of these articles are reprinted in
this volume, along with pertinent extracts from impor­
tant contracts, statements, articles, and laws. The ex­
perience recorded in this volume should encourage and
assist further innovation in this area of increasing na­
tional concern.
This publication was planned and assembled by
Edgar Weinberg, formerly economic adviser in the Of­
fice of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, with the
assistance of Thomas H. Roadley and William L. Batt,
Jr., of the Division of Cooperative Labor-Management
Programs in the Labor-Management Services Ad­
ministration. The staff of the bls Office of Publications
was responsible for editing and production.

John R. Stepp , Director
Office of Labor-Management Relations Services
Labor-Management Services Administration



P A R T I. PROBLEMS OF THE W ORKPLACE..................................................................................


American workers evaluate the quality of their jo b s........................................................................
Graham L. Staines and Robert P. Quinn


Worker dissatisfaction: a look at the c a u se s....................................................................................
George Strauss


Worker dissatisfaction: a look at the economic effects ..................................................................
Peter Henle


Work, stress, and individual well-being............................................................................................
Robert L. Kahn


How American workers view labor unions ....................................................................................
Thomas A . Kochan




Labor-management cooperation: a report on recent initiatives......................................................
Edgar Weinberg


Helping labor and management see and solve problems ................................................................
John R. Stepp, Robert P. Baker, and Jerome T. Barrett


How quality-of-worklife projects work for General M otors..........................................................
Stephen H. Fuller


How quality-of-worklife projects work for the United Auto W orkers..........................................
Irving Bluestone


The quality-of-worklife project at Bolivar: an assessment..............................................................
Barry A . Macy


Altering the social structure in coal mining: a case stu d y ................................................................
Ted Mills


Labor-management panels: three case studies..................................................................................
James W. Driscoll


Dynamics of establishing cooperative quality-of-worklife p ro je c ts..............................................
Edward E. Lawler III and John A. Drexler, Jr.


The process of work restructuring and its impact on collective bargaining..................................
Leonard A . Schlesinger and Richard E. Walton



Flexible schedules: problems and issues............................................................................................
Janice Neipert Hedges


Drug company workers like new schedules......................................................................................
Robert T. Golembiewski and Richard J. Hilles


The problem of job obsolescence: working it out at River W orks..................................................
Robert Zager


Union-management committees in the Federal s e c to r....................................................................
James E. Martin


Labor-management panel seeks to help laid-off State w orkers......................................................
Todd Jick


The perceptions of participants in a joint productivity program ....................................................
Anna C. G oldoff


Employee-owned companies: is the difference m easurable?..........................................................
Michael Conte and Arnold S. Tannenbaum


PART I I I . IMPROVING WORKLIFE ABROAD............................................................................


Improving working life—the role of European unions.................................................................... 104
Joseph Mire
White-collar unions and the work humanization m ovem ent.......................................................... 113
Everett M. Kassalow
Workers’ morale in J a p a n .................................................................................................................
Joseph Mire


Worker participation in West German in d u stry .............................................................................. 124
David T. Fisher
Industrial democracy in the N etherlands.......................................................................................... 129
Arthur S. Weinberg
Six American workers assess job redesign at Saab-Scania.............................................................. 132
Arthur S. Weinberg
U.S. longshoremen evaluate work conditions in R otterdam .......................................................... 134
Herbert A . Perry


'Part I. Problems
of the Workplace

Workplace problems and various efforts to measure
their dimensions are the principal concerns of articles in
this section. Graham L. Staines and Robert P. Quinn
report on the 1977 Quality of Employment Survey, the
third and last in a series conducted over an 8-year period
by the University of Michigan Survey Research Center
for the U.S. Department of Labor. A provocative
finding is a decline in selected indicators of worker well­
being, including overall job satisfaction, desire to stay
with present employer, and contentment with life in
general. At the same time, work-related problems such
as availability of fringe benefits and severity of ac­
cidents showed improvement. Two articles deal with
worker dissatisfaction: George Strauss looks at causes
and concludes that economic conditions are primary,
but intrinsic factors such as jobs without challenge can­
not be ignored, even if less important. Peter Henle ex­

amines data on economic effects such as trends in quit
rates, strikes, labor force participation, and absenteeism
and finds little evidence of significant adverse change
traceable to disaffection with work. Robert L. Kahn
reviews research findings on the adverse physiological
and behavioral effects of various stresses and points out
that laboratory situations are suggestive of conditions
imposed by many jobs. A list of guidelines is presented
for designing less stressful jobs and organizations.
Thomas A. Kochan analyzes data from the 1977 Quality
of Employment Survey regarding the perceptions of
union members about the performance of unions. While
they expected their union to give the highest priority to
internal administration and traditional bread and butter
issues, a majority also wanted their unions to expand
union activity to quality-of-worklife issues.

American workers evaluate
the quality of their jobs
They called work-related problems less serious in 1977,
but reported declines in overall jo b satisfaction,
desire to stay with present employer,
and contentment with life in general
G raham L. Staines


R obert P. Q uinn

These results confirm important connections
between life on and off the job. Changes in
employment patterns are inducing major shifts in
family life, leisure, and other activities away from
work. For example, the rise in the proportion of
working wives has installed the dual-earner house­
hold as the modal family type. This shift from
housewife to working wife has a multitude of
potential implications for life off the job: fewer
volunteers available for charity work, greater
demand for after work and weekend shopping and
business hours, steadily rising purchases of fast
foods and easily prepared foods as well as the
increasing tendency for families to eat out, and,
finally, more socializing with people from work
and less with other families in the neighborhood.
Clearly, the investigation of the interplay between
work and leisure-time activities has only begun.

A new survey designed to measure the quality of
employment in America shows that U.S. workers
have experienced declines both in job satisfaction
and in the desire to stay with their present
employers. The survey, the third conducted by the
Survey Research Center, provides an overview of
conditions of employment in the United States in
1977, as reported by workers. Data are compared
with results of surveys conducted in 1969 and
1973, thus providing trends over an 8-year period.1
(See appendix.)
The 1977 survey, for the first time, asked
questions about the relationships between worklife
and certain domains of life away from the job,
particularly the relationships between employment
and family life and between employment and
leisure activities. A third of the married workers
reported that their jobs interfered with family life
“somewhat” or “a lot.” Much of the conflict
involved time—the amount of time spent at work,
inconvenient work schedules, or uncertainty about
work schedules. Available energy for family life
was also a factor, especially for working wives with
children. Most married workers (80 percent)
reported spending at least half of their free time
with their spouses. A third of all workers said their
work interfered with leisure activities “somewhat”
or “a lot.”

Indicators off worker well-being
Following are indicators of the well-being of
workers that are known to be associated with
employment conditions.
Job satisfaction. In all three surveys, job satisfac­
tion was measured in two ways: first, with a set of
general questions phrased so the worker could
invoke any considerations of his or her choice;
second, with a series of questions about specific
aspects of the worker’s job and employment

Graham L. Staines is study director and Robert P. Quinn is senior
study director at the Survey Research Center, The University of

From the Review of January 1979


conditions (pay or hours, for example). Responses
to the general questions were averaged to form a
“general satisfaction” index. The specific responses
were indexed by topic and statistical similarity,
and were averaged to form a “specific satisfac­
tions” index. The topics included: com fort, chal­
lenge, financial rewards, relations with coworkers,
resource adequacy, an d prom otions. The overall
index com bines the “general satisfaction” and
“specific satisfactions” indexes.2 (See table 1.)
There was no change in overall jo b satisfaction
between 1969 and 1973; in contrast, there was an
appreciable drop betw een 1973 and 1977. The full
story on jo b satisfaction, however, requires sepa­
rate consideration o f the various com ponents o f
the overall jo b satisfaction index and also o f the
various dem ographic subgroups o f workers. Over
the 8-year period from 1969 to 1977, particularly
between 1973 and 1977, the specific satisfactions
index exhibited a m arked and significant decline,
whereas the general satisfaction index declined
slightly but significantly. The decrease was about
equally distributed am ong five areas—com fort,
challenge, financial rew ards, resource adequacy,
and prom otions—b u t was absent for the sixth,
relations with coworkers.
Analysis o f the decline in the general satisfaction
index requires a review o f analogous d ata from
other years and other surveys. A 1974 report
concluded that there was no evidence o f significant
changes in jo b satisfaction over the 15-year period,
1958-73.3 This conclusion was based on d ata
from 15 com parable national surveys, conducted
by four different agencies. All surveys included a
sim ilar question which asked, “How satisfied would
you say you are w ith your jo b ? ” This question was
asked in the three surveys discussed in this article.
Job satisfaction, as m easured by this question, did
not decline significantly betw een 1969 and 1977.

T a b te H.

This finding indicates the lim itations o f a singlequestion m easure o f jo b satisfaction. Despite the
considerable face validity o f this general jo b
satisfaction question, it fails to show m uch change
over periods w hen other m ore elaborate m easures
detect a substantial decline in satisfaction. This
insensitivity to change m ay be attributable, in part,
to the gross generality o f the question (because
such m easures reveal less decline than their m ore
specifically stated counterparts) and, in part, to its
distinctive w ording (because other general ques­
tions do show the decrem ent in jo b satisfaction
over time). In contrast, the indicators shown in
table 1 have a high degree o f consistency in their
representation o f change.
T he decline in jo b satisfaction has been perva­
sive, affecting virtually all dem ographic a n d
occupational classes tested. (See table 2.) Still,
there are some differences a n d similarities w orth
noting. M en, for example, reported greater de­
clines in satisfaction betw een 1969 an d 1977 than
did women. Satisfaction o f workers under age 21
was unchanged, whereas that o f older workers
changed. The decline was virtually identical for
white an d black workers, although black workers
continued to rem ain less satisfied than did whites.
Satisfaction dropped in all educational achieve­
m ent categories, but the drop was larger am ong
workers w ith a college degree. The self-employed
had a relatively slight decrem ent in satisfaction,
com pared with wage and salary employees. W ork­
ers in the higher skilled occupations (professional,
technical, an d m anagerial jobs) exhibited a smaller
decline than did those in lower skilled occupations
(operatives and laborers).

Intention to change jobs. In each survey, wage and
salary workers were asked: “Taking everything
into account, how likely is it that you will m ake a
genuine effort to find a new jo b with another
em ployer w ithin the next year?” The answers
reveal a slight shift tow ards greater willingness to
seek a different employer. In 1969, 70 percent of
wage and salary workers said th at it was “not a t all
likely” that they w ould try to find a new jo b ; in
1973, the figure was 72 percent; but by 1977, it h ad
fallen significantly to 66 percent. Therefore, as a
behavior-oriented indicator o f increasing worker
discontent, willingness to change employers dis­
closes a shift betw een 1973 a n d 1977 that is not
incom patible with the decline in jo b satisfaction
suggested by other m easures. The m agnitude o f the
shift is not great, bu t it should be rem em bered that
betw een 1973 an d 1977 the availability o f alterna­
tive em ploym ent declined significantly, an d jo b
change becam e an increasingly im practical m edi­
um for expressing discontent.

©atfistesfciT) SiradllesiSsr©, 1 S i i, 1©?3, arsd 11877

[M ean overall job satisfaction in 1 9 6 9 = 0 ]
to n
Overall job satisfaction index1 .............................
General satisfaction values .............................
Specific satisfactions values ..........................
C o m fo rt........................ ....................................
Challenge ........................ ...............................
Financial rewards ........................ .................
Relations with cow orkers.............................
Resource adequacy .....................................
Promotions .......................................................





’ 3.03

’ 2.89
’ 2.46



'The overall job satisfaction index is an equally weighted combination of the general and specific
satisfaction values, transformed arbitrarily to a mean of zero in 1969.
’Statistically significant changes from 1973 to 1977 and, in the case of comfort, from 1969 to
’The derivation of the relations with coworkers index is somewhat different for 1977 than for the
prior years, and its comparability has not yet been ascertained. However, versions of this index were
constructed for comparing 1969 and 1973 and for comparing 1973 and 1977. Neither difference was
statistically significant.


with the response “very happy” declining from 38
p ercen t in 1973 to 27 percent in 1977 a n d
“com pletely satisfying” from 23 percent to 15
percent. T he d a ta on the second com ponent
(specific m oods an d affects) are available only for
1973 and 1977; they evidence an unm istakable and
significant decline betw een these 2 years, w ith
responses in the m ost positive category dropping
by an average o f 8 percentage points.

Tabs® 2. Overall Job saffefeefflta index by demographic
and ®Q©MpafiB®5iiaB grcmp®, 1@i®8 1973, and 1 i77'

Men ............
Women, sole wage earners
Women with other wage
earners in household
Under 21 .
21-29 . . .
30-44 . . . .
45-54 . . .
55-64 . .
65 or o ld e r___
White . .
Black . . .
8 years or less
Some high school .
High school diploma
Some college
College degree ..............
Graduate education .
Employment status:
Self-em ployed..............
Wage and salary
Professional and technical
Managers, administrators,
and proprietors . . . .
Salesworkers . .
Clerical workers
Operatives . .
Laborers, nonfarm ...........
Farmers and farm managers
Farm laborers and supervisors . . .
Service workers

N u tte r




te n
satisfa c ta

















































Number Keen
respon­ s a f e
dents2 t e c t a


te n

respon- OSfiEdwrte2 te e ta

W ork-related problems
All workers were asked about aspects o f their
em ploym ent they considered to be problem s; those
who m entioned a specific problem were asked to
judge its severity. Table 3 shows the percent
reporting one problem or m ore in each o f 12
problem areas com m only m entioned. Problem
severity is represented by the proportion reporting
the problem as “ sizable” or “great.”
F rom 1969 to 1977, problem frequency varied
by direction an d degree o f change, bu t problem
severity declined consistently by small am ounts.
In ad eq u ate fam ily incom e as a problem was
m entioned significantly less frequently in 1973 an d
1977 than in 1969 (although no change since 1973);
however, in 1977, it m aintained the highest rated
severity. Problem s relatin g to the desire for
additional fringe benefits were frequently m en­
tioned and were rated relatively high in severity.
T he pro p o rtio n reporting problem s related to
occupational, handicaps rem ained constant over
the 8-year period, b u t the severity o f such p ro b ­
lems in 1977 rem ained nonsignificantly below that
reported in 1969. The results on trends in the desire
for additional fringe benefits and trends in safety
and health were anom alous because o f survey
m ethod changes in 1977.
T he frequency o f w ork-related problem s can be
considered in m ore detail if account is taken o f
certain data th at are available for 1977 b u t not
necessarily from the prior surveys. (See table 4.)
T he problem s related to earnings, incom e, an d
fringe benefits generally h a d higher rates o f
occurrence than other problem areas. The relative­
ly frequent m ention o f problem s concerning work
content, specifically w orkers reporting they h ad
skills they w ould like to use but could not and
those “overeducated” for their jo b s suggests a
prevalent concern about misfit betw een jo b re­
quirem ents an d self-appraised capabilities. U n ­
steady em ploym ent an d layoff or jo b loss were
relatively uncom m on problem s, although only
em ployed people were interviewed. In four areas
for which such questions were asked, lack o f
control over conditions very often was seen as a
problem , n o t the co n d itio n s them selves. F o r
example, lack o f control over days worked (77

'The overall job satisfaction index is an equally weighted combination of the general satisfaction
and the specific satisfactions values transformed to a mean of zero and standard deviation of 87 in
1969. Negative figures indicate deviations below the 1969 mean. Because significance indicators are
not provided, the reader should note that some subpopulations are very small and have unstable
!Number of respondents in 1973 and 1977 was weighted to provide comparability with 1969 data.

Life satisfaction. The index o f overall life satisfac­
tion contains two equally weighted com ponents.
The first, general life satisfaction, is m easured by
two questions: (1) “T aking all things together, how
would you say things are these days? W ould you
say you’re very happy, pretty happy, or no t too
happy these days?” an d (2) “ In general, how
satisfying do you find the ways you’re spending
your life these days? W ould you call it com pletely
satisfying, pretty satisfying, or not very satisfying?”
In the second com ponent, satisfaction is assessed
through eight scales representing specific m oods or
affective states th at can characterize a person’s life
(for example, interesting versus boring, full versus
em pty, and hopeful versus discouraging). Life
satisfaction declined betw een 1969 and 1977,
although the change occurred betw een 1973 and
1977. The data from the first com ponent (general
life satisfaction) display this p attern significantly,


percent to 67 percent, and medical contingency
insurance rose from 72 percent to 78 percent. The
gain was especially noticeable for two benefits
offered to women only—maternity leave with full
reemployment rights, and maternity leave with
pay. The proportion receiving these benefits
increased a significant 15 percentage points be­
tween 1969 and 1977.
These findings regarding economic benefits
available to wage and salary workers reveal two
different trends between 1969 and 1977. There was

Tafel© 3. Frequency asud s@y®rlfiy of selected work-related
probSems, 19S9, 1973, and 1977


Inadequacy of family income
for meeting monthly expenses ..................

Percent reposting
p r o to n

Percent re p u tin g
the p r o to n
as “e to b ts ”
or “great”













Desire for additional fringe
benefits, all workers........................................
Wage and salary workers receiving
at least one benefit2 ..................................













Exposure to one or more
safety and health hazards.............................



' 78




Work-related illness or injury
during last 3 years ........................................







Occupational h an d ic a p ^ )...............................







Inconvenient or excessive h o u rs..................







Age discrimination ............................................







Sex discrimination, all workers ....................
Women only2 .................................................







Race or national origin
discrimination, all workers.............................
Blacks only2.....................................................







Unsteady employment......................................







Transportation problem s.................................







Unpleasant work environment.........................







Table 4. Frequency ©! work-related pf©fel©m@ fin 1§7?
Earnings, income, and fringe benefits:
Desire for improvement of present fringe
benefits (including wage and salary workers
receiving at least one benefit) .............................
Desire for additional fringe benefits
(includes wage and salaried workers
receiving at least one benefit) .............................
Earns less than deserved
compared to others doing similar work ............
Inadequacy of family income
for meeting monthly expenses .............................
Safety and health hazards:
Exposed to one or more
safety and health h a z a rd ........................................
Not informed about dangerous or unhealthy
conditions (includes wage and salary
workers only) .............................................................
Work-reiated illness or injury during
last 3 years ...............................................................
Occupational h a n d icap ^ )..........................................
Work schedule:
Difficult to get work days changed ......................
Difficult to get work hours changed ....................
Inconvenient or excessive ho u rs.............................
Difficult to take time off for personal
matters ........................................................................
Hours do not suit .......................................................
Employer determines overtime and worker
cannot refuse (includes wags and salary
workers who work some overtime) ....................
Days do not suit .........................................................
Work content:
Difficult to get duties changed ...............................
Feeling that time drags at w o r k .............................
Skills underutilized in present j o b ...........................
"Overeducated” for j o b ............................................
Conscience violated by required job d u tie s ___
Substandard quality of product or service
provided ............................................................... ..
Low value of present job skills
5 years hence ...........................................................
Job mobility and security:
Shortage of jobs in worker's line of work
(including only those not reporting a shortage
of workers with their s k ills )...................................
Stake in present job too great to change
jobs ..............................................................................
Difficult to find another job
with similar pay .........................................................
Likely to lose job in next year ...............................
Unsteady employment................................................
Laid off in last year ...................................................
Other problems:
Inadk?uat6 time for leisure a c M is s ....................
Transportation problem s............................................
Unpleasant work environment .................................
Interference between work and family/ life
(includes only workers with spouse or
children 17 years or younger in
household) .................................................................
Interference between work and leisure ................
Child care cost problems (includes only
workers who used a child care arrangement .
Problems with work schedules caused by
child care arrangements (includes
only workers who used a child
care arrangem ent).....................................................

'The 1969 and 1973 data are not comparable to those from 1977.
'The percentage Is based on all workers in this subsample.
!N < 100 in 1969 or weighted N < 1 4 0 in 1973 or 1977.

percent) was a problem more frequently than was
working on days that did not suit the worker (12
percent), and lack of control over own job
assignment (54 percent) was a more frequent
problem than not being able to use one’s skills in
present job assignment (36 percent). Also, 42
percent said it would be difficult to find a job
similar to the one they have, but only 15 percent
said they were likely to lose their job in the next
Earnings, income, and fringe benefits. The three
surveys reveal only limited changes in levels and
adequacy of income. Adjusted for inflation, levels
of family income increased somewhat between
1969 and 1973 and then decreased between 1973
and 1977. Similarly adjusted figures for job
earnings showed little change between 1969 and
1973, but declined between 1973 and 1977. As
judged by workers, inadequacy of family income
for meeting monthly expenses declined sig­
nificantly between 1969 and 1973, with no change
thereafter. Inadequacy of family income for living
comfortably remained virtually constant over the
8-year span.
Between 1969 and 1977, there was a modest but
significant gain in the proportion of wage and
salary workers reporting the availability of various
fringe benefits. For example, between 1969 and
1977 the proportion with paid vacations rose from
74 percent to 81 percent, those with a retirement
program other than social security rose from 61

Number el
ro sp m to ife'

Percent reporting
p r o to n









































'Number of respondents weighted to provide comparability with earlier surveys. (See appendix.)


3 years, they had experienced any illnesses or
injuries that they thought had been caused or
made more severe by any job held during that
period. The frequency of such reported illnesses or
injuries changed little from 1969 to 1977; nonethe­
less, workers in 1977 rated such illnesses or injuries
as somewhat less severe and were less likely to
report missing more than 2 weeks of work as a
Although a casual examination of the data
seems to indicate dramatic changes in the frequen­
cy of various safety and health hazards, these
changes, in part, represent only a change in
measurement methods. In both 1969 and 1973,
workers were asked an open-end question about
safety and health hazards: “Does your job at any
time expose you to what you feel are physical
dangers or unhealthy conditions?” The 1977
survey, however, asked the worker to report
exposure to each of 13 specific hazards (plus a
residual category for any other hazards). The
open-end and close-end procedures produce sub­
stantially different estimates of the prevalence of
safety hazards, with the close-end approach sug­
gesting a much higher rate of occurrence.
The 1977 survey collected specific information
on frequency and severity of 13 presumably
hazardous conditions on the job. The four hazards
most frequently reported were air pollution (cited
by 40 percent of the workers), fire or shock (30
percent), noise (30 percent)', and dangerous chemi­
cals (29 percent). However, these hazards are not
all regarded as particularly severe by the workers
exposed to them. Noise was among the highest
ranked hazards (40 percent of the workers exposed
described it as a “sizable” or “great” problem), and
air pollution ranked in the middle (32 percent);
fire or shock and dangerous chemicals were
regarded as less severe (21 percent and 18 percent,
The 1977 survey also generated an additional
finding that underscores the salience to workers of
issues involving safety and health. The 1977
interview schedule included questions concerning
how much say workers should have about workrelated decisions, such as safety equipment and
practices, how the work is done, the wages and
salaries paid, the particular days and hours of
work, and hiring or layoffs. The respondents
singled out safety equipment and practices as the
area in which workers should have the greatest say.
In fact, 76 percent of respondents believed that
workers should have “complete say” or “a lot of
say” regarding safety decisions. No other category
of decision produced a figure over 41 percent.

no gain over time in direct monetary returns, but
fairly steady gains in fringe benefits. Such findings
indicate that workers may have been exchanging
additional pay for more fringe benefits.
The 1977 interview schedule included a question
about the tradeoff between pay and other job
returns. Workers were asked whether they would
prefer a 10-percent pay raise or some other
improvement in their conditions of employment
(such as more interesting work, more comfortable
working conditions, better fringe benefits, a shorter
workweek, or greater job security). About one-half
of the respondents indicated they favored more
fringe benefits over additional earnings. Wage and
salary workers were frequently willing to trade
increments in pay for three economic benefits:
better retirement benefits (54 percent preferred an
improvement in such benefits over a pay increase),
more paid vacation days (48 percent), and better
medical insurance benefits (47 percent). It is likely
that increases in the total economic package over
the last 8 years have been in the form of more
fringe benefits rather than additional earnings.
The 1977 survey permits a detailed examination
of how workers evaluate 18 fringe benefits. Table 5
presents five items of information on each benefit:
the percent of workers to whom it is available, the
percent receiving the benefit who describe it as
most important, the percent who describe it as
least important, and the percent saying they would
like to see the benefit improved. The fifth item
concerns fringe benefits that workers do not
receive but would like to; for each such benefit, the
column records the percent of all mentions (not of
all persons) that refer to this benefit.
The data reveal considerable concern by work­
ers over their current fringe benefits. More than
half of the workers wanted improvement in some
of their fringe benefits. Of these, large percentages
desired improvements in widely available benefits:
51 percent in the case of medical contingency
insurance, 42 percent for retirement programs, and
28 percent for paid vacation. More than a third of
those with dental benefits wished them to be
improved, and 22 percent of all mentions of
desired additional benefits referred to a dental
program. Additional data indicate that workers
expressed less satisfaction with fringe benefits than
with numerous other features of their conditions of
employment. Also, fringe benefits were the only
workplace improvements, among several suggest­
ed, for which large numbers of workers were
willing to sacrifice a pay increase.
Prevalence o f safety and health hazards. In all three
surveys, workers were asked if, within the previous


Talbi® i. Wag© arsdl salary wasters’ ©vatafifoira off fftrllirag® lb@ro©ffilt®
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Want benefits
tap jB K d


Went to resstaa

Paid vacation .............................










Medical, surgical, or hospital
insurance that covers any illness
or injury that might occur to you
while off the job . .










Maternity leave with full re­
employment rights3
A retirement program









‘ 1.7










Life insurance that would cover a
death occuring for reasons not
connected with your job ....................










Sick leave with full pay










A training program that you can
take to improve your skills ..............










Thrift or savings plan .............................










Free or discounted merchandise










Dental benefits..........................................



















Eyeglass or eye care benefits










Maternity leave with pay3

Profit s h a rin g ....................









Stock o p tio n s ...............................










Work clothing allowance .











Free or discounted meals ........................................










Legal aid service . . .










Child care arrangements
for working parents....................










'The base number for this column (N = 2278) is the (total) number of benefits mentioned by all
workers in response to the question: "Are there any fringe benefits you are not getting that you'd like
to be getting?” Percentages add to less than 100 percent because some benefits mentioned by
workers do not appear on this list.

D ecision

Safety equipment and practices __
How work is done ..........................
Wages and salaries ..........................
Days and hours of work ................
Hiring or layoffs .......... ..................

1 Includes only workers who report the benefit as available and, in the case of desired

improvement of fringe benefits, only those who want at least one benefit improved,
!Only women were asked about this benefit,
‘The category for this item is nonspecific maternity leave.

P ercent responding
“com plete s a y ” or
“lot o f s a y ”

A nother im portant dim ension o f working hours
concerns the extent to which workers have control
over their work schedules. In all three surveys,
workers were asked how m uch control they felt
they h a d over w hether or n o t they w orked
overtime. Between 1969 an d 1977, there was a
sm all b u t significant increase in the percent
reporting control o f their overtim e hours. M ore
workers in the third survey were in the top two
categories o f overtim e control (m ostly up to the
worker, and b oth w orker an d em ployer have a say
bu t worker can refuse w ithout penalty), up sig­
nificantly from 36 percent in 1969 to 52 percent in
1977. The pro p o rtio n reporting that it was up to
their em ployers a n d th at they could not refuse
overtim e w ithout penalty rem ained constant be­
tween 1969 an d 1977 at about 16 percent.
The percent reporting some kind o f problem
concerning “ . . . the hours you work, your work
schedule, or overtim e” rose slightly betw een 1969
and 1977 (nonsignificantly from 30 to 34 percent),
but the nature o f these problem s changed. O f the
total num ber o f problem s m entioned, inadequate
control by workers over hours (excluding the issue
o f overtime) rose from 4 percent o f the problem s in
1969 to 16 percent in 1977. Such evidence points to


Working hours. The 40-hour week persisted as the
prevalent workweek. However, the surveys reveal a
distinct and significant decline betw een 1969 an d
1977 in the proportion working exactly 40 hours
per week on their m ain jo b (from 39 to 30 percent)
an d an increase in the proportion w orking m ore
than 40 hours (from 39 to 42 percent) or less than
40 hours (from 22 to 28 percent). U sing a b ro ad er
range o f hours, for example, 35 to 44 hours as a
“norm al” workweek, there is still a significant
decline in the proportion working such a “norm al”
workweek (from 57 to 51 percent). These changes
do not reflect sex differences in w ork-hour prefer­
ences or in labor force com position. T he same
pattern o f changes applied to both m en an d
w om en—declines in the p ro p o rtio n s w orking
exactly 40 hours per week with com pensating
changes o f sim ilar m agnitude and directions.


valuable will your present job skills be 5 years from
now?” In 1973, 68 percent reported their skills
would be “very useful and valuable;” the propor­
tion dropped to 62 percent in 1977.
The decline relating to use of available skills on
the worker’s present job was even more substan­
tial. In 1969, 27 percent of those interviewed
claimed that they had some skills from their
experience and training that they would like to use
but could not on their present jobs. By 1977, this
measure of underutilization of skills had risen
significantly to 36 percent, with all of the change
occurring between 1973 and 1977. One plausible
source of underutilization of skills is “overeduca­
tion.” Workers who feel that their levels of formal
education exceed those required by their jobs seem
likely to possess skills that cannot be used on their
present jobs. “Overeducation” (or underutilization
of education) might, thus, be expected to increase
in tandem with underutilization of skills. This
prediction, however, is not confirmed by the 1969
and 1977 data. Data from these 2 years show no
increase whatsoever in the proportion of workers
with more education than their jobs required.
Consequently, the increase in perceived underutili­
zation of skills may have originated outside of
formal education.
Such findings should not be taken to mean that
workers felt that their jobs made few demands on
their skills. Some of the 1977 data indicate that
most workers reported that their jobs utilized a fair
measure of their skills. For example, 69 percent of
all workers “strongly agree” or “agree” that their
jobs required “a high level of skill” and 78 percent
said they were using their “skills and abilities.”
Moreover, most workers reported that their jobs
helped them acquire new skills. Thus, 62 percent of
all workers “strongly agree” or “agree” that their
jobs required them to be “creative” and 83 percent
said their jobs required them to “keep learning new
things.” Nevertheless, the trend data on skill
utilization do suggest that these percentages may
be on the decline.

a sizable constituency of workers who would be
receptive to flexitime and other experiments in
which workers could help determine their own
work schedules.
Beyond the issue of trends, the 1977 data
indicate that workers took off very little time for
personal activities during a regular workday.
Among full-time workers, 60 percent spent no
more than 30 minutes a day on meal breaks. Nor
did workers take off much time during an average
workday on regular coffee breaks or scheduled rest
breaks. Almost 40 percent of the full-time workers
received no such time off, and more than 70
percent received less than half an hour. Workers
also were asked how much additional time they
spent on activities such as talking to friends, doing
personal business, or just relaxing. Among full­
time workers, 45 percent reported no time off at all,
and two-thirds reported less than half an hour. By
comparison, among part-time workers (those who
worked 20 to 34 hours a week) the use of time
during an average workday for personal activities
was even more restricted: almost a third of all parttime workers (compared with 8 percent of all full­
time workers) reported no time off for meal
breaks; and almost half (compared with 39 percent
of all full-time workers) reported no time off for
coffee or rest breaks. By their own accounts, parttime workers spent virtually all of their time at
work on the tasks for which they are paid.
Discrimination. The data on different types of job
discrimination are as interesting for the trends they
do not show as for those they do. All workers in
the three surveys were asked whether they felt
discriminated against on their jobs because of age.
There was no significant change in overall age
discrimination. Young workers reported nonsignificantl decreases during the period (from 24 to 15
percent for those under age 21). Workers age 55
and over reported no change in age discrimination
between 1969 and 1973 but reported a significant
increase between 1973 and 1977 (from 4 to 10
percent). The proportion of women reporting sex
discrimination at work increased significantly from
8 to 14 percent between 1969 and 1973, but in
1977, the figure dropped to 12 percent. Among
black workers, reports of job discrimination based
on race or national origin held relatively constant
at 15 to 17 percent between 1969 and 1977.

Job mobility and security. The 1977 survey investi­
gated job security in greater detail than did the
earlier surveys. In 1977, job insecurity appeared
among the less frequent and less serious problems.
Nine percent of all workers reported their employ­
ment as irregular or unsteady; and among those,
27 percent described the problem as “sizable” or
“great.” Five percent had experienced a layoff in
the preceding year, and among those, 31 percent
characterized the problem as “sizable” or “great.”
Moreover, 15 percent reported that they were

Utilization o f skills. Evidence from the surveys
suggests a decline in the extent to which jobs
provide the opportunity for full use of skills. This
decline applies to future as well as current
opportunities. With respect to the future, the
interviewed workers were asked, “How useful and


unions’ handling of nontraditional issues such as
helping to make jobs more interesting, getting
workers a say in how their employers run the
business or organizations, and getting workers a
say in how they do their own jobs. However,
members also expressed the view that their unions
should put greater effort into the traditional than
into the less traditional union functions. Overall,
union members expressed satisfaction with their
unions—77 percent of the white-collar workers
and 71 percent of the blue-collar workers reported
that they were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied.
Workers not belonging to a union nor covered
by a union contract were asked how they would
vote if there were an election for representation by
a union or an employee association; 29 percent of
the white-collar workers and 39 percent of the
blue-collar workers reported that they would vote
in favor of such representation.

likely to lose their present jobs during the next
couple of years.
The 1977 survey included two measures of
locking-in that appeared also in at least one of the
earlier surveys. (Locking-in is the extent to which
workers feel constrained in seeking alternative
employment.) In all three surveys, wage and salary
workers were asked: “About how easy would it be
for you to find another job with another employer
with approximately the same income and fringe
benefits you now have?” In 1969, 40 percent
thought it would be very easy to find a similar job.
In 1973, the proportion dropped significantly to 27
percent, and by 1977, had dropped significantly
again to 20 percent. In 1973 and 1977, workers
were asked: “Is there a shortage of workers in this
(geographical) area who have your experience,
training, and skills?” Almost half (48 percent)
perceived a shortage in 1973, but only 37 percent
did so in 1977. Also, in 1977, of those not reporting
a worker shortage, 54 percent reported a shortage
of available jobs for people with their experience,
training, and skills. These data demonstrate that
between 1969 and 1977 workers became increas­
ingly locked-in to their jobs, a change that
undoubtedly reflects the economic climate and
unemployment rates.

Some interpretations of trends

The survey results show that American workers
experienced declines between 1969 and 1977 in job
satisfaction, intentions to stay on with their present
jobs and employers, and overall life satisfaction.
The changes were greater during the 1973-77
period than during the 1969-73 period.
There are three possible explanations for the
declining job satisfaction: (1) perhaps the composi­
tion of the labor force is changing in ways that give
added weight to those segments that are character­
istically low in job satisfaction; (2) perhaps the
objective qualities of jobs and conditions of
employment are deteriorating; or (3) perhaps
workers are raising their expectations regarding
their jobs.
The segments of the labor force that are
increasing include women with other wage earners
in the household, workers with educational attain­
ments beyond high school, workers who live in the
South, workers who are not members of unions,
workers under age 30, and workers in service
occupations. If these also are demographic classes
with characteristically low job satisfaction, the
composition argument has some support, but that
is not clearly the case. The first four groups
characteristically have job satisfaction levels at or
above the national means. The last two groups are
characteristically below the national means in job
satisfaction measures, but the period of their
greatest increase in numbers in our surveys, 1969
to 1973, does not match the period of greatest
decline in job satisfaction, 1973 to 1977. Further,
table 5 shows that the decline in job satisfaction
involved virtually all groups.

Attitudes toward labor unions

Trend data on union issues a’re not available
because the questions asked in 1977 differed from
those in the previous surveys. Workers in the 1977
sample expressed fairly positive attitudes toward
labor unions. On the subject of union goals,
workers were asked what things they thought
unions in this country were trying to do. Among
union members, 66 percent mentioned only posi­
tive things (such as improving wages or benefits,
improving job security) and 15 percent mentioned
only negative things (such as self-aggrandizement).
Among the nonmembers, the corresponding pro­
portions were 45 percent and 28 percent.
Union members gave their unions higher marks
for handling traditional functions than for less
traditional functions. A majority reported that
their unions did a “somewhat” or “very” good job
in securing better working conditions, such as
better wages (76 percent for white-collar workers,
75 percent for blue-collar workers), better fringe
benefits (69 percent and 71 percent), improved
safety and health on the job (74 and 71 percent),
and improved job security (76 and 74 percent).
Members also rated their unions high on handling
grievances and on other indicators of responsive­
ness. Members were less positive about their


nately, the survey interviews included few meas­
ures o f w orkers’ expectations, so this argum ent
cannot be sufficiently tested. N onetheless, d a ta on
three indicators o f the discrepancy betw een w ork­
ers’ expectations an d the realities o f their w ork
experiences (nam ely, level o f educational a tta in ­
m ent, degree to which w orker is “overeducated”
for present jo b , and underutilization o f skills) give
essentially negative results. N either o f the m eas­
ures involving education exhibits the expected
p a tte rn o f stability betw een 1969 and 1973,
followed by an increase in unm et expectations
betw een 1973 an d 1977. The m easure o f underutili­
zation does m eet this first test, yet fails when used
as a control variable: the decline in jo b satisfaction
betw een 1973 an d 1977 persists even w ithin levels
o f underutilization. T he rising expectations argu­
m ent m ay gain greater em pirical support in the
future, when tested using m ore a n d ' better m eas­
In any case, the search for single, simple, an d
universally relevant explanations for changes in
jo b satisfaction, a n d other m easures o f w orker
well-being is likely to be fruitless. The explanatory
factors m ay be complex, an d m ay well be quite
different for the various subpopulations that m ake
up the A m erican labor force.

Given the lim ited available m easures, the argu­
m ent relating to objective deterioration o f jo b s
and em ploym ent conditions gains little support
from the data. Such changes in objective factors
that did occur betw een 1969 and 1977 were not
great, and in any case, indicate m ore gains than
losses in the objective qualities o f jo b s an d
em ploym ent conditions: increased availability o f
fringe benefits; dim inished severity of w ork-related
illnesses and injuries; m ore control by the worker
over overtim e hours. Between 1973 and 1977, the
slight decline in earnings m ay have contributed to
the-decrease in satisfaction” with financial rew ards
over that period, b u t it does not address the
.decrement in satisfaction w ith other dom ains.
M oreover, over the same period, the slight decline
in family incom e was no t m atched by a corre­
sponding decline in the adequacy o f fam ily
income. The decrease in availability o f alternative
em ploym ent opportunities, or locking-in, could
have accounted for som e reduction in jo b satisfac­
tion, but did not; locking-in increased considera­
bly m ore betw een 1969 a n d 1973 than betw een
1973 and 1977.
There rem ains, by the process o f elim ination, the
argum ent concerning rising expectations. U n fo rtu ­


Data from the 1969 and 1973 surveys appear in Neal Q. Herrick

and Robert P. Quinn, “The working conditions survey as a source of
social indicators,” Monthly Labor Review, April 1971, pp. 15-24, and
Robert P. Quinn, Thomas W. Mangione, Martha S. Baldi de
Mandilovitch, “Evaluating worldng conditions in America,” Monthly

2 The theoretical and empirical bases for development o f the
measures o f job satisfaction, along with their statistical significance
appear in Robert P. Quinn and Linda I. Shepard, The 1972-73 Quality
o f Employment Survey (Ann Arbor, Mich., Survey Research Center,
1974), pp. 50-69.
3 Job Satisfaction: Is There a Trend? Manpower Research
Monograph 30 (U.S. Department o f Labor, 1974).

Labor Review, November 1973, pp. 32-40.

APPENDIX^ Hire© surveys on work m America
of work-related problems, with special emphasis on
those that were or might become matters of public
policy; (2) to indicate which major demographic or
occupational groups were most affected by these
problems; (3) to develop efficient measures of job
satisfaction suitable for use with samples of workers in
heterogeneous occupations under a variety of condi­
tions of census and research; (4) to assess the associa­
tions between working conditions and various indica­
tors of workers’ well-being; (5) to establish base line
statistics that might permit subsequent national surveys
to reveal any trends in the content areas originally
investigated; and (6) to establish normative statistics
that might permit other investigators to compare their
data from more limited subsamples of workers with
national norms.
The second survey, the 1973 Quality of Employment
Survey, was conducted in early 1973 using a national
household sample of 1,455 employed persons. The 1973
survey retained the core content and purposes of the
preceding one, but differed in three aspects: first,

In 1968-69, the U.S. Department of Labor and the
Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan
instituted a program to assess some of the conditions of
employment experienced by American workers. It was
hoped that data based' on personal interviews with
representative workers would aid policymakers in
evaluating the needs and problems of workers.
The investigators defined “working conditions”
broadly to include not only immediate job and work
environment (for example, job content, hours of work),
but also the surrounding conditions (for example,
supervision, fringe benefits) and selected aspects of the
off-job but work-related conditions (such as transporta­
tion to work and child care). “Workers” include all
adults substantially engaged in remunerative employ­
The 1969 Survey of Working Conditions, with
interviews during late 1969, used a national probability
household sample of 1,533 employed persons 16 years
or older who worked for pay 20 hours a week or more.
Its goals were: (1) to assess the frequency and severity


underrepresentation of workers in multiple-worker
families. The statistical tables relating to the 1977
survey, unless otherwise specified, show the weighted
numbers of respondents, not the actual number. While
all of the percentages and mean scores shown are based
upon weighted data, all tests of significance are based
on unweighted data.
Differences and changes described as significant in
the text are significant at the 95 percent probability level
or better, using conservative assumptions. Statistical
information and methodological details appear in
Robert P. Quinn and Graham L. Staines, The 1977
Quality o f Employment Survey: descriptive statistics, with
comparison data from the 1969-70 Survey of Working
Conditions and the 1972-73 Quality o f Employment
Survey, available from Publications Sales, Institute for
Social Research, Box 1248, Ann Arbor Mich. 48106.
Persons interested in analyzing data from these surveys
can obtain data tapes and documentation from the
Inter-university Consortium for Political Social Re­
search, Box 1248, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106.

certain methodological development was no longer
needed and therefore, was omitted; second, issues
relating to job stress, physical health, and mental health
were expanded; third, the sampling procedure was
modified to take account of population shifts revealed
by the 1970 census, and only one worker was inter­
viewed in households with more than one eligible
The third survey, the 1977 Quality of Employment
Survey, was conducted in late 1977. Again, the core
content material from the earlier surveys was retained,
but new material was added. The principal added or
expanded topics of coverage concerned labor unions,
participation in workplace decisions, worker mobility,
work hours, and certain off-job matters such as political
participation, family accommodation to the worker’s
job, and leisure activities.
The 1969 survey included all eligible respondents in
each of the sample households, and is therefore self­
weighting. To make the three samples comparable, data
for 1973 and 1977 were weighted to compensate for the

W orker participation
The idea of participation as a principle of organization is not a new
one. It has its roots, after all, in the ageless democratic ideal. It is ex­
pressed in our cultural emphasis on the dignity of the individual and
on the value of freely stated opinions before a decision is reached. In
the management of our industrial enterprises, also, workers have long
been and are now consulted intermittently on immediate production
problems. But the rise and the strength of the American labor move­
ment give testimony that the emphasis in industry has usually been the
other way around; on the unquestioned authority and ability of
management to make correct and acceptable decisions. As this
philosophy was once stated, “ All that a man wants, is to be told what
to do and to be paid for doing it.”
The idea of worker participation on production problems, of
democracy in industry is, basically, then, an old one, yet one that
challenges a traditional management philosophy. Thus, the fu n ­
damental premise of the participation idea, just the opposite of that
quoted above, might be stated in this way: The average worker is able
to make and, given the right kind of circumstances, wants to make im­
portant contributions to the solution of production problems. If you
cannot accept this premise, you need consider this question no fur­
----- George P. Shultz
“ Worker Participation on Productivity Problems,” in
Frederick G. Lesieur, ed., The Scanlon Plan:
A Frontier in Labor-Management Cooperation
(Cambridge, mit Press, 1958), p. 51


Worker dissatisfaction:
a look at the causes

George Strauss
A ll during the 1940’s and 1950’s, workers placed
steady work as the most important thing they wanted
from their jobs. By sharp contrast, a 1969 survey
listed interesting work first, with job security coming
seventh; six of the eight top-ranking work aspects
related to job content.
These data may be but a statistical artifact, but if
confirmed by other evidence they suggest a substan­
tial shift in the value-ordering of American workers:
with low level needs largely fulfilled, workers may
be in a position to demand satisfaction for their
egoistic and self-actualization needs. If so, such
workers are less likely to settle for apathy or even
for a job which offers high income and a rich social
life but no intrinsic satisfaction. Possibly for such
workers, money alone may no longer motivate— or
as economists put it, it may have declining marginal
utility. Possibly. But today’s luxuries become tomor­
row’s necessities. Wants grow at least as fast as paychecks, and I doubt if economic motivation will
atrophy as fast as some psychologists suggest. Re­
gardless, most employees today claim that they are
satisfied and apparently have reached some sort of
adjustment to their environment (in the sense that
what they expect and obtain from the job are in fair
balance). Dissatisfaction may have increased re­
cently, but probably not by much.
It seems reasonably clear that not everyone feels
oppressed by his organization. Dissatisfaction with

work seems to be a function of technology. The most
dissatisfaction is reported on jobs with short job
cycles or relatively little challenge— and also in in­
dustries in which such characteristics are common,
such as the automotive industry.
There are a variety of forms of adjustment work­
ers may make to “objectively” challengeless work
(that is. work which most observers— and especially
college professors— report as challengeless). Some
workers are able to develop rich social lives on the
job or are active in their union. Others obtain a
large part of the challenges they seek off the job,
through recreation or family activities (though the
evidence suggests that for many this recreation may

THE 43D AMERICAN ASSEMBLY, meeting at Arden House,
Harriman, N .Y ., examined “ The Changing World o f Work” at a
4-day conference last November. This and the excerpt on pp.
14-15, drawn from background papers prepared for the conference
and copyrighted by The American Assembly, are published with
permission. A final report on the conference is planned for
publication later this year under the title The Worker and the Job:
Coping with Change, and may be ordered from the publisher,
Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N .J. 07632.
George Strauss is a professor at the School o f Business Ad­
ministration and also acting director of the Institute of Industrial
Relations, University of California, Berkeley. This excerpt is
adapted from his paper, “ Workers: Attitudes and Adjustments.”

From the Review of February 1974


be rather passive in nature). A worker may “ad­
just” by dreaming of better work, whether for him­
self or his children. Alternatively, he may “enlarge”
his job through sabotage or output restriction, or he
may lower his aspirations and delude himself that he
is truly happy— and thus become resigned and
apathetic. Finally, he may become a chronic griper
and even express his feelings by striking, being ab­
sent from work, or quitting his job.
But dissatisfaction can be caused as much by low
incomes, job insecurity, inadequate fringe benefits,
or tyrannical supervision. Indeed to me the evidence
suggests that for workers at all levels— even man­
agers and professionals— lack of challenge is much
less oppressive than lack of income. People as a
whole are willing to tolerate large doses of boredom
if they are paid enough. In so doing they are perhaps

selling their soul for a mess of pottage. By my elitist
standards this may be a raw deal, especially since it
may have an adverse impact on personality and
mental health. But why should my standards govern?
Life without adequate income can also be pretty
I tend to agree with those union leaders who argue
that economic conditions are a greater cause of dis­
satisfaction than any intrinsic sterility on the job.
But this is no reason for ignoring intrinsic factors—
any more than we should ignore arthritis just be­
cause cancer kills more people annually. The fact
that over 10 percent of our work force (almost 10
million people) are dissatisfied is itself significant.
And it is also clear that challengeless work has led to
countless further millions leading narrower, less
creative, and less happy lives.

R obert Owem9§ Sessom
The need to give machines the care and conditions required for
them to work best—to service, clean, and maintain them and keep
them in the right temperatures and humidity—is seen as obvious;
yet doing the same for human beings is often regarded as an ex­
travagance. It is an old, old lesson of which Robert Owen provided
initial proof at his New Lanark Mill in Scotland between the years
1800 and 1820. He built schools, developed adult education,
restricted child labour, provided clean and safe working conditions.
His workers were the so-called “ unemployables” imported from the
slums of Glasgow and others were crofters driven from their land
by the big landlords: 500 of his 1700 workforce were pauper ap­
prentices. They were a bitter, warring, improvident, and hard
drinking community with no cause to trust their employer and little
social homogeneity. Yet he built a society in New Lanark which,
remarkably, made more profit than his competitors were able to
achieve with their “ buy them cheap and sell them dear policy.’’
We began to learn Owen’s lesson and apply it when more than a
century had passed since his work at New Lanark. Quality of work life
is simply an extension of Owen’s thesis. It rests on the assumption
that workers, unions, and employers all have a shared interest in
the continuation and profitability of the enterprise. But in order
that workers should make their contribution, they need the right en­
vironment. Job structures will need to be changed, work reorgan­
ised, and arrangements made for people to participate in the deci­
sions which affect them.
----- Peter D. Carr, Labour Counsellor, British Embassy
From “ The British Approach to Quality of Work Life,”
a paper presented at the Quality of Work Life Institute,
George Meany Center for Labor Studies, Silver Spring, Md.,
February 10, 1981


Worker dissatisfaction:
a look at the economic effects

P eter Henle
Some evidence provides modest support to the
proposition that there is increasing disenchantment
with work, including, for example, the decline in
labor force participation by middle-aged and older
men, the increase in the rate of unscheduled ab­
sences over the past 5 years, and the increasing pro­
portion of strikes over working conditions. The in­
crease in petitions filed with the National Labor Re­
lations Board by individuals in bargaining units ask­
ing that their decertified (its right of repre­
sentation ended) may suggest that workers are in­
creasingly dissatisfied with the collective bargaining
On the other hand, each of these points has to be
qualified. The decline in labor force participation by
middle-aged and older men is more than offset
numerically by the sharp growth in the rate at which
women have been entering the labor force and the
absence of any decline among younger people. The
significance of the increased rate of unscheduled
absences is not clear; to some extent, it may simply
reflect individuals taking advantage of newly won
paid-leave privileges. The increasing proportion of
strikes over working conditions covers such a wide
variety of issues that its implications in terms of at­
titudes toward work are uncertain. Finally, the in­
crease in decertification petitions must be put in

proper perspective; the number of workers voting to
oust their union representatives is but 5 to 10 percent
of the total voting to install union representation.
In addition, other indicators give little or no sup­
port to any decline in the work ethic: the absence of
any long-term trend in the quit rate, the rebound in
the rate of productivity improvement, and the rela­
tive stability of labor relations activity, even in such
an active collective bargaining year as 1973.
In summary, Americans may be more unhappy at
work, but there is very little evidence that this has
affected their economic performance. Furthermore,
the absence of any clear-cut economic data pointing
to disaffection with work raises the possibility that
people may be more satisfied with their jobs than
many writers have suggested.
The avalanche of news stories and surveys point­
ing up job dissatisfaction has tended to obscure a
number of longer range developments operating to
create a more favorable working environment. Con­
sider, for example, the following:
1. Changes in the occupational structure have em­
phasized the rise of professional, technical, and other
white-collar jobs at the expense of the blue-collar
occupations. Many routine, low-paying jobs remain,
especially in manufacturing and service industries,
but the effect of technological change has been to
eliminate many burdensome backbreaking laboring
2. There have been major improvements in the
work environment. For one thing, most jobs are no

Peter H enle is senior specialist (labor) in the Congressional
Research Service, Library of Congress.

From the Review of February 1974


longer jammed into the middle of the urban centers,
as small manufacturing plants outside the metropoli­
tan centers have tended to replace the older, ugly,
sprawling plants in the cities. In addition, improved
lighting, ventilation, temperature, noise control, sani­
tation, and other amenities have been built into the
newer industrial facilities. Perhaps the ideal factory
has not been achieved, but working conditions have
certainly improved.
3. A longer preparatory period of education be­
fore commencing a working career, a revolution in
paid leisure time during the work career, and a longer
period of income-supported retirement afterwards
have given a new look to the role of work in American
life and opened up a wider range of opportunities
aw ay from work for creating a full and satisfying life.
4. Important changes have been taking place in
the schedules for working hours. Most significant
is-the growth in part-time jobs—over 50 percept in
the last 10 years—which have particular appeal to
women and young people.
5. Finally, what about the increase in levels of
pay? Working on a General Motors assembly line
may provide little satisfaction for the inner man, but
the pay of $4.60 an hour (plus health insurance, pen­

sions, paid vacations, holidays, and other fringe
benefits) with $9,000 annual earnings (plus overtime) may cover up most of the pain.
These points do not erase any cause for job dis­
satisfaction, but they may have the effect of making
work more tolerable economically than it may have
been in the past.
Up to now, there is only limited evidence that dis­
affection with work has interfered with the perform­
ance of the national economy. In the future this may
change, as the bond that ties individuals to their
work tends to loosen in a world of higher incomes,
greater leisure, and more competitors for an indi­
vidual’s time. In such a world, if work is to retain its
traditional attraction, management and labor may
have to change some attitudes and techniques, per­
haps even their basic approach to the work environ­
ment. However, the demonstrated adaptability of the
Nation’s labor relations institutions provides some
confidence that any such changes can be adopted

Labor looEss at quality-of-worklife programs
Quality-of-worklife programs, under whatever name, can be
of tremendous help in facilitating the dealing with the larger issues
of collective bargaining, including wages and working conditions,
and, at the same time, can deal with the less visible but even more
basic issues that affect the individual at the workplace.
Labor has no intention of allowing management to co-opt these
basic issues. But dealing with qwl programs will present our unions
with immense problems of education of members; training and re­
training of shop stewards and business agents; of giving attention to
the overall coordination of qwl programs plant by plant, employer by
employer, and individual by individual; and of developing at national
staff levels the technical expertise to assist in the negotiation of qwl
programs and in their development and maintenance, and in the
resolution of the problems of sharing the benefits—what necessary
agreements and conditions before entering into the program, and so
Every union needs to continue in every way possible to assert its
rights and the rights of its members to acceptance as legitimate equals
in a partnership with management, with collective bargaining as the
essential foundation for labor-management cooperation.
— - T homas R. D onahue , Secretary-Treasurer, afl-cio
From an address at the Labor Relations
Research Center of the University of Massachusetts,
Amherst, January 7, 1982


Work, stress, and
individual well-being

Robert L. Kahn
Research and theory about organizational life have been
dominated by the criterion of organizational effective­
ness. Productivity and profit, absence and turnover,
strikes and grievances, and other such measures are the
outcomes that such research attempts to predict or ex­
plain. In combination they indicate the effectiveness
or well-being of the organization as a living system.
But the individual is also a living system, with crite­
ria of well-being quite separate from those of the
organization. Agreement on those criteria is far from
perfect, but there is some convergence around the abili­
ty to work, love, and play; to regard oneself and one’s
life with positive feelings; to perceive people and events
without major distortion; and to be free from
distressing physical symptoms. These and other mea­
sures of individual health, physical and mental, we re­
gard as complex outcomes determined in part by
properties of the organizations within which people
work and the roles they perform in those organizations.
The enactment of an organizational role by an indi­
vidual can thus be thought of as an intersection and
partial overlap of two ongoing systems, the person and
the organization. The overlap consists of certain cycles
of behavior that are identical for both; these behaviors
are part of the ongoing life of both the individual and
the organization. We are accustomed to examining the
extent to which these overlapping cycles contribute to
efficiency, productivity, and other measures of organiza­
tional effectiveness. It is equally appropriate, however,
to ask the complementary questions: Does the enact­
ment of the organizational role enhance or reduce the

well-being of the individual? Does it enlarge or diminish
the person’s valued skills and abilities? Does it increase
or restrict the individual’s opportunity and capacity to
perform other valued social roles?1
Stress and health
Research on the full triad of work, stress, and health
is still relatively uncommon. More research has been
done on the latter elements, stress and health, or more
specifically, on the physiological and behavioral effects
of certain stressors (stimuli) on laboratory animals and
on human beings. As a result, much has been learned
about the psychobiology of stress, about the effects of
stress on the central nervous system, on neuroregulators
in the brain, and on the immune system. Something is
known also about the relationship of stress to physical
and psychiatric illness. Without pretending even to
summarize these large bodies of work, I want to suggest
in each of these areas the kinds of findings that are ac­
cumulating, especially those in which the experimental

This excerpt is drawn from a paper presented at the Thirty-Third
Annual Meeting of the Industrial Relations Research Association,
September 1980, in Denver, Colo. Papers prepared for the meetings o f
the IRRA are excerpted by special permission and may not be
reproduced without the express permission o f the IRRA, which holds
the copyright.
Robert L. Kahn is Program Director at the Institute for Social
Research, The University o f Michigan. The title o f his full IRRA paper
is “ Work, Stress, and H ealth.”

From the Review of May 1981


stressor is strongly suggestive of conditions imposed by
many jobs.

psychosocial stress in reducing resistance, increasing
susceptibility, and lengthening the process of recovery.

Psychobiology of stress. The earliest research on biologi­
cal aspects of stress concentrated on the adrenocortico­
tropic hormone (acth) and the pituitary-adrenal
system. In more recent years, other hormones have been
identified as stress-responsive. Many stressors evoke
these hormonal responses, but the common element ap­
pears to be emotional arousal to threatening and un­
pleasant aspects of life situations.
Moreover, some of these hormonal changes occur not
only in response to classical aversive stimuli like pain or
noise, but also in response to unfavorable changes in
environmental contingencies and expectations. For ex­
ample, when animals trained to work for food by press­
ing a lever were presented with a condition in which
pressing the lever did not produce food, they showed el­
evations in plasma corticoids as high as those evoked
by noxious stimuli. Other research also emphasizes the
importance of predictability in facilitating coping and in
minimizing hormonal stress responses. For example, an­
imals subjected to unpredictable shocks showed greater
somatic change (corticosterone elevation, stomach ulcer­
ation, and weight loss) than animals that received
shocks of the same magnitude on a predictable basis.
Experiments with escapable and inescapable shock show
similar results. Animals exposed to inescapable shock
showed more fear than those exposed to escapable
shock. Moreover, animals so exposed learned the lesson
of helplessness and showed a severely reduced ability to
escape in subsequent situations in which escape was
possible. One researcher summarizes these and other
laboratory studies by stating that there are two basic
stimulus patterns that elevate hormonal responses for
significant lengths of time: instability, which creates an
unpredictable and “ununderstandable” environment,
and uncontrollability, which makes coping efforts futile.

Stress and physical illness. A current review by one re­
searcher summarized research on stress as a casual fac­
tor in a wide array of physical illness. Examples with
apparent relevance to conditions encountered by men
and women at work include gastric ulcer, cancer, and
cardiovascular diseases. The treatment now considered
most useful for peptic ulcer (cimetidine) acts by block­
ing the release of hydrochloric acid in response to emo­
tional stimuh and other stressors. There is some
evidence for the involvement of stress factors—includ­
ing recent significant loss, job instability, and lack of
plans for the future—in the precipitation of cancer. The
effects of stress in illness have perhaps been demonstrat­
ed most clearly with respect to cardiovascular disease.
Laboratory studies of stressful stimuli produce changes
in stroke volume, heart rate, and blood pressure. Con­
sistent with these is the clinical identification of emo­
tional disturbance as a major cause of anginal pain, and
as a cause of heart failure in persons with heart disease
otherwise under control.
Stress and psychiatric illness. Recent research implicates
stress as a factor in depression, anxiety states, alcohol­
ism, drug abuse, and sleep disorders. For example, de­
pressed men and women experienced many more
stressful life events just prior to their depression than
did comparable groups in the general population.
Anxiety as a temporary feeling associated with some
actual or threatened event is an experience that every­
one has had. It seems to arise when we feel that the de­
mands made on us (or soon to be made) exceed our
abilities or resources to meet them successfully. When
such feelings of anxiety are chronic, disabling, or seem­
ingly unrelated to external realities, they are classified as
signs of psychiatric disorder. Since the work role is for
the majority of adults one of the most important
sources of recurring demands for performance within
specified limits of time, quality, and resources, we can
expect it also to be a common source of anxiety.
Alcoholism and drug abuse almost certainly have
many causes that do not lie in the immediate environ­
ment of the person. Environmental stressors seem to be
implicated in both disorders, nevertheless. For example,
the use of alcohol was found to increase during the first
year after the death of a spouse and the use of opiates
and marijuana was higher among Americans in Viet­
nam than would have been predicted from comparison
groups in the United States.
The intuitive opinion that acute life stresses cause
sleep disturbances has been well documented. Further­
more, chronic insomniacs, as compared to controls, re­
ported more stressful life events during the year in
which their insomnia began. There is some evidence

Stress and immunity. A recent review of research on the
immune system found that certain psychosocial process­
es affect the central nervous system, thereby bringing
about changes in the immune function, which in turn
alter the risk of onset and subsequent course of many
diseases. Frightening and distressing stimuli, over­
crowding, exposure to loud noise and bright light have
all been found to have effects of this kind in animals.
For example, the stress of avoidance learning (perfor­
mance to avoid punishment) and confinement in mice
produced adrenal hypertrophy and susceptibility to vi­
ral infection. Stress effects on the immune systems have
also been noted in studies with human beings. For ex­
ample, in 1977, one researcher reported decreased im­
mune responses among bereaved spouses after a period
of seven to 10 weeks. Studies of infectious diseases, both
with animals and human beings, bear out the effects of


that chronic lack of sleep is more than unpleasant. Even
short periods of sleep during periods of prolonged phys­
ical stress reversed stress-related changes in growth hor­
mone, prolactin, and testosterone. And in a long
prospective study, a group of researchers found that
otherwise healthy individuals who initially reported ab­
normal sleep patterns (substantially less or more than
the average) were more likely than members of the con­
trol group to have died by the time of the 6-year fol­

cede more severe somatic and behavioral reactions
to stress.
The reader is likely to say, “Well everybody knows
that.” Perhaps everybody knows it, but almost nobody
does much about it. There is some innovation; some
drift toward job enlargement and employee involvement
in decisions, perhaps; some experimentation in related
matters. But the spread is slow and the successful ex­
periments are not copied, even in the companies where
they were done. Compared with the adoption rate of
flared trousers and color television, not to mention
computers, stress-reducing improvements in the quality
of work life are adopted slowly.
Why should this be so? Many reasons come to mind,
and many have been offered. Let me conclude by pro­
posing a reason that is not so often given for the slow
spread of stress-reducing, work-enhancing organization­
al changes — their special demands on organizational
leadership. Buying a new technology is, a decision usual­
ly made by people at the top of an organization that
creates change-demands on others. But redesigning an
organization to increase autonomy and control of each
person and group creates change-demands that begin
with the leaders themselves, in labor unions and govern­
ment as well as industry. This task, its admitted dif­
ficulty, and its apparent implications for the reduction
of managerial power and privilege, account for the slow,
resistant, over-skeptical response of management to the
findings of stress research— a response that has been
slower in the United States than in some other techni­
cally advanced countries.
The scientific understanding of stress has greatly en­
larged and continues to grow. The use of that under­
standing to reduce stress has only begun.

Im plications for jobs and organizations
Now let us bring work back into the discussion of
stress and health, by proposing a few implications of
stress research for the improvement of work life. With
both the field and the laboratory findings in mind, let
us go beyond research and propose a few decision rules
for the design of less stressful jobs and organizations:





Minimize unpredictability and ambiguity at work.
Make the work situation as predictable as possible,
in terms of job stability and certainty about the fu­
ture. (Change can be predictable, too.)
Minimize uncontrollable events at the individual lev­
el. That is, maximize the decisions that can be
made autonomously by the individual, then the de­
cisions that can be made directly by the primary
group in which the individual works, and only then
those decisions in which control must be by more
distant representative arrangements. (Take into ac­
count differences in individual preference.)
Eliminate avoidance learning, that is, performanceor-punishment. Instead, recognize and reward suc­
cessful performance, both at the group and the in­
dividual level.
Minimize physical stressors—excessive noise, ex­
tremes of temperature and light intensity, spatial
and postural confinement, crowding and isolation.
Avoid recurring (daily) stresses; they are more dam­
aging than the occasional peaks of demand.
Watch for negative affect (emotional response).
Feelings of boredom and apathy, anger and hostili­
ty, and other kinds of emotional distress often pre­

--------- FOOTNOTE---------1 The introductory paragraphs of this article are adapted from
Chapter 17 of Daniel Katz and Robert L. Kahn, The Social
Psychology o f Organizations (New York, Wiley, 1978). The discus­
sion of stress and health owes much to the work of the Committee on
Stress Research, Institute o f Medicine, National Academy o f Sciences.


How American workers
view labor unions
Although most workers surveyed are critical
o f union leaders, most also consider them
effective in promoting member job interests,
a third o f nonmembers would vote to unionize,
and, in general, union members are satisfied





Results of the survey show that w orkers general­
ly viewed unions as large, powerful bodies, which
are highly effective. O f the nonunion workers,
alm ost one-third said they w ould vote to unionize;
and, although union m em bers were m ostly sat­
isfied, they placed highest priorities on im proving
their unions’ internal adm inistration, while also
emphasizing the im portance o f traditional collec­
tive bargaining issues, such as wages an d fringe

The A m erican trade union m ovem ent has been
characterized by theorists, social critics, and union
practitioners alike as following a “business union­
ism ” philosophy. T hat is, A m erican unions are
seen as very pragm atic organizations that seek to
improve the econom ic and social conditions of
their m em bers, focusing on im proving the condi­
tions o f em ploym ent in the short run, prim arily
through collective bargaining.
However, until recently, surprisingly little work
has probed system atically the views of A m erican
workers tow ard trade unions.1 Even less em pirical
evidence was available for m easuring union m em ­
bers’ assessments of the perform ance o f their own
T he 1977 Q uality o f E m ploym ent Survey,
conducted for the U.S. D epartm ent o f Labor by
the Survey Research C enter at the U niversity o f
M ichigan, provides a first step tow ard changing
this state of affairs.2 A ttitudes and experiences o f a
representative sample o f the labor force were
surveyed on a variety o f questions related to the
respondents’ working lives.3 Three sets o f ques­
tions pertaining to unions were included in the
survey. First, all respondents were asked about
their beliefs ab o u t trade unions in general. Second,
the nonunion respondents were asked about their
voting preference if a union representation election
were held where they work. Third, the union
m em bers in the survey were asked to report their
satisfaction with their unions, priorities for w hat
their unions ought to be doing, and views of w hat
their unions actually were doing a n d to indicate
the extent o f their participation in their unions.

Perceiving unions
In the questions on w hat workers believe trade
unions are doing, respondents were asked to rate
on a five-point scale the extent to which they
agreed or disagreed with the statem ents listed in
table 1.
“Big-labor” image. T he first six questions in the
table are clustered in som ething that m ight be
labeled a “big-labor-im age” dim ension.4 These
questions m easure the extent to which respondents
agree or disagree with statem ents th at the labor
m ovem ent exerts a pow erful influence over others
in society. F o r example, those who generally
agreed w ith these statem en ts saw unions as
exerting considerable influence over (1) who gets
elected to public office, (2) w hat laws are passed,
(3) how the country is run, (4) employers, and (5)
union m em bers. A final question in this cluster
asked the extent to which the respondents saw
union leaders as out to do w hat is best for
themselves rather th an w hat is best for their
m em bers. Between 70 an d 80 percent o f the
respondents agreed with the statem ents that unions
exert influence over who gets elected to public
office, w hat laws are passed, how the country is

Thomas A. Kochan is an associate professor at the New York State
School o f Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University.

From the Review of April 1979


High ratings for effectiveness. The remaining four
questions are clustered in a separate factor in the
bottom half of table 1. These questions appear to
measure the extent to which respondents viewed
unions as “instrumental” in improving the working
lives of their members. Those who agreed with
these questions saw unions as (1) protecting their
members against unfair practices of employers, (2)
improving members’ job security, (3) improving
the wages of their members, and (4) giving their
members their money’s (dues) worth. More than 80
percent of the respondents agreed that unions
improve the wages and job security of their
members and represent their members against
unfair labor practices of employers. The respond­
ents were almost equally divided over the question
of whether the unions provide members their
money’s worth. Again these data are consistent
with previous polls that show, despite the negative
images of the political and economic power of
unions, between 60 and 70 percent of Americans
approve of unions in general and of the rights of
workers to join unions. Bok and Dunlop interpre­
ted these ratings (in conjunction with the negative
public image of the power of unions) as support for
the collective bargaining functions of unions.6
When a regression analysis was performed on
the average responses to this “instrumental”
dimension, it was found that those who were most
likely to agree with these statements were members
of trade unions, higher educated, and living in the
South. White-collar workers, especially managerial
employees, workers in the North-Central region of
the country, and those in the manufacturing,
transportation, and utility industries were less
likely to agree with these statements. Although
nonwhites and older workers also scored higher on
this dimension than their white and younger
counterparts, the relationships here were not
statistically significant.
Those who scored high on the big-labor-image
dimension were somewhat less likely to score high
in the instrumental dimension (the correlation
between the scores on these two dimensions is
-.19). However, these are by no means mutually
exclusive images. Instead, the majority of the
workers surveyed apparently were somewhat skep­
tical of the political roles that unions play and of
their power in society and also held positive views
of union performance in collective bargaining.

TsbSe 1. Amgriean workers’ beliefs about trade unions'
[In percent]

Big-labor-image beliefs:
Influence wtio gets elected
to public o ffic e .......................................
Influence laws pass ed ............................
Are more powerful than
employers ................................................
Influence how the country
is run ........................................................
Require members to go along
with decisions.........................................
Have leaders who do what's
best for them selves...............................
Instrumental beliefs:
Protect workers against
unfair practice .......................................
Improve job security ...............................
Improve wages .........................................
Give members their money
(dues) worth ...........................................






































'In the survey, 1,515 workers were polled.

run, and union members. Approximately twothirds of the respondents agreed that unions are
more powerful than employers and that leaders are
more interested in what benefits themselves than in
what benefits union members. Thus, a strong
majority of workers saw unions as big, powerful
institutions in society.
These results are consistent with earlier opinion
poll data summarized by Derek C. Bok and John
T. Dunlop. A 1941 survey found 75 percent of the
public believed union leaders had accumulated
“too much power;” 62 percent agreed with this
same question in 1950. Questions about union
leaders asked in four polls between 1962 and 1965
consistently showed that the public held union
leaders in very low esteem relative to business
leaders, religious leaders, government officials, and
college professors.5 However, because the wording
and specificity of the questions in the 1977 survey
differ from these earlier polls, it is not possible to
make exact comparisons.
A regression analysis in which the dependent
variable was an index composed of the average
responses to these big-labor-image questions
showed that those who were most likely to agree
with these statements were older and white-collar
workers, while those most likely to disagree with
these statements were union members, Southern­
ers, women, nonwhites, and workers employed in
public sector occupations. Overall, however, only a
very small proportion of the variations in these
responses (R2= .07) was explained by the regres­
sion equation, indicating that this big-labor image
was generally shared by a majority of the workers
in all the demographic, industrial, regional, and
occupational categories examined.

Workers divided on union function. In addition to
responding to multiple-choice questions, the re­
spondents were asked in an open-ended question
to describe what they believe labor unions in this
country are trying to do. The responses to this

question then were coded into a set of positive or
negative categories depending on the nature of the
responses. Overall, 51 percent of those responding
mentioned only positive things that unions are
doing. Twenty-four percent described only nega­
tive functions. Fourteen percent mentioned both
positive and negative things, and the remaining 11
percent of the responses were not amenable to
classification. The most common positive function
mentioned was improving the wages and benefits
of union members. Twenty-nine percent of those
giving a reason listed this as their primary view of
what unions do. An additional 18 percent de­
scribed unions as improving the working condi­
tions of their members. Although the remaining
responses on the positive side were scattered across
a wide variety of categories, none of the reasons
given were listed by more than 5 percent of the
Those describing unions as doing negative
things had a more difficult time specifying exactly
what they meant. Of the primary reasons given, the
most frequent was the view that unions were out
more for their own self-protection than for the
good of society in general. Six percent of those
responding gave this view of unions. The remain­
ing negative views were, again, scattered across a
wide array of categories. None of the reasons were
given by more than 3 percent of the sample. Thus,
the negative image workers have of unions appears
to reflect a generalized stereotype, rather than a
specific identifiable or easily expressed criticism.

individual workers approach the decision to jo in or
not jo in a union:
The worker reacts favorably to union membership in
proportion to the strength of his belief that this step
will reduce his frustrations and anxieties and will
further his opportunities relevant to the achievement
of his standards of successful living. He reacts
unfavorably in proportion to the strength of his belief
that this step will increase his frustrations and
anxieties and will reduce his opportunities relevant to
the achievement of such standards:7
In short, if we are to distinguish betw een individu­
als who w ould support unionization in 1977 versus
those w ho w ould not, we m ust first identify the
current job -related concerns o f workers, their
evaluation of their current conditions, an d their
views o f the instrum entality o f unionization as a
strategy for im proving their well-being versus the
perceived costs or negative consequences o f union­
The findings o f several recent em pirical studies
suggest that dissatisfaction over the econom ic or
traditional bread an d butter issues o f wages, fringe
benefits, and w orking conditions is m ore strongly
related to the desire to jo in a union than is
dissatisfaction with other aspects o f a jo b , such as
relations with supervisors an d the content o f the
jo b itself.9 Thus, the initial proposition tested with
these d a ta was that those w orkers who are m ore
dissatisfied with the econom ic or traditional bread
and b utter aspects o f their jo b or those who report
m ore problem s with such aspects are m ore likely to
be union supporters than those who are m ore
satisfied or experience fewer problem s with these
aspects o f their job.
The correlations an d regression equations relat­
ing characteristics o f the respondents, their jobs,
and their attitu d es tow ard their jo b s to the
propensity to jo in a union are presented in table 2.
For the overall sample, bread an d b utter aspects o f
the re s p o n d e n ts ’ jo b s w ere co n sisten tly sig­
nificantly related to willingness to jo in unions,
both before an d after controlling for all o f the
other variables. Likewise, those respondents who
reported m ore problem s with inadequate income,
fringe benefits, and problem s with health an d
safety hazards on the jo b were also m ore likely to
support unionization on their jobs than were
w orkers not experiencing these problem s (or
experiencing them in lesser m agnitudes). E xam ina­
tion o f the distribution o f these responses betw een
union an d nonunion supporters further indicated
that only when the problem s becam e m ost Severe
or the highest level or dissatisfaction was reported
did a m ajority o f repondents indicate a willingness

Voting on unionization

One of the key questions asked of the nonunion
respondents in the survey was whether they would
vote for union representation if an election were
held in their workplace. Of the 983 that responded,
295, or 30 percent, indicated they would vote for
unionization. When managers and the self-em­
ployed were excluded from the sample, the rate of
support for unionization rose to 33 percent.
Further breakdowns show that 39 percent of the
blue-collar workers would support unionization,
compared to 28 percent of the white-collar work­
ers, excluding the self-employed and managers.
Perhaps the most striking finding was that 67
percent of all black and other minority workers
would vote to unionize. Also, 40 percent of all
women and 35 percent of workers in the South
would support unionization.
Dissatisfaction a factor. The following statement by
E. Wight Bakke is still perhaps one of the best
propositions for guiding an analysis of how



2 . R o g ir e s s io r ts

od w o r k e r ® ’ p r o p e n s i t y

u n io n s , b y o c c u p a tio n s !

jo in

g ro u p








Overall sample1
Independent v a r ia t e

Job satisfaction4
Bread and butter ..............
Nature of work _



Desired on-the-job influence
Difficulty exerting influence .
Job insecurity10 . . .
Severity of job dangers10. . .
Travel to work difficulties10 .

’ .160
’ .150
’ .164


Desirability of working
Inadequate income10
Inadequate fringes10 ..............
Pay equity perceptions10 . .
Age ............................................

’ .103
’ .209
’ .211
’ -.090


Education ...............................
Sex: Female .............................
Race: Nonwhite ......................
Big-labor-image b e lie fs .........
Instrumentality beliefs ...........

‘ .118
’ .244
’ -.167
’ .329

’ .143
‘ -.076
’ .262

North C e n tra l......................
S o u th .....................................

’ -.077

Size of establishment:
1 to 10 employees
.. .
11 to 499 employees ___
Over 2000 employees___
Secondary ..........................
Government ........................
Occupation: "
Professional/technical . . .
Managerial/administrative .
Clerical .................................
Craftsman .............................
Service .................................



. . . ’-.111
. . . -9095
’ .104
’ .057
M 41

. . . ‘-.160
‘ .112
’ .156





’ .150
’ .081

’ .150
’ .092


‘ .097

-.001 -.008
.035 -.011
’ .148 ’ .176
’ -.091 ’ -.116
.273 ’ .301

’ .180
’ -.120
’ .301

‘ .117
’ -.060
’ .230

’ .130
’ -.079
’ .261

‘ -.108

‘ -.103 ’ -.126
‘ -.073 -.043
-.047 -.040

’ -.126

‘ -.132
‘ -.117

‘ -.116
’ -.105

’ -.095

’ -.090


’ .136

‘ -.215







‘ -.105



‘ -.116
’ -.091




’ .067
‘ .087










Measures of regression accuracy
TP . . .

__ ’ 12.14

’ 10.61

‘ 7.35

‘ 6.81

‘ 8.05

‘ 5.97

'N =804.
’ These regressions include indexes of job satisfaction.
’These regressions include measures of workers' perceptions of problems with different aspects
of their jobs.
<N = 335.
5N = 469.
‘ Not included in Run 2.
’ Significant at .01.
‘ Significant at .05.
’ Significant at .10.
,0Not included in Run 1.
11Not included in blue-collar and white-collar regressions.

to support unionization. Thus, it would appear
that, while dissatisfaction with wages, fringes, and
working conditions provides the initial stim ulus to
unionization, concern for this m ust be quite severe
before a m ajority will support unionization as an
option for im proving these conditions.10
For white-collar workers, dissatisfaction with the
content of their jobs exerted a som ew hat greater
effect on propensity to unionize than did dissatis­
faction with the bread and butter aspects o f the
job. Still, however, dissatisfaction with bread and

butter aspects o f the jo b was significant in the
white-collar equation. This implies that the m otiva­
tion to unionize for both white-collar and bluecollar workers is influenced by their econom ic
conditions, but that w hite-collar workers are also
m ore m otivated to support unionization when
dissatisfied with the content, scope, and organiza­
tion o f their jobs.
D is s a tisfa c tio n w ith w ages a n d eco n o m ic
benefits can arise both because their absolute levels
are perceived to be below some acceptable stan d ­
ard or because of inequities that are perceived in
one’s wages or in the way in which working
conditions are adm inistered. W orkers norm ally
have som e com parison in m ind when evaluating
their ow n conditions. How ever, we can also
directly assess the effects o f perceptions o f inequi­
table wages, as workers were asked the extent to
which they perceived their wages to be equitable
relative to others doing the same type o f work. A
significant negative correlation was found betw een
perceptions o f equity and propensity to unionize
for the overall sam ple and for white-collar workers.
Thus, it is not only the level o f wages and other
terms and conditions o f em ploym ent that influence
w orkers’ willingness to unionize but also, in at least
the case o f white-collar workers, the extent to
which w orkers’ wages are perceived to be inequita­
ble relative to others doing sim ilar work.
Desire fo r influence. W hile dissatisfaction with jo b
conditions m ay provide the initial stim ulus for
unionization, not all workers are likely to turn
im m ediately to unions as a way o f coping with
these problem s. W orkers have alternatives for
influencing unsatisfactory working conditions. N ot
all workers believe it is their right or desire to have
greater participation on their jobs. Furtherm ore,
am ong those who believe it is their right or are
interested in having greater influence, only those
who are unable to influence their work environ­
m ent through other, m ore inform al, individualistic,
or em ployer-initiated participation program s are
likely to turn to unions as an alternative.
The correlations betw een the variables m easur­
ing the desire for participation and the difficulty o f
introducing changes on the jo b provide support for
these propositions, though the correlations be­
tween these characteristics and the propensity to
unionize are som ew hat lower than the correlation
on jo b dissatisfaction. However, the correlations
do indicate that workers interested in unionization
see it as both a m eans o f introducing greater
participation on the jo b and for overcom ing
em ployer resistance to change or to dealing with

In this study, the coefficients on the instrumen­
tality index tended to be approximately three times
as large as those on the big-labor-image index,
reinforcing the view that American workers ap­
proach the decision to unionize in very pragmatic
terms. They are apparently less influenced by their
general image of labor in society or by their
general views of the labor movement than they are
by their judgments about what unions actually do
for their members.

job-related problems. In fact, a majority of the
respondents who both desired greater participation
and reported experiencing difficulty in getting
employers to make changes on their jobs support­
ed unionization.11
Again, differences between white-collar and
blue-collar workers were found with these two
measures. For the white-collar workers, a belief
about the rights of workers to participate exerted
stronger effects on their propensity to unionize
than did the difficulty they experienced in making
changes on their jobs. For blue-collar workers, the
opposite was true; difficulty of change outweighed
beliefs about participation.

Demographic determinants. A common theme
running through much of the popular speculation
about the future of the labor movement is that
unions will have a difficult time organizing because
of the changing demographic, industrial, occupa­
tional, and regional characteristics of the labor
force. Consequently, the relationship between each
of these characteristics and the propensity to join
unions was examined again both before and after
controlling the psychological or attitudinal charac­
teristics summarized in the previous section.
In general, findings concerning the demographic
characteristics suggest there are no specific sub­
groups in the population that are consistently
unwilling to join a union if their job conditions
warrant unionization. At the same time, there were
no specific subgroups, with the exception of
nonwhite workers, that appeared to be willing to
join unions as a matter of course. That is, holding
job conditions constant, younger workers were as
willing (or unwilling) to join unions as older
workers, women at least as willing as men, and

Benefits versus costs. Workers who are dissatisfied
with their present conditions and seek greater
participation and influence still must decide
whether the benefits of unionization in their
particular situation outweigh the costs associated
with it. Here is where the general beliefs workers
hold about unions enter into the process of
deciding whether to vote for unionization. Workers
who are more ideologically predisposed toward
unions or have more favorable images of unions
could be expected to support unionization in their
particular situations. The recent empirical studies
of representation elections cited earlier in this
article have found very strong relationships be­
tween general images of unions and workers’
voting behavior.

Most vote, few mm for office
nificantly more active in their unions than their
counterparts. Members with college educations were
significantly more likely to run for union office, with
the highest propensity among those in or approach­
ing their prime working years.
There were no significant differences between men
and women in the propensity to vote or to run for
office. However, blacks and other minorities were
only half as likely to run for office (8 percent
compared with 15 percent) and were significantly less
likely to vote in union elections (53 percent versus 69
percent). Professional and managerial unionists were
most likely to run for office (25 percent and 20
percent, respectively) while clerical union members
were least likely (3 percent). Although the regional
variations were not significant, there was a lower rate
of voting and candidacy among union members in
the Northeast relative to the rest of the country.
Similarly, again, although the overall distribution
was not significantly different, union members in the
largest establishments (2,000 employees or more)
were least likely (3.3 percent) to run for union office.

One set of questions in the survey dealt with the
level of participation of members in their trade
unions. The respondents were asked whether in the
last 2 years they had (1) voted in a union election, (2)
attended a union meeting, (3) run for a union office,
and/or (4) filed a grievance. The responses indicated
that (1) 68 percent had voted in a union election, (2)
67 percent had attended at least one union meeting,
(3) 13 percent had run for office, and (4) 19 percent
had filed a grievance.
From these data, an overall index of union
participation was calculated (by weighting each form
of participation equally) and regressed on the
demographic characteristics discussed in earlier
sections of this article. The objective was not to test a
formal model of union participation but rather to
identify whether union activists were underrepresent­
ed or overrepresented by any of the demographic,
occupational, regional, or industry categories.
Results show that older members, members with
more education, and members who scored higher on
the desire for participation on the job were sig­


Benefits the main factor. W hen nonunion respond­
ents were asked why they would vote for or against
unionization, the m ost frequently cited reason for
supporting unionization was that unions would
improve wages and fringe benefits. Twelve percent
of the union supporters cited this as the m ajor
reason for preferring unionization. The second
m ost im portant reason, cited by 6 percent o f the
union supporters, was that unions w ould represent
the w orkers’ interests in dealing with their em ploy­
er. O ther reasons cited include unions’ ability to
improve working conditions, provide jo b security,
ensure fair treatm ent, im prove working hours,
im prove safety and health, an d handle w orkers’
grievances. Clearly, these verbal responses rein­
force the concerns workers have for the econom ic
and other traditional aspects o f their jobs.
The m ajor reason w orkers gave for voting
against unionization was th at a union was not
needed on their jo b —the jo b was satisfactory as it
now was. Tw enty percent o f those opposed to
unionization gave this response. The second m ost
com m on reason cited for opposing unions was that
the w orker preferred to handle problem s individu­
ally with the em ployer. T en percent o f the union
opponents gave this response. The next m ost
com m on response reflects a negative image o f
labor unions; the respondent d idn’t approve o f
unions (8 percent). Finally, only 1 percent o f the
workers indicated th at the prim ary reason for
opposing unionization was a fear o f em ployer
retaliation or closure o f the plant resulting from

white-collar workers apparently as willing as bluecollar workers.
Pro-union white-collar workers were (1) more
concerned with pay inequities and fringe benefits
problem s than with the absolute levels of their
wages, (2) m ore interested in participation in
decision m aking, (3) m ore likely to support
unionization when dissatisfied with the content o f
their jobs, and (4) less likely to avoid unionization
because they hold a negative image of the labor
m ovem ent. Fem ale w hite-collar w orkers were
more likely to support unionization than were their
male counterparts. Blue-collar workers, however,
were m ost likely to turn to unions when dissatisfied
with wages, benefits, and health and safety hazards
on their jobs. Y ounger blue-collar workers were
som ew hat m ore willing to jo in unions than were
older blue-collar workers.
Including regional variables in the analysis also
provided som ew hat surprising results. Although it
has often been argued th at Southern workers are
less interested in joining unions than their N o rth ­
ern counterparts, the negative coefficient on the
Southern variable was significant only for whitecollar workers. Southern blue-collar workers were,
therefore, ju st as willing to jo in unions when their
jo b conditions w arranted unionization as were
workers in the N ortheast.
However, there appeared to be a m ore negative
nonunion effect found am ong both blue- and
white-collar workers in the N orth C entral region of
the country. W orkers in the W est appeared
insignificantly different from the workers in the
N ortheast in their willingness to join trade unions.
The N orth C entral effect rem ained significant,
even when the sample was broken down into
white-collar and blue-collar subgroups.

Evaluating union performance
W hat do A m erican union m em bers expect their
trade unions to be doing? H ow well are unions
fulfilling these expectations? These are perhaps two
o f the m ost critical questions for evaluating the
responsiveness o f trade unions to their m em bers.
Inform ation on w orkers’ views can be useful for
tracing trends or changes in the responsiveness o f
the A m erican trade union m ovem ent over time
and for identifying the directions union m em bers
would like to see their organizations m ove in the

The last variable exam ined was the size of the
establishm ent in which the worker was employed.
Size was m easured by a series o f categorical
variables, because initial ex am in atio n o f the
distribution o f responses showed th at the workers
in the smallest (fewer than 10 workers) and the
largest (1,000 workers or m ore) establishm ents
were least willing to jo in trade unions. Those in the
in term ed iate categories w ere som ew hat m ore
prone to unionization. Relative to the smallest
establishm ents, workers in the interm ediate size
organizations were m ost likely to be willing to
support unionization. These results m ay reflect the
close interpersonal relationship betw een workers
and employers in the very small organizations and
the effectiveness o f the very large nonunion
employers in reducing the incentives to jo in unions
by paying higher wages and benefits and by using
sophisticated personnel techniques and policies.12

Greater expectations. W orkers were asked two sets
of questions concerning their expectations from
their unions a n d th eir evaluations o f un io n
perform ance. T he first set o f questions asked
m em bers to rate on a four-point scale how m uch
effort they felt unions should be putting into
various areas. T he second question asked how well
their unions actually were doing in the same areas.

(r = .70) rank order correlation betw een the ratings
o f union priorities and union perform ance.13 This
indicates that unions were perceived to be per­
form ing best on the issues o f highest priority to
their m em bers. Second, the data further confirm
the centrality o f the traditional econom ic issues to
union m em bers. Third, the results indicate that
m em bers’ expectations for their unions exceeded
current union perform ance. On average, there was
approxim ately a 0.5- to 0.7-point difference or gap
(on a four-point scale) betw een the expectations
m em bers had for their unions and their percep­
tions o f union perform ance.
W hen the gap betw een expectations and perfor­
m ance on each issue was exam ined (by subtracting
from the percentage o f the respondents who
indicated they w ould like to see their unions
exerting a lot o f effort on a dim ension the
percentage o f respondents who indicated their
union was actually doing very well on th at
dim ension), the im portance o f im proving the
internal adm inistrative aspects o f trade unions
again was observed. These differences are shown in
the following tabulation:

The list o f issues included in these questions can be
grouped into three categories: First, the traditional
bread and butter issues of wages, fringe benefits,
jo b security, and safety and health; second, the
quality of work; third, the internal adm inistration
o f the union.
The responses of the union m em bers to these
questions are presented in tables 3 and 4. The
greatest concern of the union m em bers was for
increasing the responsiveness o f the u nion’s inter­
nal adm inistration. The highest priority rating was
given to the concern for im proving the handling o f
m em ber grievances. The second highest was given
to increasing the am ount o f feedback the union
provides its m em bers. In addition, the need to
increase the influence th at m em bers have in
running the union was rated as the fourth m ost
im portant priority. Thus, three o f the top four
concerns of the union m em bers reflected their
interest in im proving the governance o f their
union. The second m ajor area o f concern was in
the traditional issues—wages, fringe benefits, jo b
security, and working conditions. The concern for
fringe benefits, in fact, was the third m ost im por­
tant issue, while wages, jo b security, and safety and
health issues ranked fifth through seventh, respec­
tively. Issues concerning the quality o f work were
given the three lowest priorities.

Handling members’ grievances ........................
Providing more say in union ......................
Providing more feedback
from union ......................................................
Getting better fringe benefits ...........................
Improving job security ................................
Improving safety and health ...........................
Make jobs more interesting ...................
Getting better wages ........................................
More say in how to do their jobs .............
More say in how business is run ...............

The data pose som ew hat o f a dilem m a for
unions, however, for betw een 60 and 75 percent of
all respondents w anted their unions to exert some
or a lot o f effort in im proving the quality o f work
aspects of their jobs. Thus, while workers expected
their union to give the highest priority to the
internal adm inistration and traditional issues, a
m ajority also w anted their unions to exert an effort
to improve the quality o f work. Consequently,
w hile w o rk ers still view ed th e ir u n io n s as
representatives o f their econom ic interests, they
also were looking for an expansion o f the dom ain
of union activity into these m ore uncharted areas.
The central determ inant o f w orkers’ ratings of
their unions’ perform ance is their degree o f jo b
dissatisfaction with bread and b utter issues or the
existence o f problem s with these issues. U nion
perform ance was rated higher and m em bers were
more satisfied with union perform ance when these
problem s had been effectively addressed and when
workers were satisfied with these aspects o f their
jobs. Older m em bers and m em bers in the South
rated their unions significantly higher than did
younger and non-Southern respondents.
Three m ajor findings emerge from a com parison
o f the data on w hat union m em bers expect their
unions to do with the data on how well unions are
actually doing. First, there is a strong positive

S ize o f



In general, however, regression analysis showed
few significant differences in the priorities o f the
individual respondents or in the extent to which

Tabs® 3. Umtast memteir priori^®® for union S©®u©s'
[In percent]

Job security
Safety /health
Say on job .
Interesting jobs
Say in union
Say in business
Feedback from

A lot







im b















'Union.members were asked how much effort they thought their unions should be putting into
various issues.
! Degrees of effort were valued from 1 to 4 points, with “ little effort" equaling 1 and "a lot of
effort," 4. The mean is the average value of response.


negative view o f trade unions or to the prospects of
joining a union. Y ounger workers, wom en, and
higher educated workers are no less willing to jo in
a union when their jo b conditions w arrant it than
their older, male, or less educated counterparts.
Even the com m on stereotype o f the anti-union
Southern worker does not show up in these data.
Therefore, the changing regional and dem ographic
com position o f the labor force should pose no new
barriers to organizing.
On the negative side, the m ajority o f workers
apparently only turn to a union when (1) greatly
dissatisfied with their jo b an d econom ic condi­
tions, (2) they desire m ore influence over their jo b
conditions, and (3) other form s o f influence do not
work. U nions are seen by a large num ber o f
workers as a strategy o f last resort rather than as a
n atu ral or preferred m eans o f im proving jo b
conditions. W hite-collar workers are especially
concerned with the threats unionization m ight
pose to their individual autonom y and independ­
ence. This suggests that potential m em bers will
have to be convinced that a union can respond to
their specific sources o f dissatisfaction and provide
channels for effective participation and organiza­
tional change.
A lthough the survey data do not provide specific
detailed suggestions for w hat unions need to do to
im prove their adm inistration, they clearly show
that this concern outweighs even m em bers’ con­
cerns for substantive im provem ents in their condi­
tions o f em ploym ent. The data docum ent that
union m em bers expect their unions to m aintain
their historical focus on seeking better wages,
fringe benefits, jo b s security, and working condi­
tions. It is clear, therefore, that no shift in the focus
o f union priorities would be tolerated by the
m ajority o f union m em bers. A ny efforts m ade to
im prove the quality o f work m ust be a supplem ent
to, not a replacem ent for, efforts in the traditional
areas o f union concern.

Tab!® 4. Evaluation of union performance1
[In percent]

Not good
at all

Not too




W a g e s .........................................
Fringes .
Job security ...............................
Safety/health .............................
Say on job .................................
Interesting job ..........................
Say in union...............................
Say in business ......................
Feedback from union ..............
Handling grievances................






1Union members were asked how good a job their unions were doing in addressing various issues.
2 Ratings were valued on a 4-point scale, with "Not good at all” worth 1 point and "Very good"
worth 4. The mean is the average value of response.

they perceived their union as effectively respond­
ing to their needs. C onsequently, while these data
are useful for giving us an overall view o f the
priorities o f union m em bers in general and their
views o f the perform ance o f their unions, they do
not provide m uch insight into the conditions under
w hich u n io n s are re sp o n d in g m ore or less
effectively to their m em bers’ interests.
General satisfaction prevails. The final question
asked o f the respondents was “ H ow satisfied are
you with your trade union?” The responses showed
a trade union m em bership that was relatively well
satisfied with its unions. Twenty-five percent o f the
respondents indicated that they were very satisfied
with their union, 48 percent indicated they were
satisfied, 17 percent indicated they were dissat­
isfied, and 10 percent indicated they were very
dissatisfied. Thus, ju st under three-fourths o f all of
the union m em bers surveyed indicated a general
degree of satisfaction with their union. Subsequent
regression analysis again confirm ed that the only
significant correlate o f union satisfaction was
satisfaction with the traditional econom ic or bread
and butter aspects o f w orkers’ jobs. Beyond this,
there were no consistent significant dem ographic,
regions, or occupational groups that differed
significantly on this satisfaction score.

The next step
Implications for organized labor

A m ore intensive analysis o f the priorities o f
union m em bers is needed (the analysis would be
equally relevant for those interested in the n o n u n ­
ion sample). The research presented in this article
deals only with the general m easures o f w hat the
overall sam ple o f union m em bers expected their
unions to be doing. M ore extensive inform ation is
also provided in the survey on the tradeoffs
workers w ould m ake across a broad array o f wage,
benefit, and working conditions options. Analysis
o f these data by sex, race, occupation, an d age
groups could provide a better picture o f the
relative priorities o f workers.

These data suggest both positive and negative
predictions for the ability o f unions to attract new
m em bers. On the positive side, extrapolating these
sam ple results to the entire labor force indicates
that if all workers who prefer to unionize (oneth ird o f the unorganized work force14) were
organized, the size o f the labor m ovem ent would
nearly double. The greatest source of potential
grow th appears to be am ong non whites; a twothirds m ajority o f nonw hite workers prefers to
unionize. In addition, none of the growing seg­
m ents o f the labor force exhibits an inherently


perceptions o f trade unions in society an d union
m em bers’ perceptions o f the responsiveness o f
their ow n unions. The availability o f these d a ta on
a continuous basis should m ake a m ajor contribu­
tion to stim ulating needed research on the role o f
trade unions in A m erican society.

Perhaps, the m ost im portant next step in this
research is to replicate the survey periodically in
future years. Longitudinal d a ta collected from the
same panel o f respondents would enable causeand-effect relations to be identified m ore readily.
The data sum m arized in this article provide an
initial baseline for m easuring trends in w orkers’

FOOTNOTES10 A satisfaction squared term was entered into the regression
equation to test whether it outperformed or added to the explanatory
power o f the additive specification o f this variable. The results did not
significantly differ when the squared term was used as a substitute for
the additive term. Including both terms in the equation did not
significantly increase the explanatory power o f the model.

1 For a discussion o f opinion polls covering selected views o f trade
unions between 1940 and 1966, see Derek C. Bok and John T.
Dunlop, Labor and the American Community (New York, Simon and
Schuster, 1970), pp. 11-19.
2 This article is condensed from a report submitted to the Assistant
Secretary o f Labor for Policy, Evaluation, and Research under
contract No. B -9-e-8-2899. For a general discussion o f the survey
results, see Graham L. Staines and Robert P. Quinn, “American
workers evaluate the quality of their jobs,” Monthly Labor Review,
January 1979, pp. 3-12.

11 An interaction term measuring the combined effects o f a high
desire for participation and a high perceived difficulty o f achieving
changes on the job was tested in several regression runs. The
explanatory power o f this interaction term was approximately equal
to the combined effects o f desire for influence and difficulty o f change
when entered in their additive form. The interaction term did not add
significant explanatory power when included with the additive form o f
these two variables.

3 Information on the sample drawn for this survey is contained in
Robert P. Quinn and Graham L. Staines, The 1977 Quality o f
Employment Survey (University o f Michigan, Survey Research Center,
1978), Section Two.

12 A discriminant analysis also was performed on these data as a
supplement to, and a check on, the regression results. The same profile
o f coefficients was obtained in both procedures. The discriminant
model was able to accurately classify 73 percent o f the “no” voters
and 72 percent of the “yes” voters.

4 The clusters reported here and in table 3 were derived from factor
analyses that are available from the author upon request.
5 Bok and Dunlop, Labor, pp. 13-18.
6 Bok and Dunlop, Labor, p. 13.
7 E. Wight Bakke, “Why Workers Join Unions,” Personnel, July
1945, p. 2.
8 Note that the question being asked o f the workers in this sample is
whether they would vote for union representation, not whether they
would join a union. Thus, the argument that union benefits are public
goods that can be obtained without actually becoming a member and
paying union dues need not be addressed here. For a discussion o f
this problem, see Mancur Olsen, The Logic o f Collective Action
(Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1971).

13 This correlation is almost identical to the one reported in a
similar study o f the relationship between the importance o f alternative
dimensions o f union activists jobs and the effectiveness o f collective
bargaining on these job dimensions. In the earlier study, the rank
order correlation was .71. Thomas A. Kochan, David B. Lipsky, and
Lee Dyer, “Collective Bargaining and the Quality o f Work: The
Views o f Local Union Activists,” Proceedings o f the 27th Annual
Meeting o f the Industrial Relations Research Association (Madison,
Wis., IRRA, 1975), p. 159.

9 See for example Julius Getman, Stephen Goldberg, and Jeanne
Herman, Union Representation Elections: Law and Reality (New York,
Russel Sage, 1977); Chester A. Schreisheim, “Job Satisfaction,
Attitude Toward Unions, and Voting in a Union Representation
Election,” Journal o f Applied Psychology —1978.

14 Approximately 79 million employees are in the nonagricultural
labor force, o f which approximately 22 million are already members
o f labor organizations. Thirty-three percent o f the remaining 57
million unorganized workers provide an estimated 19 million potential
union members.



Assistance to labor management committees
Sec . 6. (a) This section may be cited as the “ Labor Management
Cooperation Act of 1978.”
(b) It is the purpose of this section—
(1) to improve communication between representatives of
labor and management;
(2) to provide workers and employers with opportunities
to study and explore new and innovative joint approaches to
achieving organizational effectiveness;
(3) to assist workers and employers in solving problems of
mutual concern not susceptible to resolution within the col­
lective bargaining process;
(4) to study and explore ways of eliminating potential
problems which reduce the competitiveness and inhibit the
economic development of the plant, area, or industry;
(5) to enhance the involvement of workers in making deci­
sions that affect their working lives;
(6) to expand and improve working relationships between
workers and managers; and
(7) to encourage free collective bargaining by establishing
continuing mechanisms for comm unication between
employers and their employees through Federal assistance to
the formation and operation of labor management commit­



(2) Title II of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 1947, is
amended by adding after section 205 the following new section:
“ Sec . 205A. (a)(1) The [Federal Mediation and Conciliation]
Service is authorized and directed to provide assistance in the
establishment and operation of plant, area, and industrywide labor
management committees which—
“ (A) have been organized jointly by employers and labor
organizations representing employees in that plant, area, or
industry; and
“ (B) are established for the purpose of improving labor
management relationships, job security, organizational ef­
fectiveness, enhancing economic development or involving
workers in decisions affecting their jobs including improving
communication with respect to subjects of mutual interest
and concern.
“ (2) The Service is authorized and directed to enter into contracts
and to make grants, where necessary or appropriate, to fulfill its
responsibilities under this section.
----- Excerpts from Comprehensive Employment
and Training Act of 1978


‘P art II. Recent Developments
in Labor-Management
forces supporting and opposing change at 10 joint pro­
jects. Leonard A. Schlesinger and Richard E. Walton
analyze the reactions of union and management par­
ticipants at eight firms.
The increasingly popular flexitime systems which
allow employees to adjust their work schedules to fit
personal needs and preferences are discussed in two ar­
ticles. One, by Janice Neipert Hedges, analyzes pro­
blems and issues of flexible schedules; the other, by
Robert T. Golembiewski and Richard J. Hilles, reports
favorably on initial experiences at a major phar­
maceutical company.
Robert Zager reports on formal and informal ar­
rangements developed by unions and management at a
General Electric plant to deal with workforce ad­
justments among technical employees resulting from the
introduction of computerized drafting techniques.

This section includes articles primarily concerned
with joint programs to deal with workplace matters
usually considered outside the scope of the collective
bargaining process. Experiments in the private and
public sectors are covered.
Edgar Weinberg reviews past experiences with labormanagement committees and describes recent initiatives
at three different levels—plant, community, and in­
dustry. The process of helping labor and management
perceive and solve joint problems is examined by three
mediators, John R. Stepp, Robert P. Baker, and
Jerome T. Barrett. Three possible remedies for troubled
labor-management relationships are described: Rela­
tionships by Objectives programs; labor-management
committees; and joint training programs.
The benefits and problems of the pioneering qualityof-worklife projects at the General Motors Corp. are
presented in two articles: one by a gm vice president,
Stephen H. Fuller; the other by a United Auto Workers
vice president, Irving Bluestone. The objectives and
results of another uaw cooperative project, the qualityof-worklife program at Harman International In­
dustries, Inc., in Bolivar, Tennessee, are assessed by
Barry A. Macy. Another case study, by Ted Mills, deals
with a union-management experiment with autonomous
work groups at a small Pennsylvania coal mine. Three
cooperative programs, including a joint committee in
the retail food industry, a labor-management committee
at a small industrial plant, and a quality-of-worklife
project at a hospital, are evaluated by James W.
Two articles draw conclusions about the process of
establishing work restructuring programs from the ex­
perience of a number of union-management projects.
Edward E. Lawler III and John A. Drexler examine

Three articles deal with cooperative programs in the
public sector. James E. Martin describes the operation
of joint union-management committees in six Federal
agencies in a large Midwestern city. The role of re­
searchers in the work of the New York State Continuity
of Employment Committee, a joint arrangement set up
in 1976 to handle worker displacement problems, is
discussed by Todd lick. Anna C. Goldoff reports on the
views of union and management representatives in­
volved in the economy program of the Joint LaborManagement Productivity Committee of the New York
City civil service.
The last article in part II, by Michael Conte and Ar­
nold S. Tannenbaum, analyzes several aspects of per­
formance of employee-owned companies, including
profitability, productivity, and job attitudes, and finds
tentatively some evidence of positive effects.


Labor-management cooperation:
a report on recent initiatives
Labor and management in several enterprises
have suspended traditional fears to
deal jointly with productivity and
related problems, areas not generally
covered by collective bargaining contracts
E d g a r W e in b e r g

In recent years, there has been increased interest in
cooperative approaches, involving both labor and
management, to productivity improvement. One of
the most important factors has been mutual con­
cern about job security and survival in older plants
and industries facing inflationary cost pressures and
international competition. Moreover, many observers
believe that with a highly educated work force, it
would be beneficial to give employees a chance for
more participation and greater insight into decision­
making, which in the long run could enhance em­
ployee motivation for productivity improvement. In
addition, some favor joint labor-management ap­
proaches as the means to introduce changes in the
quality of working life.
Joint committees— a direct outgrowth of these
perceived needs— are formal advisory bodies through
which proposals for improving production processes
or working conditions which affect productivity can
be discussed. Created through collective bargaining,
they do not deal with negotiable issues of wages and
fringe benefits, working conditions, or grievances,
but are limited to issues of mutual interest not
usually covered by written agreements.
Labor-management cooperation through joint
committees to work out methods of improving the
quantity and quality of production has been disEdgar W einberg is assistant director, N ational Center for
Productivity and the Quality o f W orking Life.

cussed since the 1920’s, but until recently there have
been relatively few cases in peacetime where this
type of relationship has been adopted. The sparsity
of cases is related to deep-seated beliefs in the United
States about the roles of unions, employees, and
managers. Sumner Slichter, Robert Livernash, and
James Healy cited three reasons why management
does not favor cooperative activities: managers
underestimate workers’ potential contribution; they
fear loss of prestige and authority; and they are con­
cerned that giving workers a voice would strengthen
the union’s position.1 Unions and employees, on their
part, often equate productivity with loss of jobs or
greater worker effort, or fear that cooperation might
weaken their ability to bargain for their primary
Nonetheless, such committees have been set up
in several enterprises. This article describes recent
initiatives in labor-management cooperation at three
different levels— plant, community, and industry—
and discusses factors affecting its wider adoption.
A common thread of recent joint efforts is the tradi­
tional concern with issues of job preservation or
improvement and company or industry survival. In
contrast to European developments, the labor-man­
agement committees discussed in this article have
been established voluntarily in efforts to solve
specific problems, rather than as responses to wellarticulated demands for “industrial democracy,”
co-determination, or other forms of power sharing.

From the Review of April 1976


Early approval
Fifty years ago it was hoped that cooperation
would become the norm in the “mature” stage of
collective bargaining when unions no longer would
have to fight for the right to exist. William Green, the
president of the American Federation of Labor, saw
advantages for both unions and management in co­
operative relationships which utilized the ideas
and judgment of those “who handle tools and mate­
rials.” 2 Later, Philip Murray, president of the Con­
gress of Industrial Organizations, believed that once
employers fully and sincerely accepted unions, orga­
nized labor had some responsibility in achieving
efficient plant operations.
The general idea that unions were willing to co­
operate with management on productivity was put
forth to counter employers’ anti-union charges dur­
ing the 1920’s that trade unions reduced efficiency,
raised costs, and opposed technological progress.
This was a time when the movement to eliminate
waste through scientific management was attracting
wide support.

B & O Plan. One of the best known cases of unionmanagement cooperation was the Baltimore and
Ohio (B & O) Railroad Plan. Introduced in 1923,
a few years after railway unions had proposed the
Plumb Plan for nationalization of the failing rail­
road system, it was cited as proof that unionmanagement cooperation was workable and mutually
beneficial. It established an important model that
has, in many respects, been followed in other in­
Otto Beyer, a B & O management engineer, and
W. H. Johnston, president of the Machinists Union,
conceived the idea of forming committees of union
and management representatives to consider matters
outside the scope of usual collective bargaining over
wages and hours and grievances. Johnston, a Social­
ist, believed that union-management cooperation
was a prime necessity for their mutual survival and
Joint committees in the B & O repair shops met
regularly to deal with worker suggestions for elimi­
nating waste, increasing efficiency, improving
working conditions, stabilizing employment, main­
taining the volume of work, and acquiring new
business. Almost 31,000 suggestions were made in
the first 15 years of the B & O Plan, and they made
an important contribution to productivity. The em­
ployees benefited in better working conditions,
somewhat higher wages, fewer grievances, improved
apprentice training and, prior to the depression,
stable employment.4

The depression of the 1930’s dried up workers’
interest in cost-saving suggestions, and the Plan
disintegrated. As unemployment mounted, unions
gave little attention to plans for improving pro­
World War II experience. The most extensive experi­
ment with labor-management production commit­
tees took place in World War II, when industry was
trying to increase military output in the face of
shortages of labor, materials, and energy. Early in
1942, the War Production Board, with the backing
of the AFL, CIO, National Association of Manu­
facturers, and the Chamber of Commerce, appealed
to employers and unions to organize joint labormanagement productivity committees on a voluntary
basis. A small unit was created in the Board to pro­
vide guidelines and monitor progress, but the devel­
opment of activities was left to the parties themselves.
Between 1942 and 1945, there were about 5,000
committees functioning, most of them conducting
bond drives, blood banks, carpools, and similar
activities to boost morale. Most of the committees
were in unionized plants, with heavy concentrations
in steel, ordnance, and shipbuilding. About 1,000
dealt with improving productive efficiency, focusing
on activities to reduce waste of energy and materials,
improve quality, cut machine downtime, and improve
tool and product design and equipment maintenance.
In a definitive assessment of the World War II
experience, one observer concluded that in the
opinion of many employers and union officials, these
committees had helped to increase productivity and
had enhanced mutual understanding of each other’s
problem.5 No precise productivity measurement,
however, is available.
When the war emergency ended, most of the com­
mittees closed down, and the War Production Board
unit ceased to function. In Canada, the government
decided to continue its support of joint labormanagement committees and established a unit in
the Labor Department for the purpose of continuing
assistance to committees. There are about 2,700
committees currently in operation there.6
Postwar committees. Since the end of World War II,
there has been a continuing but limited interest in
formal labor-management cooperation for produc­
tivity. Unions have concentrated on trying to obtain,
through collective bargaining, their share of rising
productivity in the form of higher wages and fringe
benefits and greater job security, leaving to manage­
ment the responsibility of improving efficiency. By
pressing for “more and more,” unions believe they
stimulate productivity-enhancing innovation and pro­

vide the basis of the mass consumption needed for
mass production. Joint committees for increasing
productivity, therefore, have been formed only in
exceptional situations.
One of these— the Union-Management Coopera­
tive Committee system of the Tennessee Valley
Authority— has operated since the 1940’s with
strong support from both sides. Joint committees
covering construction, plant, and office workers con­
sider suggestions for improvement and solicit solu­
tions to specific problems. No cash awards are made
for ideas accepted, yet participation has been rela­
tively high. There has been general agreement that
the TV A program has contributed to efficiency and
has helped to sustain high employee morale, but
few other government agencies have adopted such
Another significant postwar development in unionmanagement cooperation was the Scanlon Plan,
named after the Steelworker Union official, Joe
Scanlon, who conceived it. Scanlon’s aim ip helping
establish the plan was to assist firms in danger of
going out of business. One of the most important
elements of the plan is a system of joint production
committees to encourage and evaluate suggestions
for work improvement. Other unique features are a
plant-wide incentive scheme based on measuring
plant-wide productivity change and a formula for
distributing productivity savings in the form of
monthly bonuses. Although proponents of the
Scanlon Plan believe that it is applicable to firms
of all sizes, relatively few companies— 300-500 ac­
cording to some estimates— are using the plan.8

to develop general guidelines that local unions and
employers might adapt to their specific situation.
Basic steel. The most extensive on-going program
of labor-management cooperation was begun in
•1971, when the United Steelworkers and the 10
basic steel companies agreed to establish joint com­
mittees on productivity at each plant. Concern over
the steel industry’s lagging productivity in the 1960’s
and the potential loss of jobs because of foreign
imports provided the immediate impetus behind
organizing a formal system of labor-management
cooperation in this industry. Both parties agreed that

The statistical record;
B3LS studies of joint committees
Aside from the examples cited here, only a few co l­
lective bargaining contracts have included provisions
for labor-management productivity committees. A
survey b y the Bureau o f Labor Statistics o f 1,773
major agreements in effect in 1963-64 found 44
agreements with provisions for joint com m ittees deal­
ing with production problems. In 1973, 64 out o f
1,311 major agreements contained such provisions;
in 1974, the number increased to 97 out o f 1,550,
with m ost o f the com m ittees in the steel industry.
These figures exclude joint production committees
set up under the Scanlon Plan. In addition, there are
labor-management com mittees that deal with safety,
training, and industrial relations issues.
A special BLS study for the N ational Com m ission
on Productivity found joint com m ittees fragile insti­
tutions, but viable under certain circumstances. Of
the 44 contracts with com mittees in the above survey,
half had dropped such provisions in a 1972 resurvey.
The BLS investigation o f six cases found that where
a measure o f success was found, the com m ittee was
a means o f discussing matters not covered by the
contract that were bothering em ployees, and a means
o f getting quick decisions from management, bypass­
ing lower echelons. In som e cases, the industrial rela­
tions benefits probably exceeded productivity gains.
The BLS study highlighted som e conditions o f
success: the crucial role o f key managers and union
officials in sustaining interest; the usefulness o f good
com munications with rank-and-file workers to allay
fears o f displacement; and the usefulness o f good
labor-management relations at the start so a com ­
mittee may survive the early period o f adjustment.
A ll but one o f the com mittees studied by the BLS
functioned in areas not subject to collective bargaining.
The findings are contained in Harry D outy, L aborM anagem ent P roductivity C o m m ittees in A m erican
Industry (W ashington, N ational C om m ission on Pro­
ductivity and Work Quality, M ay 1 9 75), and Charac­
teristics o f M ajor C ollective Bargaining A greem ents,
Bureau o f Labor Statistics Bulletin 1888, July 1, 1974.

Mecemt efforts at cooperation
Since 1971, there have been several significant
developments in labor-management cooperation and
joint consultation. Some have been organized at the
plant level, some at the industry level, and some at
the community level, each addressed to an appro­
priate set of problems. The joint production com­
mittees at the plant level, as in the steel and auto­
mobile industry, directly involve management and
employees in problem-solving to improve the orga­
nization’s performance. Joint committees at the com­
munity level, as in Jamestown, N.Y., set up at the
initiative of community leaders, involve labor and
business leaders in efforts to improve the industrial
labor climate, with the ultimate goal of retaining
jobs in existing plants through modernization, in­
creased productivity, and competitiveness. Coopera­
tion is also taking place at the industry level, as in
the retail food and railroad industries. In such joint
committees, labor and management leaders discuss
broad issues affecting their mutual interests and try


there were critical issues of mutual survival war­
ranting cooperative efforts.
Considered from a longer perspective, the 1971
agreement can be seen as the outcome of an evolu­
tionary process of accommodation. The Steelworkers
and the steel companies had been engaged, over
many years, in joint activities which had built up a
sense of mutual trust between the parties.9 Among
their joint accomplishments was a complex job classi­
fication system for the industry; a highly developed
arbitration system for grievance settlement; and pen­
sion and health benefits. The Joint Basic Education
Program, with Federal financial assistance, provided
opportunities for steelworkers to improve their basic
educational skills. Worker acceptance of produc­
tivity improvements in basic steel is encouraged by
collective bargaining contracts which provide for
supplementary unemployment benefits, early retire­
ment, a 13-week vacation for seniority, and other
measures to cushion the impact of change.
The primary purpose of the program begun in
1971 was to organize joint committees with union
representatives to advise plant management on ways
of improving productivity and promoting the use of
domestic steel. An agreement made in 1974 renewed
the provisions for joint committees, and changed
the name to “Employment Security and Plant Pro­
ductivity Committees.”
The 1971 and 1974 agreements provided Joint
Advisory Committees at each plant, with an industry­
wide committee to coordinate activities and advise
plant committees. It limited the scope of the com­
mittee’s operation so that it would not affect “the
existing rights of either party under any other pro­
vision of the collective bargaining agreement.”
Subjects that plant committees have considered in­
clude the following: avoidance of quality defects,
improved identification of warehoused steel, more
efficient handling of scrap, energy conservation, more
efficient phasing out of old equipment and better
care of new equipment.10
Although about 230 individual joint plant produc­
tivity committees were in operation by the end of
1975, there is little detailed information about their
experience so far. Unlike the Human Relations Com­
mittees of the 1960’s, the Employment Security and
Plant Productivity Committees involve union officers
and members at steel plants rather than being
limited to union and management technicians.
In the first year, unemployment among steel­
workers reportedly delayed the organization of com­
mittees; dissension arose when some union leaders
charged that some supervisors attempted to reduce
manning in a manner contrary to the agreement, and
management accused some unions of trying to use

the committees to take up grievances that could
not be processed through normal procedures.11
The guidelines for joint committees provided the
procedure for resolving such differences about the
local committee’s authority. When either party ques­
tions whether an item falls within a joint committee’s
purview, it is referred to the industry committee for
resolution. Following an initial period of uncer­
tainty, the parties have generally come to an under­
standing about limitations on the scope of committee
One management official of a steel company, in
an account of his experience with introducing the
committee system, stressed the importance of a pre­
paratory period and of establishing a network of
subcommittees in all departments within a plant.
In the beginning, separate classes for management
officials and foremen and union officers and shop
stewards were held to explain the principles of the
agreement. “From the classroom sessions, it became
evident that there were local areas in which people
would like to participate with management in cor­
recting problems they thought existed. This resulted
in the development of what we call circle team
efforts, made up of both supervisors and hourly
personnel in specific areas. It made an attempt to
work out bottlenecks they thought existed within
a department. Some were very successful; others
were not.” 12
Leaders of the Steelworkers Union have said that
the value of Employment Security and Plant Pro­
ductivity Committees, to a great extent, lies in its
contribution to the general acceptance of the Experi­
mental Negotiating Agreement, signed on March 29,
1973.13 This procedure for voluntary arbitration of
any unresolved bargaining issues has largely elimi­
nated the uncertainty at each negotiating period that
encouraged inventory buildups and increased steel
imports, followed by higher unemployment and low
productivity after contract settlements. The ENA
was used to the satisfaction of both parties in the
1974 negotiations and then was accepted as a pro­
cedure for bargaining until 1980. (It should be
noted, however, that there have been no steel strikes
since 1959.)
Automobile industry. Productivity improvement has
long been recognized by management and labor
leaders in the automobile industry as a “sound and
mutually beneficial objective.” The provision for
the annual improvement factor, first introduced in
the 1948 agreement between the United Auto
Workers and major automobile companies, and con­
tinued in subsequent agreements, states that this
wage gain “depends upon technological progress,

better tools, methods, processes and equipment, and
a cooperative attitude on the part of all parties in
such progress.” The acceptance of the annual im­
provement factor, however, has not diminished prob­
lems in the setting of work standards on the job.
Such issues affecting job conditions of assembly line
workers have long been a source of dispute and
negotiation at the plant level.
In the past few years, there has also been increas­
ing concern about absenteeism and turnover which
adversely affect productivity and work quality, espe­
cially on production lines involving sequential opera­
tions. Some automobile companies started experi­
ments in the early 1970’s to deal with problems
affecting working conditions without the participa­
tion of the UAW. In 1973, after union protest, a
joint national committee was established in each
automobile company to work on a year-round basis .
on efforts to improve the quality of working life.
The 1973 memorandum of agreement between the
union and General Motors notes “the desirability of
mutual effort to improve the quality of work life
for the employees.” It states that projects have been
undertaken by management with the union’s partici­
pation involving organizational development in order
“to improve the quality of work life.” The agreement
notes that such efforts would benefit the worker “by
making work a more satisfying experience . . ., the
Corporation by leading to a reduction in employee
absenteeism and turnover . . ., and the consumer
through improvement in the quality of the products
manufactured.” 14
The National GM-UAW Committee to Improve
the Quality of Work Life was established in 1973
to review and evaluate corporate programs to im­
prove the work environment of employees repre­
sented by the union, to develop experiments and
projects in that area, to maintain records of its
meetings, deliberations, and all experiments and
evaluations it conducts, to report to the company
and the union on the results of its activities, and to
arrange for any outside counsel which it feels is
necessary or desirable, the expenses of which to be
shared equally by both parties. Under the com­
mittee’s sponsorship, a number of joint quality of
work projects are underway. At the plant level, a
key feature of these projects is a joint labor-manage­
ment committee which is empowered to plan and
supervise the progress of experiments, including the
hiring of consultants. While productivity improve­
ment is not an explicit goal, quality-of-work projects
often address work problems that affect the plant’s
production performance.
One example of quality-of-work projects with
UAW participation is the joint experiment with the

Rockwell Standard Division of Rockwell Interna­
tional. An agreement was signed in August 1974 to
conduct a joint project at a new plant to be opened
in Battle Creek, Mich., with 400 expected to be
employed by 1977. The company and the union
agree in advance to use several innovative concepts,
including training of employees for widened respon­
sibilities to maximize job interchangeability and
manpower mobility, establishment of “work team”
concepts within departments, or specified work areas,
or both, employee participation in establishing pro­
duction standards with due regard to competitive
factors and job security for employees involved, em­
ployee participation in the determination of policies
covering overtime, work-break periods, layoffs, and
leaves of absence which would take individual needs
into consideration, and emphasis on foremanemployee relationships designed to resolve work
problems at the lowest possible level.15 While the
recession has delayed full application, the agreement
is still in force.
Another joint experiment is the Bolivar, Ten­
nessee, Work Improvement Program established in
1973 between the UAW and the Harmon Inter­
national Company, a producer of automobile mirrors
with a work force of 8,700. With foundation grants
and Federal financial support, and at a later stage,
company funds, a social scientist, selected with
union approval, has assisted the union and manage­
ment in designing experiments to eliminate sources
of discontent. Following an employee attitude survey
to identify major problems, a labor-management
committee was formed to review the results and
organize work improvement experiments. Small
groups of workers and supervisors jointly decide on
ways of changing work methods with the objective
of improving both productivity and job satisfaction.
One of the projects involved a new reward system
giving workers exceeding production standards in
less than 8 hours the option of earning more money
or taking off time. The result was an increase in
productivity and a request for in-plant training

The railroad industry. Following almost a decade of
dispute over manning, the Railroad Labor-Manage­
ment Committee, composed of the presidents of 11
railroads, the industry association, and 6 union
organizations, was set up in January 1968, to study
jointly matters of mutual interest, such as safety,
research, education, and legislation, in a setting re­
moved from the pressures of the bargaining table.
It stemmed from a growing awareness that solutions
to many of the industry’s underlying financial and

economic difficulties are matters of concern to both
The committee’s progress has been slow. Study
projects on specific problem areas have been under­
taken, with funding by the industry, labor, and in
some cases, the Federal Railroad Administration.
A 14-man Task Force on Terminals made up of
6 union, 6 railroad, and 2 government officials, was
established in 1973 to develop and test innovative
experiments in terminal operations. The objective
was to increase the reliability, speed, and efficiency
of car movements through terminals, which have
been a bottleneck in the industry.
A case study of a specific terminal—the St. Louis
terminal of the Missouri Pacific Railroad— was
decided. A joint labor-management team was
assigned to “identify barriers to efficiency, propose
changes in management and labor practices and
government policies and regulations, and conduct
on-line experiments designed to test the effectiveness
of the proposed solutions.”
The Task Force, in its 1974 progress report,
described 18 specific experiments in terminal opera­
tions designed to meet five objectives: improved
service reliability, reduced car detention time, crea­
tion of new business, better management techniques
for planning and evaluation, and greater job security
and safety.17
Labor’s representative, as associate director of
the project, helped to plan the experiments, many
of which showed possibilities of significant cost
savings from reduced congestion, faster and more
car movements, and other operational changes. The
Task Force recommended that changes proven effec­
tive by the experiment be put into regular practice
at the St. Louis terminal.
In May 1975, the Labor-Management Committee
broadened the scope of the Task Force on Terminals,
designating it The Task Force on Railroad Trans­
portation, with the understanding that it would con­
tinue its activities on other functions in cooperation
with the Federal Railroad Administration.
The retail food industry. Organized at the end of
the wage and price controls program in March 1974,
the Joint Labor-Management Committee of the
Retail Food Industry provides a forum for the joint
communication and cooperation on long-term in­
dustry problems, such as management .and union
work practices, technological change and produc­
tivity, and the structure of bargaining, and possible
solutions.18 The Committee is composed of officers
of the three major unions—the Teamsters, the Re­
tail Clerks, and the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and

Butchers— and officials of eight leading food chains.
A leading arbitrator serves as the neutral chairman,
working with a small staff funded by the industry
members and the unions. The Committee’s activities
are closely coordinated with the Federal Mediation
and Conciliation Service.
Although collective bargaining is conducted on a
local basis in this highly fragmented industry, union
and industry leaders agreed that consideration at a
national forum of issues in which both sides had a
mutual interest could help to improve local negotia­
tions, reduce the incidence of work stoppages, and
promote long-range stability.
In its first 18 months, the joint committee, meet­
ing monthly in different cities, dealt with a variety
of industry issues, of mutual interest. In October
1974, it formulated a set of voluntary guidelines for
collective bargaining based on procedures charac­
teristic of successful negotiations.19 Among the 10
procedures were such practices as exchange of pro­
posals well in advance of contract expiration, use of
the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and
other steps to achieve peaceful settlements.
When consumer and union groups in early 1975
threatened to obstruct the introduction of automa­
tion through legislation, an eight-man joint subcom­
mittee was established to collect “accurate and re­
liable” information about the impact of the electronic
checkout and the elimination of price marking.
The subcommittee agreed on a set of principles
for collective bargainers which recognizes that man­
agement’s interest in using the new technology to
improve productivity must be balanced with labor’s
“concern about the impact on the size of the work
force and the nature of the changed job assignments.”
Collective bargainers are asked to consider measures
to minimize any adverse impact, keeping in mind
the uncertainty about pace of change, costs, savings,
and manpower impact that surrounds employers’
decisions on electronic scanning. The subcommittee
agreed to focus on provisions for advance notice
of changes affecting employees, methods for sharing
information and consultation before changes are
introduced, and collective bargaining solutions for
problems that may arise.20 The recommendations
were expressed in general terms, recognizing that
they must be refined for each particular situation.
The joint committee has also commissioned Har­
vard University’s School of Public Health to study
the health aspects of the use of polyvinyl chloride
film in retail meat markets. This study is intended to
provide a factual basis for establishing safe work

Other recent cooperative efforts
FMCS program. The Federal Mediation and Con­
ciliation Service (FMCS) has long encouraged and
assisted the establishment of labor-management
committees in various plants and localities in order
to lessen the impact of industrial disputes. By fos­
tering industrial peace, these committees are also
expected to contribute to productivity improvement.
This preventive mediation approach was made
an integral part of the FMCS’ statutory responsibili­
ties (sec. 203 of the Labor-Management Relations
Act of 1947), and has been endorsed by several
labor relations study groups. The National LaborManagement Panel in 1964, and the National
Commission on Industrial Peace in 1974, recom­
mended expansion of labor-management committee
FMCS mediators, acting as neutral chairmen,
at the request of the parties, help lead joint com­
mittee meetings to identify problems of mutual
interest, concentrating on workplace issues that are
not usually matters of negotiation or grievance.
A new FMCS mediation procedure, Relations by
Objective, is being introduced to improve com­
munications between bargaining periods and enhance
mutual trust by the application of behaviorial science
problem-solving techniques. The essence of this
system is the step-by-step establishment of mutual
objectives, starting with each side determining what
the other side should do to improve labor-manage­
ment relations, and then what each side could do
itself. The lists of objectives become the agenda for
separate discussions and, finally, the joint committee
discussions on specific action steps. Mediators trained
in these procedures helped to organize joint com­
mittees at a pulp and paper mill in Maine, after a
3-week strike, and succeeded in reducing grievances
and markedly improving relations between manage­
ment and five unions. A FMCS-assisted labor-man­
agement committee at a particleboard plant in
Wisconsin reported a sharp reduction in grievances
and waste.22
While these committees are not directly concerned
with production, mediators report that they fre­
quently contribute to better morale and improved
plant performance. For example, a committee may
take up a problem of discipline which had roots in
lack of proper supervision, resulting in poor employee
productivity. The Federal Mediation and Concilia­
tion Service takes the approach that, in the long run,
better communication and mutual respect help lessen
grievances and strikes and can create a climate re­
ceptive to productivity improvements.

Community effort: Jamestown, N .Y. A highly inter­
esting example of community self-renewal through
labor-management cooperation is the joint activi­
ties taking place in Jamestown, N.Y., a factory town
of 40,000 people in the western part of the state.
Faced with loss of plants and jobs because of a
“bad labor relations climate,” the mayor, on the
advice of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation
Service, called together the town’s leading manufac­
turers and union leaders in 1972, to discuss ways of
halting the community’s decline. Industrial develop­
ment efforts had failed to attract new business.
After several meetings, the group decided to es­
tablish the Jamestown Area Labor-Management
Committee. The 30 business members include in­
ternational corporations as well as local firms. Unions
involved include the Machinists, Auto Workers,
Steelworkers, and Furniture Workers.
Following an intensive investigation of areas of
common interest, the committee established four
goals: productivity gains in existing industries, im­
provement of labor relations, manpower develop­
ment, and assistance to industrial development pro­
grams. Productivity was singled out as the most
important objective of the committee at the earliest
In its 1975 report, Three Productive Years, the
committee states that such a goal could only be
enunciated once labor leaders were assured that no
jobs would be eliminated in any plant as a result of
achieving productivity gains because “unions had
come to regard the word productivity as equated with
‘speed-up’ time-and-motion approaches which were
so distasteful to their members.” The report describes
this process:
Upon analysis, the labor leaders came to a difficult
conclusion that in the long term, productivity must be
a primary goal. The only way to improve the business
conditions for existing companies was to make them
more competitive. Continual complaints from manu­
facturers about high New York State taxes and other
costs of doing business in this area had to be offset by
higher levels of productivity. Furthermore, the best
way to attract new industry and to deal with the new
thrust of increasing foreign competition was to prove
that Jamestown was a productive place to do business
because of a good labor relations atmosphere.23
With Federal funds from the Economic Develop­
ment Administration of the Department of Commerce
and the National Commission on Productivity, and
technical advice from Cornell University labor ex­
perts, the committee hired a full-time coordinator
and a noted consultant to carry out a program of
demonstration projects and educational activities.

Establishing plant labor-management committees
was a key feature of the program. The objective
was to create a channel of communication for the
expression of employee opinion rather than imposing
a predesigned plan. About 10 plants have initiated
joint productivity improvement projects, including
experiments in redesign of work at a glass processing
plant, a program for training key skilled workers
for woodworking plants, and a gain-sharing program
to increase material utilization at a glass-tempering
plant. In addition, training programs in management
skills and labor relations have been developed with
the assistance of the local community college.
As the plant committees take over the function
of initiating projects, the community-wide labormanagement committee has become a clearinghouse,
serving as a facilitator and sponsor of joint confer­
ences and other educational activities. The objective
is to foster an atmosphere receptive to new concepts
about productivity, the quality of work, and labor
relations, both at the plant and community level.
One of the key factors in the continued existence
of labor-management plant committees has been
maintenance of close communications among all the
participants. The committee’s report stresses that
poor communication as to the real objective and
impact of such committees has sometimes threatened
the break-up of a particular committee. According
to the report, “The understanding of the rank and
file as to the need for collaboration is the heart of
the process. To the extent that any labor leader who
is involved in such a committee has difficulty with
rank-and-file resistance, the entire program is
In the 3 years of the committee’s existence,
despite nationwide recession in 1974-75, there
has been a remarkable turnaround in the com­
munity’s economic prospects. Strikes and grievances
have been reduced. Several plants were saved from
liquidation, in some cases with the cooperation of
the employees and their unions. Employment has
increased significantly. Many workers have received
training to upgrade their skills. Largely because of
the favorable labor-management climate, a major
engine company, with potential employment of
1,500, has decided to locate a plant in Jamestown.
The project has inspired a countywide effort, involv­
ing smaller industrial communities. In nearby Buffalo,
a city of 1.5 million and declining employment,
union and business leaders have formed a joint com­
mittee patterned after Jamestown’s.

One of the most striking features of these ex­
amples is that cooperation is taking place in several

major industries— steel, automobiles, railroads, and
retail food—facing serious competitive pressures or
industrial relations problems. Union and manage­
ment in these situations have voluntarily put aside,
to a degree, traditional mistrust to deal through joint
committees with problems affecting productivity, di­
rectly or indirectly. While the impact on productivity
in most cases may be impossible to measure, there
is general agreement that these initiatives could help
to create an industrial relations climate favorable to
productivity improvement.

Labor-management committees at the plant or
industry level appear to be fragile organizations,
having their own problems of leadership, commit­
ment communication, and participation. Debates
over management rights and job security may be
stilled but not wholly eliminated. To be effective,
mutual trust is critical. At the start, joint plant com­
mittees may need a period of preparation and orien­
tation and, in some cases, outside, neutral, technical
assistance. It is essential that employees be kept
informed of committee activities, and that fears of
displacement or reduced status be allayed. Without
some mechanism for sharing productivity gains other
than collective bargaining, the committee ap­
proach may not arouse interest among rank-and-file
Although introduction of joint productivity com­
mittees on a wide scale may be doubtful, given deepseated mistrust between labor and management and
the persistence of high unemployment, the prospect
for greater experimentation seems more favorable
than it has been since World War II. One reason is
that there exists among management and labor policy­
makers some agreement about the nature and im­
portance of productivity improvement. A 1974 sur­
vey of union and management officials found that
most believe that increasing productivity is an im­
portant goal, although union officials as a group
espouse this view less strongly than do managers.24
There is also a strong consensus about the possibility
for unions and management to cooperate on pro­
ductivity programs. However, there is also evidence
of fairly widespread mutual mistrust between the two
groups, with management believing unions are ob­
stacles to change and unions believing management
is not concerned about workers. The ’rvey con­
cludes that such mistrust would need to suspended
before cooperative programs could be undertaken,
but the agreement on the importance of efforts to
increase productivity and quality of work life points
to a “potential springboard for joint action.”
Considerable potential for cooperation is likely to
be found in communities with old plants, a tradition

of unionism, and competition from modern non­
union firms, domestic or foreign. In such places,
community pressure for industrial peace and a co­
operative labor-management reputation can result
in persuading corporate planners that modernization
of their local plants would be more profitable than
relocation. Thus, the Jamestown, N.Y., experience
is proving to be an attractive model for similar in­
dustrial communities with high unemployment, such
as Cumberland, Md., Muskegon, Mich., Evansville,
Ind:, and Lockhaven, Pa., which have recently or­
ganized joint committees. In October 1975, the New
York Governor’s Labor-Management Conference on
Jobs recommended that joint committees modeled
after Jamestown’s be organized in other cities in the
Interest in union-management cooperation may
also be heightened by recognition of the role of pro­
ductivity improvement in offsetting inflationary cost
pressures. In addition, with the high cost of capital,
some businesses may find labor-management co­
operation an attractive alternative to investment in
automation. In the construction industry, the com­
petition of nonunion contractors is encouraging co­
operation between unions and management to im­
prove productivity.
There is likely to be pressure for labor-manage­
ment cooperation in the public sector, where limited
revenues, union wage pressures, and public demands

for services have combined to make improved
productivity a vital necessity. A 1970 BLS survey of
municipal agreements found that about 1 out of 5
provided for joint committees to discuss problems
of common interest. About half of Federal agree­
ments in 1971 had such provision. Although not
always specifically mentioned, productivity issues
could be taken up by such committees.25
A third and final factor in the future spread of
labor-management committees is the encouragement
being given by Federal and State Governments and
specialized nonprofit institutions. The National
Center for Productivity and the Quality of Working
Life, an independent agency of the Federal Govern­
ment, with a board of directors composed of labor,
business, government, and public leaders, has as
one of its functions the fostering of joint coopera­
tion. Productivity commissions or centers are being
considered by State governments in Maryland, Michi­
gan, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Important sources of information, technical assist­
ance, and demonstration are being organized on a
continuing basis by nonprofit institutions with labor
and business leaders represented on boards of direc­
tors.26 The diffusion of knowledge about specific
benefits and problems of labor-management coopera­
tion for productivity and quality of working life
could help both parties adapt the idea to their in­
dividual circumstances.

---------- F O O T N O T E S---------1 Sumner Slichter, E. R. Livernash, J. J. H ealy, The Im ­
pact o f C ollective Bargaining on M anagem ent (W ashington,
Brookings Institution, 1 9 60), p. 842. Differences between
conventional bargaining and union-management cooperation
are discussed by N . W. Chamberlain and J. W. Kuhn,
C ollective Bargaining (N ew York, M cG raw-Hill B ook Co.,
1 9 65), pp. 4 2 4 -3 5 . See also R. E. W alton and R. B. McKersie, A Behaviorial Theory o f L abor N egotiations (N ew
York, M cG raw-Hill Book Co., 1965).
2 Harry A. M illis and R oyal M ontgomery, O rganized
L abor (N e w York, M cG raw -H ill Book C o., 1 9 45), pt».
4 6 5-66.
3 Philip Taft, O rganized L abor in A m erican H istory (N ew
York, Harper and Row , 1 9 64), p. 381.
4 Harry D outy, Labor-M anagem ent P roductivity C om ­
m ittees in A m erican Industry (W ashington, N ational C om ­
m ission on Productivity and W ork Quality, M ay 1975), p. 8.
5 D orothea de Schweinitz, L abor and M anagem ent in a
C om m on E nterprise (Cambridge, M ass., Harvard University
Press, 1949), p. 155.
6 Inform ation from the
Branch, Ottawa, Canada.

U nion

M anagement

° Brian E. M oore and Paul S. G oodm an, A Plant-W ide
P roductivity Plan in A ction: Three Y ears o f Experience
with the Scanlon Plan (W ashington, N ational Com m ission
on Productivity and Work Quality, 1975).
9 A lawyer who participated on the union side in many
negotiations pointed out in 1968 that despite bitter disputes
in the 1950’s, culminating in the 1959 strike, “There was a
continuing, mature and sophisticated relationship based on
mutual acceptance by each party o f the other party’s status
and need and a relatively objective search for solutions to
joint problem s.” D avid E. Feller, “The Steel Experience:
Myth and Reality,” Proceedings of the Tw enty-F irst
Annual W inter M eeting, D ecem ber 1968 (M adison, W is.,
Industrial Relations Research A ssociation, 1969) p. 153.
10 R ecent In itiatives in Labor-M anagem ent C ooperation
(W ashington, N ational Center for Productivity and Quality
of Working Life, 1 9 76), p. 13.
u Industry W eek, D ec. 6, 1971.
12 R ecent Initiatives, p. 15.


7 Harry D outy, L abor-M anagem ent C om m ittees, pp. 1 5 17. See also Arnold Tannenbaum, “Systems o f Form al
Participation,” O rganizational Behavior: Research and

Issues (M adison, W is., Industrial Relations Research A sso­
ciation, 1974) p. 96.

131. W . A bel, E m ploym en t Security and P lant P roductivity
C om m ittees: Ten Coordinating Steel C om panies (W ashing­
ton, N ational C om m ission on Productivity and Work
Quality, 1974), pp. 7 -8 . See also Bruce Thrasher, “Joint


Labor-M anagement A pproach to Productivity— The Steel
Industry,” Proceedings o f the Conference on P roductivity:
Its Im pact on C ollective Bargaining and E m ployee R ela­
tions (N ashville, University o f Tennessee, Institute for Pub­
lic Service, 1973), pp. 9-2 0 .
14 Testim ony o f D onald F. Ephlin, Administrative A ssis­
tant to the President, International Union, U nited A uto
Workers, before U.S. Senate Committee on Governm ent
Operations, Mar. 20, 1975, on S.765, N ational Center for
Productivity and Quality o f W ork Life Act. Letter from
G eorge B. Morris, Jr., vice president, General M otors Corp.,
to Irving Bluestone, vice president, International U nion,
United A uto Workers, Oct. 17, 1973.
15 “Try N ovel Plan at R ockw ell,” Solidarity, September
16 “H ow Workers Can G et Eight-Hour Pay for F ive,”
Business W eek, M ay 19, 1975, p. 52. See also The N ew
Y ork Tim es, Apr. 9, 1975, p. 24, and The Q uality o f W ork:
The First Eighteen M on th s (W ashington, N ational Quality
o f Work Center and Institute o f Social Research, 1975),
pp. 43—47.
17 A Program o f E xperim ents In volvin g Changes in T er­
m inal Operations: 1974 Progress R e p o rt (W ashington, Task
Force on Terminals o f the Labor-M anagement Com m ittee,
18 “Retail F ood Industry Labor-M anagement C om m ittee,”
Cost o f Living Council N ew s Release, Apr. 12, 1974.
10 C ollective Bargaining P rocedures fo r the R etail F ood
Industry, W ashington, Joint Labor M anagement Com m ittee
o f the Retail Food Industry, Mar. 6, 1975.

20 Statem ent o f P rinciples on U niform P roduct C ode and
R elated-Technology, W ashington, Joint Labor M anagement
Com m ittee o f the Retail F ood Industry, M ay 23, 1975.
21 Charles L. Bowen, “Preventive M ediation,” P roceed­
ings o f the T w enty-F ir st A nn ual W inter M eeting (M adison,
W is., Industrial Relations Research A ssociation, 1 9 6 9 ), p.
160. A lso, R ep o rt and R ecom m en dations, The N ational
C om m ission for Industrial Peace (W ashington, Executive
Office o f the President, 1 9 74), pp. 6 -7 .
22 R ecent Initiatives, pp. 2 5 -30.
23 Three P roductive Y ears (Jamestown, N .Y ., Labor M an­
agement Com m ittee o f the Jamestown Area, 1 9 75), p. 4.
24 Raymond A . Katzell and D aniel Y ankelovich, and
others, W ork P roductivity and Job Satisfaction: A n E valua­
tion o f P olicy R elated Research, Part 2, Research Findings,
Report for the N ational Science Foundation (N e w York,
N ew York University, 1 9 75), pp. 9 9 -102.
26 C ollective Bargaining A greem ents in Large Cities, Bul­
letin 1759 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1972). C ollective
Bargaining A greem en ts in the F ederal Service, L ate 1971,
Bulletin 1789 (Bureau o f Labor Statistics, 1973). The ex­
periences o f 8 com m ittees are described by Sam Zagoria
and others in L abor M anagem ent C om m ittees in the Public
Sector (W ashington, N ational C om m ission on Productivity
and Work Quality, 1975).
28 Som e are affiliated with State university schools or insti­
tutes, such as the Center for the Quality o f W orking Life
o f the University o f California at Los A ngeles and the
N ational Quality o f W ork Center o f the U niversity o f
M ichigan. Others include the W ork in Am erica Institute
and the M assachusetts Q uality o f W ork Life Center.

Tine erykng meed
In effect, I am recommending that we really take a look at this
adversarial relationship. It must be dramatically changed toward a
cooperative, collaborative relationship. We do not get needed support
in our schools. Our schools do not teach labor-management coopera­
tion; they teach management-labor conflict—how to resolve conflict,
how to mediate, how to arbitrate, how to negotiate, how to fight.
They do not teach labor and management how to work together
toward mutually satisfying goals. That is a crying need in our country

-------S t a n L u n d i n e , Member of Congress
Hearings, “ The Human Factor in Innovation and Productivity,”
Science, Research, and Technology Subcommittee
of the House Committee on Science and Technology,
September 15, 1981, p. 370


Helping labor and management
see and solve problems
A mediator can help improve an unhealthy
labor-management relationship by recognizing
the symptoms , m aking an accurate diagnosis,
and carefully prescribing appropriate remedies
John R. Stepp, Robert P. Baker ,
and Jerome T. Barrett
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has rec­
ognized that the effective promotion of labor-manage­
ment peace requires more than just an “eleventh-hour”
appearance at the bargaining table by its mediators.
Like most other professional organizations that respond
to human emergencies, the service has learned that by
blending prevention with treatment its resources are
used more efficiently.
The preventive mediation function requires the medi­
ator to be alert to symptoms of untoward labor-man­
agement relationships, to diagnose the problems
accurately, and to prescribe effective remedies.' The na­
ture and severity of the symptoms must be recognized
and traced to their source; the remedy must be suited to
the location of the symptoms in the labor or manage­
ment hierarchy, or both; and the parties must be per­
suaded that the cure is preferable to the disease and'is
clearly in their own self-interests.
This article extracts from accumulated experience
those principles on which a prescriptive model for im­
proving labor-management relationships can be built.2
John R. Stepp is Director, Office of Labor-Management Relations
Services, U.S. Department of Labor; Robert P. Baker is District Di­
rector. Western Region, San Francisco, Federal Mediation and Con­
ciliation Service; and Jerome T. Barrett is Director and Associate
Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations, Northern Kentucky Uni­
versity, Highland Heights.

From the Review of September 1982


This empirical model is erected on the perceptions and
experiences of the authors, all of whom are or have
been Federal mediators.3
Recognizing the symptoms
Mediators are uniquely positioned to detect the dan­
ger signals emanating from a poor labor-mangement re­
lationship. When involved at the collective bargaining
table in dispute mediation, the mediator can make a
reasoned judgment as to the nature of the relationship
behind the conflict. This is done by examining the is­
sues, assessing each side’s internal relationships, and
testing and verifying these impressions through indepth
private discussions with both parties.
Numerous issues, especially noneconomic or language
items, are often symptomatic of underlying problems
which are being addressed in a circuitous manner.
When this is the case, a contractual agreement may be
no more than a bandage on a festering wound. The un­
derlying problems have neither been identified nor ad­
dressed and certainly have not been resolved.
Every mediator, at one time or another, has entered a
negotiation shortly before a strike deadline, only to be
confronted with many unresolved issues. In private dis­
cussions with the moving party, usually the union com­
mittee, the mediator learns that these issues are an
attempt to send the other party “a message.” The mes­

relationship may be viewed along a simple continuum
consisting of three benchmarks: conflict, detente, and ac­
An employer at the conflict end of the continuum
never really accepts the union: “ . . . he does not yield
to the union even a narrow, restricted scope until he lit­
erally has to; and he looks for the first opportunity to
get rid of the intruder. His acceptance of joint dealings
is an ‘imposed acceptance,’ imposed by law and by
union power.”5
Under detente, the midpoint of the continuum, each
side accepts the other’s institutional legitimacy but exer­
cises its relative strength to obtain the best deal. Each
adopts a “win some, lose some” approach. They fight,
but the conflict is held within accepted limits; there is a
conscious effort to avoid pain and serious injury to one
another. Parties at the accommodation end of this scale
strive to reduce the level of contention. When differ­
ences do occur, they are processed with minimum emo­
tion through agreed-upon procedures with equity being
a realistic and desired goal for both. “They have proved
themselves willing to compromise whenever possible, to
conciliate whenever necessary, and to tolerate at all
The three benchmarks can be used by the mediator
to determine the severity and types of problems the
parties have. Relationships characterized by conflict will
have the most serious problems, reflecting distrust, hos­
tility, and suspicion; those characterized by accommoda­
tion will have the least severe problems, arising from
human failures in communications, consistency, and
concern for the points of view of others.
The next segment of the model directs the mediator’s
diagnosis to a determination of the location of the prob­
lem within the respective organization. One inhibitor to
accurate diagnosis is the diffusion of authority in com­
plex, multilayered, and interdependent labor-manage­
ment organizational structures. A systematic exam­
ination of the various intraorganizational dimensions
and their interrelationships is needed to locate and ad­
dress the source of the problem. Because the structures
of most labor organizations are reactive to and thus
closely parallel the management structure to which they
relate, more attention will be given to the structure of
management in labor relations matters.
Management can generally be regarded as conducting
labor relations on three levels. (On occasion these levels
may be extended or compressed.) The top level is one of
decisionmaking, usually personified by either a vice
president of labor relations or a labor relations director.
This level formulates, delivers, and implements corpo­
rate policy on its own initiative or as an operating arm
of higher-level management policymakers. The union
counterpart of this level is usually an international rep­
The mid-level can be characterized as one of imple­

sage is that there is enormous dissatisfaction with “busi­
ness as usual” on the shop floor and that problems are
not getting resolved. Resentment is bubbling over onto
the bargaining table in the form of contract issues. The
bargaining table is an ill-equipped forum for the effec­
tive resolution of these underlying problems. During
crisis negotiations it is very difficult to negotiate an im­
provement in attitudes or a better labor-management re­
Faced with a rapidly approaching deadline, the best
the mediator can hope for is that some issues can be re­
solved through catharsis and others quietly dropped be­
cause they are not strike-related. If a tentative
agreement is reached, the mediator’s relief may be brief
because the membership’s frustrations may surface
again in their refusing to ratify the agreement. Even
with ratification, there remains a strong suspicion that
all is not well and that the administration of this con­
tract and the negotiation of the next are likely to be
fraught with difficulty. This perception is often shared
by negotiators, too.
The mediator may also become aware of a deteriorat­
ing labor-management relationship through ways other
than his or her personal involvement in contract negoti­
ations. Through such professional and community orga­
nizations as the Industrial Relations Research
Association, the mediator can learn of problems. Also,
in monitoring dispute cases, he or she has daily contact
with representatives of labor and management; through
casual conversation, there is much opportunity to learn
of labor relations problems in a particular plant or loca­
Similarly, relationships plagued by frequent, long, or
bitter strikes; wildcat strikes; high grievance levels; nu­
merous arbitrations; or other obvious signs such as job
losses in a declining business enterprise, are symptoms
which will catch the mediator’s attention. Once alerted,
he or she can seek confirmation from the labor and
management representatives at the site.
Another means of mediator awareness is through
communiques from the affected parties. Because the
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is annually
involved in more than 1,000 technical assistance en­
deavors, the awareness of the availability of this service
among labor-management practitioners assures numer­
ous requests. When contacted, the mediator will begin
exploratory meetings with the parties to determine the
nature, location in the organization, and extent of the
Diagnosing the problem
Having detected danger signals, the mediator must
guide both parties through a joint analysis of the prob­
lems in order to determine their seriousness and exact
location. Until this diagnosis is completed, no remedy
can be prescribed. The character of a labor-management


projects have been completed in some of the most diffi­
cult labor relations situations in American industry.
Currently, the program is being used almost exclu­
sively in situations following protracted strikes or where
there are volatile labor-management histories. The crite­
ria established by the FMCS as a prerequisite for con­
ducting such programs are that both parties must be
sufficiently concerned about their divisive relationship
and committed at all levels to do something about it. In
return, the FMCS commits itself to assist the parties in
rebuilding their relationship and thus to reduce the
prospects of strikes in subsequent negotiations. (A Rela­
tionships by Objectives program may result in the
parties identifying a need for a labor-management com­
mittee or for training.)

mentation for labor relations decisions and policies.
Within management, this level would generally be
staffed by either a plant manager or a department head
who formulates very little policy but has, instead, the
important responsibility of supervising and coordinating
the implementation of policies established at the top
level. Business agent or local president are usually the
titles of union officials at this level.
The lowest management level is populated by firstline supervisors. They face the difficult task of confront­
ing the real world armed only with the policies supplied
and precedents established. Here are discovered both
the flaws and strengths of overall policy. The union
counterpart at this level is the steward.
A thorough examination of the parties’ relationship
requires a look at the relationships between levels with­
in each structure, as well as across the table, which
symbolizes the classic area of contention. Given three
existing levels of labor-management interaction within a
bargaining unit, each level having 1 of 3 possible char­
acters, a diagnosis may theoretically yield 27 possibili­
In this article, we will not attempt to deal with 27
different variations, several of which have only a theo­
retical existence and are not plausible outcomes. For ex­
ample, this would be true when accommodation existed
at the supervisor/steward level, but at all higher levels
the parties were locked in conflict. Accommodation
could not realistically exist between foreman and stew­
ard, except momentarily, if conflict were the prevalent
mode between plant manager and business agent. Two
corporals in opposing armies cannot wage peace while
their generals are waging war, lest they risk dismissal
for treasonous behavior.8 More importantly, to examine
all 27 possibilities would emphasize detail over the more
generic and fundamental concepts.

Labor-management committees. In recent years, more
than 300 labor-management committees have been
formed annually by employers and unions with the as­
sistance of FMCS mediators. The structure and goals of
labor-management committees vary greatly, but most
share the essential need for representatives of labor and
management to join together and talk about mutual
problems. These committees complement the traditional
collective bargaining relationship. They are an implicit
recognition that the parties have much in common and
that their relationship need not be totally adversarial.
Through effective committees, joint problem-solving can
take place which strengthens mutual credibility and
tends to improve relationships.
Joint training programs. Successful labor-management
relations are less a function of the quality of negotia­
tions than of the day-to-day implementation and admin­
istration of the labor agreement. The majority of this
work is done by the first-line supervisor and the union
steward. If their performance is below standard, rela­
tions suffer. Consequently, most of FMCS’ preventive ac­
tivities have been directed toward this group.
Supervisor-steward training does have considerable
value in the development of a work atmosphere which
is conducive to labor peace and the quick and effective
resolution of labor-related problems. Training sessions,
which use a variety of instructional techniques and fo­
cus on subjects such as communications, leadership,
and grievance handling, are a vehicle whereby adversar­
ies can set aside their stereotyped images and view one
another in a nonthreatening light, thus seeing, perhaps
for the first time, their commonalities. The FMCS con­
ducts 400 to 500 such joint training programs annually.
These training programs are tailored to the perceived
needs of the supervisor-steward audience, and are struc­
tured to encourage class participation. Using a combi­
nation of lecture, audio-visual materials, and workbooks
for the participants, the mediator leads discussions into
such areas as:

Prescribing a remedy
Having diagnosed the relationship and the possible
location of the problem, the model’s remaining segment
concerns the prescribing of remedies. Labor-manage­
ment relations improvement remedies are few— there
are presently three primary items: Relationships by Ob­
jectives programs, labor-management committees, and
joint training programs. Variations exist of each, espe­
cially the latter two.
Relationship by objectives. In the Relationships by Ob­
jectives program, mediators provide the expertise for
guiding labor and management toward basic changes in
their relationship.9 Both are brought together by media­
tors to analyze their problems, to decide what their
common objectives should be, and to reach agreement
on goal implementation. Since the program was intro­
duced by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Serv­
ice ( f m c s ) in 1975, 100 Relationships by Objectives



understanding the supervisor-steward relationship;
making the supervisor-steward relationship work;
providing effective leadership; and
handling problem situations.

If the remaining problem is simply a technical inabili­
ty to meet labor relations responsibilities, the most ef­
fective antidote is training. Through joint training of
supervisors and stewards, the groundwork may be laid
for a better relationship. Effective joint training usually
emphasizes the building of problem-solving and inter­
personal skills, and better understanding of respective
roles and the benefits of working together.
Equipped with an improved understanding of their
roles and the prerequisite skills for doing their jobs, and
encouraged by support from the top and middle levels,
discord and discontentment at the lower level can be
converted to a c c o m m o d a t i o n .

These programs are not intended to provide instant
solutions to complex problems. They are designed to
enable the participant, working with others in the group
and under the guidance of a mediator, to come up with
his/her own insights which, it is hoped, will be wisely
applied over time to improve their relations.

Setting priorities
In selecting a remedy, order is important. One must
focus first at the highest level in need of attention.
Higher-order problems must be resolved or neutralized
before those of a lower level are addressed.
If the labor-management problems are severe, and are
located in the top or middle levels of the respective or­
ganizations, then the Relationships by Objective pro­
gram should be considered as a possible remedy.
Through the program, the parties have an opportunity
to recast their relationship or to start anew, provided
there is mutual acknowledgment of serious problems
impairing the relationship, and genuine commitment to
Once the program has been successfully applied, d e ­
te n te , and rarely, a c c o m m o d a t i o n , would be expected in
lieu of c o n f lic t. Assuming the most likely, d e te n t e , the
parties are now in a position to build together a better
relationship. To assure further positive momentum and
continued improvement, a labor-management committee
is usually needed.
If nurtured and sustained, labor-management commit­
tees have demonstrated their capability for improving
labor relations. The most visible level of improvement is
likely to be between the top plant management and the
business agent or local union president. If the commit­
tee is really working, it will also affect the plant floor.
Consequently, through effective applications of such
committees, all mid-level outcomes have the potential of
being elevated to the a c c o m m o d a t i o n mode.
In many cases involving labor-management commit­
tees, a problem that is often identified as an impediment
to a good relationship is the inability of stewards or su­
pervisors, or both, to dispose of grievances successfully.
This can generally be attributed to some combination of
three factors: (1) an unwillingness to reach an agree­
ment—a preference for sustaining the conflict, (2) the
absence of perceived authority to settle the problem, or
(3) the lack of knowledge or technical ability to handle
grievances. Each of these causes can be successfully
tackled by the labor-management committee. The first
two can be addressed through separate consultations
within each party, so that agents at the lower level real­
ize their superiors are expecting most problems to be re­
solved at that level.

Third party audits
The model that we have evolved consists of: three or­
ganizational levels within labor and management; three
characterizations of the relationship which determine
the type and severity of the problem; and three remedial
approaches. However, it has not been suggested in any
detail how to analyze a labor-management problem
when applying the model; rather we have spoken of the
mediator recognizing danger signals and observing is­
sues and relationships, all of which implies an intuitive,
ill-defined, and artistic process. This method usually
provides a sufficiently accurate diagnosis in cases in
which the mediator knows the parties well, or the prob­
lems are relatively obvious, or both; but in other situa­
tions a more rigorous approach is needed to apply the
model. For this purpose, we will describe a diagnostic
process used in organizational development and human
resources development (training needs assessment).10
Discussion will center on joint training at the
supervisor/steward level, but with minor modifications,
the process could be used at other levels or when other
remedies are proposed.
The diagnostic procedure, developed by Geary
Rummler, focuses on a “human performance” audit.11
For him, human performance is composed of: (1) the
job situation or occasion to perform; (2) the performer;
(3) the behavior (action or decisions) that is to occur;
and (4) the consequences of that behavior to the per­
former.12The advantage of using a performance audit is
that it forces the specific source of the undesirable be­
havior to be identified.
A second feature of Rummler’s audit is the determi­
nation of the economic consequence of poor
performance. In other words, having determined by the
audit model that undesirable performance is a result of
a lack of feedback to a supervisor about his or her
work, for example, the question is asked: does it r e a l l y
make any difference or enough difference to require
change? The result of this questioning will be to consid­
er first those performance problems which are most eco­
nomically important to the organization.
A very sophisticated or extremely simple audit can be

used, depending upon the amount of time available, the
complexity of the organization, and the functions being
audited. This audit of performance can be used on all
three levels of labor relations concurrently, but we will
apply it only to the lower level.
The basic components of the Rummler approach can
be retained in a streamlined audit by using this series of
questions to identify sources of the problems and to an­
alyze them:

° Under II, questions 1, 2, and 3 could lead one to discover


© Under V, question 1 could divulge that the first-line super­

that the union policy is unclear on whether a steward is
expected to anticipate and solve problem s before they be­
com e formal grievances.
© Under III, question 5 could disclose that first-line supervi­




departm ents





® Under IV, questions 2 and 3 could reveal that m otivation
and interest are the source of the performance problem, not
know ledge or skill.

General lead-in questions
1. How do you know you have a problem?
2. How will you know when the problem is solved?
3. How long has this been a problem?
4. How general is the problem?

visor is aware of only one-third of the tasks expected of
him or her.
© Under VI, question 1 m ight reveal that the steward gets no
positive feedback on his or her performance.

II. Questions on the job
1. What is the desired performance?
2. What are the job standards?
3. Who says that these are the standards?
4. Does everybody agree on these standards?

® Under VII, question 1 m ight show that the failure to prop­
erly investigate a grievance, prior to com m itting it to writ­
ing, doubled the length of tim e required to process it
through the first tw o steps of the grievance procedure.

III. Questions on the performer
1. What are the specific differences between actual and
expected performance?
2. Has anyone ever performed as expected?
3. Who?
4. When?
5. How many individuals are now performing below

When the audit is completed, the mediator will have
a complete list of the performance problems in the area
under study, which will include an identification of the
sources of the problems, and economic priorities based
on the cost of the problem to the organization.
Following an analysis of this list, the mediator could
act as an adviser to labor and management in determin­
ing the appropriate remedy. Some problems are more
susceptible to a training solution, others to a labormanagement committee or a Relationships by Objec­
tives program, and some will require structural and pol­
icy changes. In each instance, the mediator will work
with the parties to resolve the performance problem and
improve their relationship.

IV. Questions on behavior
1. Did the steward or first-line supervisor ever perform
2. Could they perform properly if their lives depended
upon it?
3. If they could perform properly, would they?
V. Questions on the consequences of performance
1. Does the steward or first-line supervisor whose perfor­
mance is below standard know:
a. What is expected of him or her?
b. What he or she is not performing correctly and
exactly how far he or she is from expected per­
c. How to perform correctly?
d. When to perform?


VI. Questions on feedback
1. What positive or negative consequences, or both, of
performing correctly or incorrectly can the first-line
supervisor or steward expect from:
a. Higher ranking officials within the company or or­
b. Subordinates?
c. Associates at the same level?V
VII. Questions on economic costs and priorities
1. What does it cost the employer or union not to reme­
dy the performance problem?
2. What is the priority on remedying any performance
A few examples will illustrate how these questions
produce relevant information on performance and eco­
nomic priorities:


Before any labor-management relationship can be im­
proved, the parties to that relationship must both be
dissatisfied with the status quo and have before them
some blueprint which, if followed, has a reasonable
chance of succeeding.13 14 In many cases, labor-manage­
ment relationships are operating at a suboptimal level.
This can happen for many reasons; for example, one or
both sides prefer it that way, they are not prepared to
incur the political or economic costs they attach to im­
provement, they do not know how to gain the necessary
credibility to move jointly forward, or they simply do
not know what to do.
O fte n a tr u ste d th ir d p a r ty can d ip lo m a tic a lly a llo w
th e p a r ties to fo c u s o n s h o r tc o m in g s in a r e la tio n sh ip ,
b y m in im iz in g p o litic a l a n d e c o n o m ic c o s ts o f c h a n g e ,
p r o m o tin g
sid e s


tr u st a n d
d e v e lo p fn g

c o o p e r a tio n ,

roadm ap


a s s is tin g

w h ic h ,


b o th

fo llo w e d ,

s h o u ld le a d to a p o s itiv e , c o n s tr u c tiv e r e la tio n sh ip .


Fuller, Problems in Labor Relations (New York, McGraw-Hill Book
Co., 1950), p. 7.

1Section 203 (A) of the Taft-Hartley Act states: “It shall be the
duty of the Service, in order to prevent or minimize interruptions, of
the free flow of commerce growing out of labor disputes, to assist
parties to labor disputes in industries affecting commerce to settle
such disputes through conciliation and mediation.”
During the discussion on the floor of the Senate of Bill S. 1126 (sub­
sequently compromised to become the Taft-Hartley Law), Senator Ir­
ving Ives of New York made the statement: "A great lack at the
present moment in the field of mediation is measures by which we
may prevent industrial strife as well as cure it after it has begun.
That, of course, is contemplated under the new title.” (Congressional
Report, p. 4,590, 5-6-47.)
; It is interesting to note that the Federal Mediation and Concilia­
tion Service Preventive Mediation function started during the same
period (late 1940's) as the early applications of contemporary behav­
ioral science to organization and management. But there is little evi­
dence that the service benefited in any systematic way from
developments within behavioral science until the 1970’s. The introduc­
tion of the Relationships by Objectives program in 1975 (see discus­
sion on p. 17 of this article) was influenced by the work of Blake and
Mouton, particularly Robert R. Blake, Herbert A. Shepard, and Jane
S. Mouton, Managing Intergroup Conflict in Industry (Houston, Gulf
Publishing Co., 1964), p. 210; and Robert R. Blake, Jane S. Mouton,
and Richard L. Sloma, “The Union-Management Intergroup Labora­
tory: Strategy for Resolving Intergroup Conflict,” 'in Warner Burk
and Harvey A. Hornatein, eds., The Social Technology of Organization
Development (Fairfax, Va., NTL Learning Resources Corporation,
1972), pp. 101-26.
This lack of behavioral science influence on preventive mediation
during these 30 years is understandable because Federal Mediation
and Conciliation Service mediators are pragmatic individuals caught
up in practicing their art; they are not inclined to seek help or guid­
ance from theorists and academics. Moreover, even the behavioral sci­
entist makes limited claims for the application of his work to the
practitioner. See George Strauss and others, eds., Organizational Be­
havior: Research and Issues (Madison, Wis., Industrial Relations Re­
search Association Series, 1974), p. 2, which quotes with approval
Harold L. Wilensky, writing on the same subject in 1957: “Not every­
thing done by the social scientist can or should help the practitioner . . . .
the social scientist’s job is basically different from the executive’s job
. . . . much of what he comes up with is of limited use to the practi­
Writing 5 years later on the question, “Can Social Psychology Con­
tribute to Industrial Relations?” Strauss said, “From 1960 on,
psychological contributions to industrial relations were almost
nonexistent . . . ” See Geoffrey M. Stephenson and Christopher J.
Brotherton, eds., Industrial Relations: A Social Psychological Approach
(Chicheston, England, John Wiley & Sons, 1979), p. 371.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federal
Mediation and Conciliaton Service.
4A similar continuum of labor-management relations consisting of
armed truce, working harmony, and union-management cooperation
was proposed in Frederick H. Harbison and John R. Coleman, Goals
and Strategy in Collective Bargaining (New York, Harper & Brothers,
Publishers, 1951), p. 19.
Another more complex model for analyzing labor-management rela­
tions is described in Leon Meggison and C. Ray Gullett. “A Predic­
tive Model of Union-Management Conflict,” Personnel Journal, June
1970, pp. 495-503.
See Benjamin M. Selekman. Sylvia K. Selekman, and Stephen H.

" “Problems,” p. 8.
D = Lg where D is the number of diagnostic outcomes, L is the
number of levels in the organization (3). and G is the number of pos­
sible characterizations of the relationship between the parties (3).
Hence, D = 3~'or 27.
s However, it should be noted that a very bad relationship (conflict)
may exist at a lower level even though there is a very good one at the
next higher level (accommodation). Two generals can be pursuing
peace while the battle rages.
' For more background on Relationships by Objectives program,
see John J. Popular, “Labor-Management Relations: U.S. Mediators
Try to Build Common Objectives,” World of Work Report I, Septem­
ber 1976, pp. 1-3; Thomas A. Kochan, Collective Bargaining and In­
dustrial Relations (Homewood, 111., Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1980); and
Anthony V. Sinicropi, David A. Gray, and Paula Ann Hughes, Eval­
uation of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service's Technical As­
sistance Program in Labor-Management Relationships by Objectives
(RBO), unpublished, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service,
In the field or in organizational developments there are a number
of diagnostic processes for searching out and assessing organizational
problems. See for example: Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton,
Corporate Excellence Diagnosis: The Phase 6 Instrument (Austin, Tex.,
Scientific Methods, 1968); J. Richard Hackman and Greg R. Oldhan,
“Development of the Job Diagnosis Survey,” Journal of Applied Psy­
chology, 1975, vol. 60, pp. 159-70; Ralph H. Kilmann and Kenneth
W. Thomas, “Four Perspectives on Conflict Management: An Attributional Framework for Organizing Descriptive and Normative Theo­
ry,” Academy of Management Review, 1978; vol. 3, pp. 59-68; John P.
Kotter, Organization Dynamics: Diagnosis and Intervention (Reading,
Mass., Addison-Wesley, 1978); Paul R. Lawrence and Jay W. Lorsch,
Developing Organizations: Diagnosis and Action (Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley, 1969); Harry Levinson, Organizational Diagnosis (Cam­
bridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1972); and Rensis Likert,
The Human Organization: Its Management and Value (New York,
McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1967).
" Geary A. Rummler, “The Performance Audit,” in Robert L.
Craig, ed., Training and Development Handbook (New York,
McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1976, 2d ed.).
Rummler, “The Performance Audit.”
” Dissatisfaction with the status quo is found in organizational de­
velopment efforts: “The fundamental reason some crisis or pressure
seems to be so important in setting the stage for change is that it cre­
ates a state of readiness and motivation to change. Kurt Lewin called
this the ‘unfreezing stage’ at which old beliefs, values, and behaviors
lose strength in the face of data that disconfirm the manager’s (union­
ist’s) view of his (their) organization’s effectiveness.” Michael Beer,
Organization Change and Development: A Systems View (Santa Monica,
Calif., Goodyear Publishing Co., 1980), p. 48.
14The need for a plan in order to facilitate change is also found in
the Organizational Development literature: “Successful change efforts
require new models for looking at organizational problems and/or
new ideas for structuring or managing the organization. New models
may come in the form of a new organizational design, accounting sys­
tem, planning systems, or personnel policy.” (See Beer. “Organiza­
tional Change,” p. 50.)


How quality=of=worklife projects
work for General Motors

St e p h e n


F uller

Quality of worklife is not a happiness program, al­
though happy employees may certainly be a byproduct.
It is not a personnel department program, although
quality of worklife has important implications for per­
sonnel management. It is not a subtle employee
incentive program, although employees motivated to
achieving the goals of the organization certainly ought
to be one of the outcomes. And, it is not another pro­
ductivity program, although better productivity is cer­
tainly one of the important results.
Quality of worklife is all of these things and more:
°A continuing process, not something that can be
turned on today and turned off tomorrow.
° Using all resources, especially human resources, bet­
ter today than yesterday . . . and even better tomorrow.
©Developing among all members of an organization
an awareness and understanding of the concerns and
needs of others, and a willingness to be more responsive
to those concerns and needs.
©Improving the way things get done to assure the
long-term effectiveness and success of organizations.
General Motors is making a concerted effort to im­
prove the quality of worklife for its employees. Projects
are underway in most North American operations and
in many overseas operations as well. The approach was
not developed overnight. It evolved from a philosophy
of management, shaped by events and experiences oc­
curring over a considerable period of time.
A key component of our quality-of-worklife process
is union participation. Quality of worklife became a

joint effort of General Motors and the United Auto
Workers in 1973, when a National Committee to Im­
prove the Quality of Work Life was established. Repre­
senting the UAW on the committee are two officials of
the international union. The corporation is represented
by two personnel officers. The committee meets periodi­
cally to discuss activities underway in the corporation.
One of its chief functions is to educate executives of the
union and the corporation in order to encourage coop­
erative quality-of-worklife ventures at the local level.
The committee adopted minimum standards to assure
that every GM plant has the basics of a quality-ofworklife effort. Each operation is expected to have:
® A g r o u p to o v e r s e e th e q u a lity o f w o r k life p r o c e s s.

°A statement of long-term objectives incorporating
quality of worklife along with other desirable business
° Regular measurement of quality of worklife.
° Seminars and other activities to make the organiza­
tion more knowledgeable about quality-of-worklife con­
cepts and techniques.
©Adequate internal resources and skills to assure the
developmental process is moving ahead and accomplish­
ing its objectives.
Approaches vary
A quality-of-worklife improvement program is man­
datory at g m ; however, specific approaches are
optional. Following are some examples of approaches
being applied at existing and new plants.
A decade ago, one of our assembly plants could have
been characterized as a problem plant. There was an air
of hostility between management and the union. Costs

Stephen H. Fuller is a vice president of General Motors Corp.

From the Review of July 1980


reflecting the local management’s beliefs about people
and work and the relationship between those beliefs and
the plant’s objectives.)
A team concept is a major feature of many new GM
plants. Job rotation within the team is encouraged. Em­
ployees thus acquire broader skills which, in turn, al­
lows for greater flexibility in performing all of the tasks
within the team. This concept tends to promote em­
ployee involvement and satisfaction, and to minimize
the disruptive effects of occasional absenteeism and
turnover. Employees are encouraged to move from one
team to another once they have learned all of the jobs
in the team. This further adds to the fulfillment of em­
ployee interests and to the expansion of experiences and
The team concept encourages employee responsibility
and involvement. For example, employees may have re­
sponsibility for training team members; assessing indi­
vidual team members’ progress in satisfactorily per­
forming job assignments; forecasting efficiency, scrap,
and manpower requirements in their operating areas;
recommending corrective action for improper conduct
of team members; contributing to the selection of new
employees; selecting team leaders; and maintaining op­
eration of tools and equipment within process stand­

were high. Performance was poor. Something had to be
done. Fortunately, the local management and union
were willing to undertake some initiatives. As both
sides explored and discussed their mutual problems and
concerns, an atmosphere of understanding and mutual
respect began to emerge. In 1972, the plant faced a ma­
jor rearrangement which provided an opportunity for
management to involve employees in planning the
change, something that had not been done before. The
rearrangement went well, due, in part, to the employees’
Then, following the lead set by the GM-UAW National
Quality of Work Life Committee, plant management
and the union established their own committee. In
1977, management and the union initiated a 3-day
training program providing employees at the plant
training in team problem-solving. Although the pro­
gram was voluntary, nearly all of the 3,600 employees
participated. Today, employee morale at that plant is
high, grievances are only a fraction of what they were a
decade ago, and the plant has become one of the best­
performing assembly plants at General Motors.
Another GM plant abandoned the traditional organi­
zational structure a few years ago. Today, the plant is
organized into six business teams, each consisting of the
necessary production activities and support elements:
engineering, scheduling, material handling, quality con­
trol, maintenance, and accounting. The system has
made support employees an integral part of the plant’s
business operations. The quality-control circle concept,
which has flourished in Japan and is being introduced
by a growing number of firms in this country, has been
incorporated into the business-team structure. The circle
concept gives employees the opportunity to meet regu­
larly to discuss problems affecting their work environ­
ment and the plant’s performance.
These are only two of many approaches underway in
established GM plants. New plants provide a unique op­
portunity to design an organization from a blank sheet
of paper. Free from the constraints of past practice and
stereotyped roles, each plant is an opportunity to intro­
duce new approaches.
There are three important considerations underlying
quality-of-worklife initiatives in new plants: (1) there is
no best system or organizational design, (2) there is an
ongoing interaction among the parts of the system—a
change in one part of the system can have a significant
impact on the entire system, and (3) each part of the
system must reinforce consistency of operations and fa­
cilitate employee involvement.
To achieve an organizational system in which each
part is congruent with the rest, careful consideration is
given to the basic values, principles, and objectives held
by local management. The development of a philosophy
and goals is viewed as a necessary first step in the plan­
ning process. (The philosophy and goals are statements

Employee-management communications essential. In our
plants, emphasis is placed on effective communication,
particularly face-to-face communication. It begins with
the orientation, which includes, in addition to tradition­
al topics, a thorough review of the plant’s philosophy
and goals. Periodic plant meetings and team meetings
are used to discuss aspects of the business— for exam­
ple, quality, schedules, scrap and rework, housekeeping,
safety, employee facilities, production facilities, and cus­
tomer orders. There also is ample opportunity for em­
ployees to discuss their concerns with management.
The role of the personnel department at General
Motors is to facilitate the development of the qualityof-worklife process by consulting with management,
with employees, and with their elected representatives.
Well-conceived and effectively administered personnel
programs are absolutely essential for a strong qualityof-worklife effort.
One such program is a system of redress for thos<
employees not represented by a union. A formal “opei
door policy” is one approach, but it must have the sup
port of all levels of management. An effective appraisa
system for all employees, including managers and exec
utives, also is essential. The appraisal also should evalu
ate managers’ support and implementation of quality
of-worklife principles.
Training for all employees is an absolute necessity. 1
employees are to be involved in the decisionmaking prc
cess, if they are to grow and develop, they must ha\

major factor contributing to our economic ills. The
problem has not come about overnight. Between 1947
and 1967, output per hour of work in the United States
nearly doubled. Since 1967, output per hour worked has
risen only about one-fifth. And in 1978, the U.S. pro­
ductivity growth rate was an alarming one-half of 1 per­
cent, a dismal performance compared to the rate of
growth of other major industrial nations, particularly
In the past, America has been able to compete with
cheap overseas labor because of our capital investment.
In 1978, however, capital investment per worker in this
country amounted to less than $3,700, compared with
nearly $5,000 per Japanese worker. There are many fac­
tors in addition to capital investment which contribute
to Japan’s envious productivity growth rate. Among
them are government policies and programs that active­
ly support economic expansion, technological innova­
tion, harmonious union-management relations, and a
totally dedicated work force. Group goals are far more
important than individual successes in the Japanese
I do not think we can ignore the traits present in the
Japanese system. In this country, we have been overly
loyal to organizational tradition. But, today, we cannot
afford not to take new risks. The joint efforts of busi­
ness, government, and labor are essential if we are to
respond to the needs of a changing workforce and re­
solve our economic problems.

the opportunity to acquire the necessary knowledge and
Finally, it is necessary to have a statement of philoso­
phy that spells out the general role workers have in the
organization and how they are to be treated. A state­
ment of philosophy that represents the consensus of se­
nior management provides a basis for encouraging
managerial behavior consistent across plants and func­
tions. The philosophy also lets employees know how
they can expect to be treated.
All efforts at General Motors require a firm commit­
ment at the top levels of the corporation. Such support,
combined with a variety of successful projects has led
to the creation of a quality-of-worklife program in near­
ly all plants. This does not mean that GM has all the
answers or that quality of worklife is fully developed in
General Motors. There is much to be done, but the cor­
poration is on the right track and making progress.

Future of the projects
An important shift in union-management relations
began in the decade of the 1970’s. Unions and manage­
ment showed a willingness to explore new alternatives
and, in some instances, levels of cooperation once
thought impossible produced dramatic results. What
about the decade of the 1980’s? What is the future of
quality of worklife in America?
Two critical forces will have a significant impact on
the future of quality-of-worklife projects. One is the
changing values of workers. Increased sense of entitle­
ment, disregard for authority, and a general low esteem
of our institutions have been major factors in the devel­
opmental years of quality of worklife. Today’s workers
place less emphasis on material achievement and more
on personal fulfillment. The value shift of Americans
will significantly impact the future of quality of worklife.
The second force is economic. While business is being
challenged to respond to dramatically changing values,
our country is facing economic problems. The fact is,
the United States is locked in a fiercely competitive eco­
nomic struggle which could have either a positive or
negative impact on quality of worklife— positive if it
leads to innovative solutions and negative if it results in
simply greater emphasis on traditional approaches.
Our Nation’s poor productivity improvement rate is a

Stumbling blocks. As we push forward the frontiers of
quality of worklife there are some formidable obstacles
to overcome. One is the issue of control. Should control
be viewed as external to the individual, as provided for
through a supervisor and shop rules? Or should it lie
within the individual’s self-regulating ability and value
system and based upon mutual influence and interest
that leads to “win-win” rather than “win-lose” relation­
ships? Moving from external to self-regulating sources
of control would seem to be consistent with the qualityof-worklife viewpoint. How much training and how
much information is management willing to provide if
employees are to be self-regulating? Many organizations
in the past have been cautious about sharing informa­
tion, particularly financial information, for fear employ­
ees will use this knowledge to make “unfair” claims on
the enterprise.


How quality-of-worklife projects
work for the United Auto Workers

Irving Bluestone
In 1973, in bargaining with General Motors Corp. for a
new national agreement, the United Auto Workers
(uaw) proposed the establishment of a National Joint
Committee to Improve the Quality of Worklife. The
parties agreed to a document which set forth their gen­
eral understanding on the subject and pledged to urge
their respective local managements and local unions to
cooperate “in (quality-of-worklife) experiments and
How, where, and when to go about the task were left
open for the parties to consider. Over time, certain gen­
eralized concepts have become accepted. However, the
approach varies in each situation because the program
is not imposed from the top down, but must be cooper­
atively and voluntarily developed and implemented
from the bottom up—at the local union-management
Today, there are approximately 50 quality-of-worklife
programs in UAW-GM bargaining units. Most are still
in the early stages— an indication that such programs
are not “instant utopias” but rather follow a slow, cau­
tious, deliberate pace.
How did the UAW and GM go about setting up a
quality-of-worklife program? What were the “nuts and
bolts” steps taken and how were they implemented?
While no two projects are identical, the following de­
scribes in concrete terms what happened.

The fact that the National Joint Committee to Im­
prove the Quality of Worklife exists and urges the local
parties to consider undertaking a project supplies the
initiative to create interest in the subject. A local man­
agement may contact the local union shop committee
(or vice versa) suggesting the local parties discuss the
possibility of initiating a quality-of-worklife project. The
local union as a rule will contact the international union
and ask for a thorough explanation of the concept, how
it works, what it entails, and its advantages and disad­
An international union representative will meet with
the local union official and describe in detail the mean­
ing and purpose of the concept and what has been done
elsewhere and why. The representative will set forth cer­
tain guiding principles which are usually agreed upon as
a basis for proceeding:
©There must be no increase in production standards
as a result of the quality-of-worklife program—an as­
surance against speed-up. (Naturally, increased produc­
tion due to technological change is another matter.)
©There must be no loss of jobs as a result of the
program—an assurance of job security. (Obviously,
layoffs due to business cycles are another matter.)
®The provisions of the national agreement and of the
local agreements and practices remain inviolable.
©The program will be voluntary. No worker will be
compelled to participate.
©The union representatives will be involved in all as­
pects of the program—sharing with management equal­

Irving Bluestone recently retired as a vice president of the United
Auto Workers and director of the union’s General Motors depart­

From the Review of July 1980


ly in the development and implementation of the pro­
©Either party may cancel the program at any time—
an assurance against either being tied to a project in
which it has lost faith.

The overriding consideration is that all decisions are
by mutual desire and consent at the local level. Neither
the corporation nor the international union instructs the
local parties; each is merely a catalyst (to advise and
consult) when called upon.

The local, after full discussion, will decide whether to
proceed. It is advised to “go slow,” to experiment with
a pilot project at first and approach the program on a
“cut and try” basis. The local understands that normal
collective bargaining continues, that a quality-of-worklife program will not solve all the plant problems.
In the U A W -G M approach, no separate quality-ofworklife committee is formed. The local union shop
committee— the elected representatives of the workers
for purposes of handling grievances and bargaining—is
the union counterpart in the program. This avoids any
conflict in determining which subjects fall within the
purview of adversarial collective bargaining and which
are subject to the cooperative effort of quality of worklife.
A quality-of-worklife program cannot succeed unless
the local parties develop a collective bargaining climate
of mutual respect, a climate in which solving problems
supersedes beating the other party down. Therefore, the
first phase, before the parties can move significantly to­
ward worker participation programs, entails fostering a
mutually respectful relationship as the groundwork for
a program which will involve the workers directly.
This is no overnight task. It may take months of get­
ting together and talking things through. Essentially the
problem is altitudinal, and breaking down distrust and
cynicism on both sides is a slow but extremely reward­
ing process.
Once phase one is well underway, the road is paved
for the local parties to embark on pilot projects in
which workers on a volunteer basis become involved in
problem solving and participate in making decisions re­
garding the workplace which, heretofore, have been de­
nied them. By now, the parties have learned to work
together more cooperatively. Without pervasive rancor
and suspicion beclouding their efforts, they can join
mutually in analyzing the problems which trouble the
workers and create the opportunity for workers to help
resolve them.

There is ample evidence that the introduction of a
quality-of-worklife program has a salubrious effect upon
the adversarial collective bargaining system. For exam­
ple, simultaneously with national negotiations between
the u a w and GM, the local parties negotiate on local is­
sues, including seniority, transfer, shift preference,
equalization of overtime agreements, and other propos­
als to improve working conditions and health and safe­
ty, grievances, and other issues. Of the first 90 local set­
tlements in 1979, all of which were accomplished
without a strike threat, 44 were engaged in some stage
of a quality-of-worklife program. Considering there are
about 50 programs at GM, this represents a noteworthy

Studies at locations where a quality-of-worklife pro­
gram has existed long enough to be meaningful indicate
a more constructive collective bargaining relationship; a
more satisfied workforce; improved product quality; a
reduction in grievance handling, absenteeism, labor
turnover, and disciplinary layoffs and discharges.
These are all mutually desirable objectives; they rep­
resent benefits for the workers and advantages for both
the union and the management. But above all, from the
workers’ point of view, they add up to one of the most
fundamental objectives of unionism: the enhancement of
human dignity and self-fulfillment at work.
For decades, we have heard corporation executives
exclaim: “Our workers are our most valuable resource.”
Quality-of-worklife programs are designed to make that
slogan a reality. How? By altering the autocratic cli­
mate of the workplace and providing workers, through
their union, with the opportunity to participate mean­
ingfully in the decisionmaking process at the workplace;
by focusing management’s orientation toward concern
for the needs and aspiration of the workers; and by cre­
ating an atmosphere of cooperative effort between union
and management to achieve the above noted objec­


The quality-of-worklife project
at Bolivar: an assessment

Barry A. Macy
The quality-of-worklife project1at Harman International
Industries, Inc., in Bolivar, Tennessee, is a cooperative
change effort between the company and the United Au­
tomobile Workers of America (uaw). The project is
structured so that both parties can jointly determine
and implement organizational change according to mu­
tually agreed-upon principles. The objectives of the
project are to improve employees, quality of worklife
and enhance organizational effectiveness.
The explicit internal goals were identified as job secu­
rity, job equity, worker humanization, and worker de­
mocracy. These were ambitious undertakings in 1973 —
ahead of their times in many respects— particularly be­
cause they were shared and agreed to by both labor and
management. However, some of the objectives of the
project have been reached and surpassed, while others
have yet to be reached. Other outcomes and critical
process events are discussed in an assessment study by
Macy and others.2
According to the five intervention phases of the Boli­
var experiment, each composed of 11 months beginning
with the baseline phase through plant-wide experimen­
tation to coincide with the change program, the follow­
ing changes were measured:
Job security. More jobs were created, as the hourly
employment level rose 55 percent to 839. Once the pro-

Barry A. Macy is director of The Texas Center for Productivity and
Quality of Work Life and associate professor of Organizational Be­
havior at the College of Business Administration, Texas Tech Univer­

Health and working conditions. Accident rates, as de­
fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Adminis­
tration, declined 60 percent, while minor accidents de­
creased 20 percent even with the presence of many new
and inexperienced employees. Rates of short-term ab­
sences due to sickness declined 16 percent. However,
not all of the changes were favorable, as the rate of mi­
nor illnesses rose 71 percent and the rate of medical
leaves increased 19 percent. (Perceptions of Bolivar em­
ployees’ health appear later in this report.)
Financial security. The average hourly rate remained
constant and the wage rates relative to area standards
did not change (during this time, the wage rates for the
whole country did not increase relative to real wages).
The fringe benefit package increased by a small amount.
Proposals for the introduction of a gain-sharing com­
pensation plan (a negotiable issue) were discussed but
none was adopted.
Job security based on organizational performance. Daily
output per hourly-paid employee, adjusted for inflation,

From the Review of July 1980

gram was underway, the cooperative union-management
climate stimulated an effort to develop a joint bid on a
particular product, and the company and the uaw
established joint efficiency rates with the goals of in­
creasing employees’ quality of worklife and improving
job security. Ultimately, this venture saved 70 jobs.
Voluntary turnover rates declined by 72 percent, while
involuntary turnover (discharges, retirements, and so
forth) rates decreased by 95 percent.


mixed results. Thirteen indicators of the quality of
worklife and 24 measures of job and work environment
characteristics known to be associated with higher qual­
ity of worklife are assessed in table 1. (The data refer
only to UAW members; however, these indicators repre­
sent fairly well the different types of employees sur­
veyed at the Bolivar plant.) Some of the gains have
been offset by losses or no change. It must be remem­
bered, however, that over the extended period studied,
there were some unmeasured changes in the employees’
level of aspirations and expectations. These changes in
expectations and aspirations were enhanced by the quality-of-worklife program and the later conditions were
probably judged more critically than the earlier condi­
tions. When asked a series of questions pertaining to
the goals and outcomes of the quality-of-worklife pro­
gram, the employees responded generally with positive
opinions about the impact, the desirability of the pro­
gram, the effectiveness of the union-management rela­
tionships, and the ability of the UAW to represent
membership concerns. For example, 60 percent found
the program to be desirable; a majority found the joint

rose 23 percent. Two other measures of productivity—
efficiency and standard performance— verify this posi­
tive change in plant performance. On the product side
of the financial ledger, net product reject cost rates de­
clined 39 percent, while the rate of customer returns de­
creased by 47 percent. Once again, not all was positive
as the rate of manufacturing supplies used rose 22 per­
cent and the rate of machine downtime increased slight­
ly. What is so striking about productivity and product
quality at the Harman International plant is the fact
that both of these performance measures increased.
Moreover, these measures have held positive and signifi­
cant trends for approximately 3 years. Some of the
gains are attributable to technological and capital in­
puts; however, many can be attributed to the coopera­
tive labor-management change.
Cost-benefit. The cost-benefit calculations for the project
reflect the program costs and benefits per hourly-paid
employee per phase, summed over 55 months. The re­
sults show a net discounted benefit per hourly-paid em­
ployee to the company of more than $3,000. There are,
multiple reasons for this net savings, but nevertheless,
the plant improved its performance through a combina­
tion of forces, including the cooperative quality-ofworklife program.
In summary, the evidence shows that because of the
quality-of-worklife program, jobs objectively became
more secure; productivity and product quality rose; ac­
cidents decreased at a faster rate than their industry av­
erage; minor accidents declined while minor illnesses
rose; short-term absences due to sickness declined; man­
ufacturing supplies and machine downtime increased;
and employee earnings held steady. Also, grievances de­
creased 51 percent and absences due to lack of work de­
creased 94 percent.
These positive behavioral and organizational per­
formance gains seem to have had some practical
implications for both the company and the union in
their contractual process. The company’s 1976 contract
with the UAW was signed earlier than ever before and
benefited both the company and the union membership
by reducing the need for higher product inventories
while maintaining the same employment level. These
bargaining sessions, as contrasted to previous ones,
were accomplished and concluded in a mutual atmo­
sphere of cordiality, creativity, and trust. Absent was
the win-lose philosophy and counterthreats that often
accompany traditional labor-management bargaining.
This is not to indicate that the adversary relationship
between the UAW and Harman International Industries
has vanished. It has not! The union still grieves con­
tract issues; however, the spirit or climate in which
grievances are handled has improved.
Generally, the behavioral and performance findings
were positive, while the attitudinal indicators showed

Table 1. Assessment of quality-of-worklife indicators and
work environment characteristics

No change


Less alienation

Job satisfaction

More reports of physical
stress symptoms

Treated in a more personal

Job offers opportunity for
personal growth

More reports of psycho­
logical stress symptoms

Job involved more use of,
or higher level, skills

Working conditions

Less satisfaction with pay

Work equity
Job is more secure

Fringe benefits

Less satisfaction with pay

Supervisors more

Role conflict

Supervisors are less workfacilitating, supportive,
and respectful

Job variety
More work-group

Supervisory closeness,
favoritism, and feedback

More employee influence
over task-related

Work-group feedback

Less satisfaction with
work group

More adequate work

Employee influence over
work-schedule decisions

Less association between
work performance and
reward received (3

More work improvement
ideas provided by

Association between job
security and intrinsic
motivation with work

Less job feedback

General organizational
Work improvement


Assessment based on 85 matched UAW members.

on whether or not the union should be kept at Harman
International Industries, how would you vote?”
These results and other outcomes not reported here4
seem to indicate that the union members perfer to use
joint union-management programs to deal with quality
of worklife and other important domains of their life at
work. Recently, many other reports and studies5 have
indicated similar trends and like results with other
union members. One trend seems very clear. The time is
ripe for the U.S. industrial relations system to seriously
consider cooperative union-management programs along
with their traditional contractual and collective bar­
gaining structures and processes.

union-management committee responsible for designing
and implementing the program to be effective without
domination from either party; and 67 percent indicated
that the program strengthened the local union. In addi­
tion, 90 percent of the UAW membership were satisfied
with the local union in 1976, compared with 78 percent
in 1973. This is substantially higher than the satisfac­
tion level of a national sample of blue-collar union
members with their union during this period.3 More­
over, union membership at the Bolivar plant has in­
creased from 65 percent to more than 90 percent, and
100 percent of the union membership responded affir­
matively when asked: “If there were an election today

'The project was independently assessed during 1972-79. The be­
havioral and performance outcomes were evaluated for 55 consecutive
months during 1972-76. Support for this article was provided by the
Ford Foundation and the Economic Development Administration,
U.S. Department of Commerce.

States (Geneva, Switzerland, International Labor Organization, 1977);
J. Drexler and E. E. Lawler III, “A Union-Management Cooperative
Project to Improve the Quality of Work Life,” The Journal o f Applied
Behavioral Science (July-August-September, 1977), pp. 351-86; I.
Bluestone, “The Quality of Work Life Project Between UAW and
Hannan International Industries,” paper presented at the Thirty-Sev­
enth Annual Meeting, The Academy of Management, Aug. 14-18,
1977; E. E. Lawler III and L. Ozley, “Winning Union-Management
Cooperation,” Management Review (March 1979), pp. 19-24; E. E.
Lawler III, and J. Drexler, “The dynamics of establishing cooperative
quality-of-worklife projects,” Monthly Labor Review, March 1978, pp.
23-28; D. Nadler, “Hospitals, Organized Labor and Quality of
Work: An Intervention Case Study,” The Journal o f Applied Behavior­
al Science (September 1978), pp. 366-81; J. Perry and others, The
Impact o f Labor-Management Relations on Productivity and Efficiency
in Urban Mass Transit (Institute of Transportation Studies and Grad­
uate School of Administration, University of California at Irvine,
1979); B. A. Macy and M. Peterson, “Evaluating Attitudinal Change
in a Longitudinal Quality of Work Life Intervention,” in S. Seashore,
E. Lawler III, and others, eds., Observing and Measuring Organization­
al Change: A Guide to Field Practice (New York, Wiley-Interscience,
forthcoming); P. S. Goodman, Assessing Organizational Change: The
Rushton Quality o f Work Experiment (New York, Wiley-Interscience,
1979); B. A. Macy and A. Nurick, Assessing Organkational Change
and Participation: The TV A Quality of Work Experiment (New York,
Wiley-Interscience, forthcoming); and M. Duckies, R. Duckies, and
M. Maccoby “The Process of Change at Bolivar,” The Journal of Ap­
plied Behavioral Science (July-August-September, 1977), pp. 387-99.

2B. A. Macy, G. E. Ledford, Jr., and E. E. Lawler III, An Assessment o f the Bolivar Quality of Work Life Experiment: 1972-1979
(New York, Wiley-Interscience, forthcoming).
3 R. P. Quinn and G. L. Staines, The 1977 Quality o f Employment
Survey (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, Survey Research Center,
1978). A general discussion of the survey results is described in an ar­
ticle by G. L. Staines and R. P. Quinn, “American workers evaluate
the quality of their jobs,” Monthly Labor Review, January 1979,
pp. 3-1 2 . For a more in-depth discussion of union attitudes, see T.
A. Kochan, “How American workers view labor unions,” Monthly
Labor Review, April 1979, pp. 23-31.
4 See Macy et al, An Assessment.
5 For example, see T. A. Kochan, D. Lipsky, and L. Dyer, “Collec­
tive Bargaining and the Quality of Work — the Views of Local Union
Activists,” Proceedings o f the Twenty-Seventh Annual Meeting (Madi­
son, Wis., Industrial Relations Research Association, 1975), pp. ISO62; A. Ponak and C. Fraser, “Union Activists’ Support for Joint Pro­
grams,” Industrial Relations, Spring 1979, pp. 197-209; B. A. Macy,
“A Progress Report on the Bolivar Quality of Work Life Project,”
Personnel, August 1979, pp. 527-30 and 557-59; P. S. Goodman and
E. E. Lawler III, New Forms o f Work Organization in the United


Altering the social structure
in coal mining: a case study
An underground experiment using
autonomous work groups showed
increased production, motivation,
and safety, hut created discontent
among other workers at the mine
T e d M il l s

In the past 5 years, all over the Western world,
there has been a substantial growth of interest—re­
flected in increased experimentation and activity—
in the human contribution to work performance.
With major organizations such as the United Auto­
mobile Workers and General Motors in the van­
guard, American labor and management in both
the public and private sectors are beginning to pay
significantly more attention to the growing body of
expertise in a field increasingly called “the quality
of working life,” which focuses on the overall devel­
opment of the human resource in enterprise.

indicate that the industry’s productivity has de­
clined precipitously during the past decade. Unoffi­
cial productivity figures for the entire industry, in­
cluding the highly productive strip mining
operations, are bad enough; the figures for under­
ground mining alone are far worse. For example,
Consolidation Coal’s big underground Ireland mine
in the Ohio River area showed a decrease in daily
production per miner from 25 tons in 1966 to 10.6
in 1974, with the rate continuing to fall in 1975 de­
spite investments of millions of dollars in ultra­
modern technology to try to stem the decline.
Whenever productivity declines, of course, the
overriding question for management and unions
alike is, why?
In the coal mining case, some managers suggest
that when stringent new State mining safety laws
and the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act
of 1969 took effect, with inspectors crawling
around the mines to enforce them, productivity
plummeted. But, curiously, the productivity de­
crease after the new laws were passed was not sig­
nificantly greater than in the years before the Fed­
eral act took effect; productivity just continued its
downward march.
Another possible explanation for the productivity
decrease is that miners, like other Americans, had
become increasingly better educated, with higher

Coal miming productivity
In order to develop and explore the quality of
working life concept, the National Quality of Work
Center has conducted a number of diverse experi­
ments in various industries. None of these indus­
tries is more fascinating for such exploration than
underground coal mining, the subject of this case
study. For one thing, coal mining is hard, hazard­
ous, health-jeopardizing work, as everyone—partic­
ularly miners and their union—is aware. More sig­
nificantly, available data, though very crude,

Ted Mills is director of the National Quality of Work Center, a private,
nonprofit organization located in Washington, D.C.

From the Review of October 1976


expectations from their work, with consequently
increasing resistance to the dismal conditions and
work organization of most underground mines.
For these reasons, underground coal mining
seemed, in 1973, an intriguing place to implement
some of the emerging quality of working life no­
tions. These notions postulate, among other things,
that joint union and management efforts to involve
employees in the decisions that affect their lives on
the job can and will have measurable impacts on
their attitudes toward work, employer, union, and
even themselves as human beings. According to the
quality of working life approach, when you change
the quality of the individual’s experience at work,
you will find employees in turn changing both the
quantity and quality of the work they are asked to
do. When the quality of working life is high, in
other words, improved productivity may be one of
the important consequences. This notion is some­
times stated as “change the work, change the
Most mining managements have traditionally as­
sumed that there are essentially only two ways to
remedy falling productivity underground: Sweeten­
ing the paycheck, or increasing capital investment
in mining machinery. Until the experiment
launched by the National Quality of Work Center,
few mine managers or union leaders had considered
that restructuring work systems underground, pro­
viding miners with new insights about their (and
their machines’) performance of work, might have a
measurable positive impact on productivity in min­

rald Sussman, a research psychologist from the
Pennsylvania State University, and Grant Brown, a
Penn State mining engineer, formed the rest of the
Trist team.
In mid-1973, the mine president, the United
Mine Workers president, and the consultant team
met for the first time, in the UMW building in
Washington. Hinks and Miller signed an experi­
ment-launching agreement which stipulated, among
other things, that either party could end the experi­
ment by just a phone call, that no miner would lose
a job because of the experiment, and, most impor­
tant of all, that the experiment would be “jointly
owned” by the management and the union during
its 18-month lifetime.
In all of the National Quality of Work Center’s
many, diverse projects across the country, all of
them in unionized workplaces, this “joint owner­
ship” is of major significance to the potential suc­
cess of each project. To the participants it means
that neither management nor union is running the
project, but rather both at once, cooperatively. To
the consultants, it means their “client” is both the
management and the union members who make up
the labor-management committees formed in every
In all Center projects, there are two or more such
labor-management committees, situated at various
levels from the top of the organization to the bot­
tom. The top tier committee usually comprises two
or three senior executive officers of the entire orga­
nization (often including the chief executive officer)
and two or three senior officers of the international
union (often including the president). The focus of
this committee is organizationwide; the joint objec­
tive at this level is eventually to spread the first ex­
perimental efforts (if they prove beneficial) through­
out the organization.
This top committee—which may be called a
“core committee” or a “steering committee” or
whatever—identifies a divisional, second-tier area
of the organization where the union and manage­
ment feel the first active shopfloor experiment
should be inaugurated. In large operations (two
Center projects involve organizations with more
than 50,000 employees and unions of more than
500,000 members), such second-tier areas are usu­
ally operating divisions or regions. The Center en­
courages these divisions or regions to form secondtier divisional or regional labor-management com­
mittees of 6 to 10 management and union officers
from that level. They in turn identify one or more
plants or work organizations for experimental activ­
ity, where plant-level committees (usually with 12
to 14 members, evenly divided between managers

The agreement
In 1973, I was able to persuade the National
Commission of Productivity to support a qualityof-working-life experiment in a coal mine (the ex­
periment later shifted, along with the rest of our
Quality of Work Program, to the National Quality
of Work Center when that organization was
founded in 1974). We found a mine president (War­
ren Hinks of the Rushton Mining Co.) who was in­
trigued by the notion of working with his people as
well as his machines. And we found that the newly
elected president of the United Mine Workers of
America (Arnold R. Miller, himself a victim of
black-lung disease) was intrigued by the potential
of the quality-of-working-life effort to improve the
health and safety of underground mineworkers. We
found that Professor Eric Trist, a social scientist
from the Wharton School of the University of
Pennsylvania who had done classic work on sociotechnical work restructure in British mines more
than two decades before, would be available and
interested in participating in the project. Dr. Ge­


and union members) are established.
As this case history shows, there are good rea­
sons for urging such a multi-tier approach to quality-of-working-life projects in organizations of any
size. One reason is sanction: participants at the
plant level where the first experimental efforts occur
are reassured that both their union and their man­
agement, all the way up to the top, jointly approve
of, and are even part of, the experiment. (More than
once, Rushton coalminers were heard to justify
their commitment to the experiment by saying,
“Arnold Miller’s for it.”) Another reason is visibil­
ity: what happens in a plant far from organizational
or divisional headquarters is known, monitored,
and evaluated at each level; the danger of “encapsu­
lation”—achieving something impressive that no
one beyond the local workplace knows or cares
about—is significantly lessened. But perhaps the
most important reason for the multi-tier structure is
the built-in impetus and potential it provides for
eventually spreading or diffusing a. successful exper­
iment from the first workplace to others, first
within the division by the division-level committee
and then from one division to another by the toplevel committee. Sanction from the top adds pres­
tige, encouragement, and a sense of importance to
work-change activities at the workplace level; or­
ganizationwide visibility creates higher level aware­
ness of what is achieved; the potential for diffusion
makes experimental efforts far more significant, jus­
tifiable, and cost-effective, for if they provide the
hoped-for benefits to the management and union
sponsors, the built-in structure can spread those
benefits throughout the organization.

committee members began to learn how to examine
all work-related aspects of underground mining,
one by one, and to devise notions for improving
After 4 months of weekly steering committee
meetings, a carefully prepared 15-page report which
they called “the document” was finally drawn and
jointly approved. It covered many points and rec­
ommended many major changes, most of them or­
ganizational. But, unfortunately, it concerned itself
almost exclusively with the establishment of a new
experimental underground section operating under
brand new principles (for the United States) of hu­
man organization in mining. The major points of
the “document” were:
1. An experimental section would be estab­
lished in the mine, comprising 27 volunteers, 9 to a
2. Every worker in the experimental section
would be on top pay. This meant the experimental
section would cost at most $324 more each week
than other sections, not a prohibitive cost factor to
the mine’s management.
3. All members of each crew would be, or
would be trained by the company to be, capable of
performing any job in the section, from continuous
miner operation to roof bolting. The entire crew
would also be given special training in State and
Federal mine safety laws, so each miner would
know what constitutes a violation. Each crew of the
experimental section, therefore, would be an auton­
omous work team.
4. Each of the three crew foremen in the section
would henceforth have responsibility and authority
primarily for the safety of the crew. The responsi­
bility to management for the day-to-day production
of coal by the crew was transferred to the entire
work team of nine men now without a boss.
5. Grievances by any member of the section
would be dealt with primarily by the crew involved,
in what is sometimes called “peer discipline.” If the
crew couldn’t cope with a grievance itself, it would
then be processed through the local union’s formal
grievance machinery.

The Rushton mine was a small, independently
owned 235-worker mine in central Pennsylvania,
not part of a larger organization as are most other
Center projects. (It subsequently became an owned
subsidiary of Pittsburgh Power and Light Co.)
Nevertheless, it had two tiers of committees. The
12-member top-tier steering committee, which in­
cluded the mine president and superintendent and
the president of the UMW local, would eventually
authorize the formation, in each affected under­
ground section of the mine, of section committees,
comprising one supervisor and one union member
in each of the section’s three shifts, for a total of six
members per section.
It took the mine’s steering committee a while to
realize that its joint diagnosis of mine work struc­
tures and work performance was quite different
from the traditional adversary and money matters
usually discussed in labor-management meetings.
But slowly, under the guidance of the Trist team,

A meeting of the full membership of the union
was called to approve the “document.” The vote of
those attending was strongly in favor. By that
membership approval, production at the mine had
legally become—although experimentally only—a
joint worker-management responsibility.
An important factor in the deliberations of the
steering committee, in the final membership vote
ratifying the document experimentally, and in the
entire mine’s initial acceptance of the experiment

cause of what he knows, and not ju st because he
was boss. He liked that.
W arren Hinks, the mine president, spoke last. He
said that the im pact of the experiment underground
was reaching upw ard into Ms m anagem ent and the
m anagement style of the mine as a whole; it was
changing much of his own and his subordinates’
notions about mine m anagement, aboveground as
well as under.
In February 1975, a few weeks after the confer­
ence, the three full crews of the 2 South experimen­
tal section gathered, as scheduled, for one of the all­
day critique and training sessions th at occurred
about every 6 weeks. But this session turned out to
be special. For the first time since they had joined
together, the 27 miner members and 3 foremen of 2
South were shown actual m anagement figures for
their performance. The figures were for only 1
m onth, January 1975, but it was the first feedback
to the crews of their effectiveness as a section com­
pared with the nonexperimental sections of the
The miners were astonished. As a section, they
had mined 25 percent more coal than the poorest
section of the mine. This achievement was even
m ore impressive because a roof cave-in had ren­
dered their mine inoperative for 5 of the 21 working
days that m onth, or alm ost 25 percent of the work­
ing days. A nd their section’s operating cost (cover­
ing materials, timbers, bolts, m aintenance, and so
forth) was alm ost 40 percent under that of the
poorest section. As a result, the cost of clean coal
produced by the experimental section in January
1975 was $1.16 a ton, $0.71 under the mine average
of $1.87 and $1.58 under the poorest section, whose
clean coal that m onth cost $2.74 a ton.
To members of the local and international
unions, however, the experimental section’s safety
record for the first year of operation was even m ore
impressive. In 1974, one of the m ine’s nonexperi­
mental sections had amassed 37 Federal safety vio­
lations, and the other had 17; the experimental sec­
tion had incurred only 7. The other two sections
reported 25 accidents in 1974, 5 of them involving
lost time. The experimental 2 South section re­
ported only seven, and ju st one lost-time accident
(which the crews insisted was an unavoidable
The 2 South section that racked up these impres­
sive performance and safety records for about its
first year of operation differed from the other two
sections only in its social or organizational struc­
ture. The technology used by all three sections was
the same m ost of the time. Mine services were the
same. W hat was different was 2 South’s autonom y

was an explicit search for ways to improve the
safety of the miners. This emphasis on safety under­
lay M iller’s initial interest and official UM W en­
dorsem ent of the project. It underlay the decision
to entrust foremen with prim ary concern for crew
safety, instead of production. Safety improvement,
in m any ways, was the m otivation for the entire ini­
tial effort.
Once the docum ent was ratified, the next step
was to call for volunteers for the new experimental
section, called “ 2 South.” The list was quickly sub­
scribed. Then came training for the three crews of
the all-volunteer section. The miners worked at the
jobs they had originally bid for, but they were en­
couraged to begin learning every job in the crew
and to familiarize themselves with State and Fed­
eral safety laws. On February 24, 1974, each of the
three new crews of 2 South elected one miner to be
a mem ber of the section committee, m anagement
appointed five members, and the “official” imple­
m entation of the experiment underground was under­
The first year’s results
Some 10 m onths later, in January 1975, at a la­
bor-m anagem ent conference in Buffalo sponsored
by the N ational Commission on Productivity and
W ork Quality, miners, foremen, and m anagers from
R ushton told of their experiences to date. From
what they said to the large audience, it was obvious
that they felt that the new social system of the ex­
perim ental section and the new role of foremen in
th at section were working. The change was evident,
they said, not only in what they did but also in how
they felt.
A 25-year-old miner, since prom oted to foreman,
put his feelings this way:
Suddenly, we felt we mattered to somebody. Some­
body trusted us. . . . The funny thing is, in the new
system, the crew, we don’t really get tired any more.
We probably work twice as hard as we did before, but
we don’t get tired. . . . It’s like you feel you’re some­
body, like you feel you’re a professional, like you got a
profession you’re proud of . . . all 27 guys in all three
A section foreman, also since prom oted and now
assistant director of training, spoke candidly about
the radically changed foreman function. He told the
audience that it took a lot of personal adjustm ent
not to be (or act like) a “boss” any more, but that
once he learned the new system, he found that he
had more time to study safety problems coming up,
time that the old system had never allowed him.
His relations with his crew were first-rate, he said,
but he pointed out that now they respected him be­


as a work unit. (The performance data cited are
m anagem ent’s figures for 1 m onth only, however,
and during that particular m onth, conditions in 2
South’s section of the mine were generally better
than those encountered by the poorest section,
though that advantage may have been roughly can­
celed out by 2 South’s 5 down days from the roof
Both the miners in the experimental section and
m anagement were delighted by these figures. It
seemed clear that in every way—in th e changed
self-estimate of the crews, in their productivity, and
in their safety record— the experimental section was
working m ore impressively than anyone had hoped.
On that snowy day in 1975, with the experiment a
year old, it would have been understandable to de­
scribe the new system as enormously successful,
with m ajor ramifications for improved safety and
productivity in the m ining industry. But any eupho­
ria th at may have been experienced th at day was
soon to be dispelled.

went, were to have no such sharing. Additionally,
dissident union members not in the two experimen­
tal sections, and particularly those in aboveground
work, began to say that they too wanted top mine
pay. Why should “yellow hats” get it when workers
with years and decades of seniority did not?
A t a local union meeting in M arch 1975, one of
the dissident miners proposed that the top-pay pro­
visions of the experimental sections be extended to
the entire union membership, or the union would
exercise its right to term inate the project. The pro­
posal was accepted by the members present.
Now faced with a legal union m andate to devise
a form ula for diffusing the experiment to the M l
mine population if it was to be continued at all, the
em battled steering comm ittee sought to find some
form ula which would be acceptable to the m ine’s
management, to the local union leadership, to the
rank and file, and to the United Mine W orkers In­
ternational. Moreover, the form ula would have to
be acceptable to all concerned as a perm anent solu­
tion which could continue beyond the soon-toexpire 18-month experimental period. For the
union, the formula had to apply equitably through­
out the entire mine operation and not violate na­
tional agreements between the UM W and the Bitu­
minous Coal Operators of .America (BCOA). And.
for management, it had to be a formula that would
not price the m ine’s labor force out of competitive
Nevertheless, by June 1975, a formula (“docu­
m ent no. 2”) had been devised which was accept­
able to the steering committee, the United Mine
W orkers contract officials in W ashington, the mine
management, and all officers of the local. T hrough­
out July, members of the research team and the
steering committee endeavored to explain the de­
tails of the complex new “docum ent” to the entire
work force, meeting in groups of 8 to 10 miners at a
time. In essence, the new docum ent offered each
underground miner in all sections of the mine the
option of accepting or refusing the “experimental”
autonom ous principles of job-rotation at top pay. It
offered every worker 90 workdays at top pay while
training for the new type of work system. A t the
end of 90 days, workers would take a proficiency
test. If they passed, they would be perm anently as­
signed to an autonom ous section at the new rate of
It didn’t work. Perhaps the form ula was just too
complex. Perhaps its provisions were wrongly con­
ceived or inadequately explained. Perhaps the m in­
ers in the more productive experimental sections
had developed—as some others charged— a holierthan-thou smugness about their way of life that an­

T ie rising storm
In late 1974, with the new push on for coal as an
energy source, the m anagem ent unilaterally decided
to start a fourth section in the mine. A decision was
m ade— unfortunately w ithout consulting the un­
ion— that the fourth section (to be called 5 Butt)
would operate under the new system, which every­
one, miners and m anagement and consultants, now
referred to as “autonom ous.” The joint steering
comm ittee was presented this decision as a fait ac­
compli, which rankled many union members, par­
ticularly the representative of the U M W interna­
This new section was also to be composed only
of volunteers. But this time, the volunteers for 5
Butt were mostly “yellow hats,” or apprentice new
miners. Older miners, m ost of whom seemed to pre­
fer to stay with the crews they’d worked with for
years, did not rash to this section as the committee
had anticipated. So an appreciable num ber of the
members of the new 27-m an section were green­
horns, brand new to mining, who were to earn top
mine pay from the start, a factor that helped set off
the coming storm.
A nother factor was ignorance, or inadequate
comm unications throughout the mine, or both. Be­
ginning in late 1974 and m ounting in the spring,
the rumor-mill began to operate full blast among
the m ine’s rank and file. One highly persistent—
and untrue-—rum or was that the “autonom ous”
sections, and they alone, had made a deal with
m anagem ent by which any productivity increases
would be shared; the other sections, the rum or


gered their peers. Perhaps it was political factional­
ism within the local. Perhaps too m any of the older
miners were too tradition-bound or too close to re­
tirem ent to welcome m ajor changes in their ways of
working. Perhaps the persistent false rum or of a lo­
cal-union sellout to m anagem ent had sunk in.
W hatever the reasons, the local union rejected
the new docum ent in m id-August 1975, by a razorthin m argin of 79 against, 75 for, with 16 absent.
The vote rocked the consultants, the local union
leadership, and the mine management, who had
jointly devised the form ula and had been convinced
it would easily pass. It rocked the U nited Mine
W orker officials in W ashington and in the U M W ’s
regional district, v/fao had given it their endorse­
Legally, the vote was merely a rejection of the
new formula. But the stunned local union leader­
ship interpreted it as m ore—as rank-and-file rejec­
tion of the whole experiment, ending the coopera­
tive joint union-m anagem ent decisionmaking phase.
The union leaders, aware that alm ost half the mem­
bership of the local (and perhaps m ore than half,
had the absent members been present) wanted to
continue and expand the experimental conditions,
asked m anagement to continue the new work sys­
tems in the autonom ous sections, so cherished by
the miners in them, exactly as they were, but as a
unilateral m anagement decision. Also at the union’s
request, the name of the steering committee was
changed to the training and development com m it­
tee (under a clause in the national BCOA-UM W
contract perm itting union-m anagem ent cooperation
in those areas). But unlike the steering committee,
the new training and development comm ittee was
no longer— officially— a decisionmaking body. It
was to recom mend to management, which would
m ake all decisions unilaterally.
In the fall of 1975, several things happened. A l­
m ost immediately after the vote against the new
formula, there was a perceptible fall-off in produc­
tivity and an accompanying rise in safety violations
throughout the mine, particularly in the formerly
“yellow-hat” second autonom ous “ 5 B utt” section.
The former steering comm ittee continued to meet
regularly under its new name, with exactly the same
faces around the table as for the previous 2 years,
with continuing counsel from the research team. In
October, it began deliberating a new formula. W ar­
ren Hinks, the mine president, noted with a smile
th at by the time that form ula was set into place in
the mine in October 1975, the newly nam ed train­
ing and development committee had reassumed all
of the steering com m ittee’s old labor-management
decisionmaking functions, as if the A ugust vote had
never happened.

The mine still contained a large percentage of
workers unconvinced th at the autonom ous m ode of
the experimental volunteer sections was a good way
to mine coal. The com m ittee’s new form ula gave
such miners an option. M anagem ent announced
th at for a period of 1 year, all workers except new
“yellow-hat” entrants in the entire mine— above­
ground and below— would be paid the top rate for
their area of the mine, and all would be given train­
ing in all the jobs performed in their areas. Those
who showed no interest or willingness to. learn jobs
other than their own would revert to the contract
rate for their job, which usually would be less pay.
Because this was a m anagement decision recom­
m ended by the committee, there was no formal de­
bate among the miners.
In August 1976, the Rushton project entered its
fourth year. The initial experimental phase was
dead; the research team felt it expired long before
the August 1975 brouhaha, when the focus at the
mine began— through peer pressures, prim arily— to
turn its focus from two sections underground to the
new focus on the entire mine. Even the term s used
around the mine have changed: “autonom ous” has
largely dropped out of currency; no one now refers
to “the program ” or “the experiment” as they used
to. According to President Hinks, today miners and
managers, in referring to the new participative so­
cial system, simply talk about “our way of w ork­
Since October 1975, the focus of “our way of
working” has been increasingly on m anagers and
foremen, on the sound assum ption th at mine per­
sonnel at those levels often require m ore under­
standing and reassurance about participative m an­
agement than do the underground miners on whom
the initial phase focused exclusively. In July 1976, a
leadership effectiveness course for m anagers was
inaugurated. The old section conferences of the ex­
perimental period are still full-day meetings to ex­
amine social and interpersonal work problems, but
they now occur half as often as in the old days of
1974. M iner training has been shifted underground,
where workers train with the m ine’s machines, and
a new m achine-m aintenance consultant has been
In late 1975, the third of the mine’s four sec­
tions— 1 East— voluntarily adopted “our way of
working” as an autonom ous unbossed work team,
with no formal fanfare and no new “docum ent” to
set it up. Its safety record has changed dram atically
since then, from five lost-time accidents with one
fatality under the traditional system in 1974 to one
lost-time accident in 1975 under the new system,
and one thus far through 1976. (The first experi­
m ental section, 2 South, improved its splendid one

ished R ushton story is not whether the new partici­
pative social system works in underground face
mining in the United States. Its feasibility as a more
hum an, m ore effective, m easurably safer way of
mining coal has been proved beyond a reasonable
doubt, as every R ushton miner who has worked in
it will vouchsafe. W hat remains to be seen, how ­
ever, with implications for every underground mine
operation in the U nited States, is if the new workrestructuring approaches can be successfully ap­
plied to a total mining organization, at every level of
that organization, aboveground as well as under­
ground, and particularly with mine managements.
The dissidence, suspicion, and hard-core resis­
tance that developed at R ushton and culm inated in
the negative vote of August 1975 suggest an im por­
tant lesson: although initiating socio-technical
change activities through a single “shopfloor”
workplace unit may be a useful or even m andatory
“entry” device into an organization and the best or
only way to get an organizational change program
going, it m ust quickly be expanded throughout the
workplace, or peer-pressure troubles are certain to
arise. A study of the negative August 1975 vote re­
veals that all those who had personally experienced
the new social system in action voted for continu­
ance and expansion; alm ost uniformly, those who
voted against had not been touched by the experi­
m ental activity. A nd because those untouched m in­
ers had no personal, experiential understanding of
the new social system in action, they perceived,
quite understandably, the key issues involved to be
traditional issues such as equity in pay, which they
did understand.
A nother hindsight judgm ent w orth noting is that
once 5 Butt, the second experimental section, got
underway, the steering committee, perhaps consid­
ering its experimental task accomplished, ceased to
meet regularly. M any involved suggest th at had it
continued to meet regularly, it m ight have been
able to both perceive and take remedial action
against the rising suspicions, dissidence, and minewide thrust. The perm anent function of laborm anagem ent bodies at every level m ay be as m uch
to observe, diagnose, and take regularly scheduled
soundings as it is to make implementive decisions.
Perhaps the m ost useful lesson to be learned by
the R ushton story to date is a lesson in scale. A t
the inception of the effort, it was a small, onesection “shopfloor” experiment in the effectiveness
of autonom ous work teams in mining coal under­
ground. That was the totality of the original “ex­
perim ent” inaugurated by Miller and Hinks, a
small, joint search for innovative mining techniques
which m ight bring greater safety and perhaps pro­
ductivity to coal production. But it could not stay

lost-tim e 1974 record to none in 1975 and none
thus far in 1976.) N or is it coincidence, perhaps,
th at of five prom otions in the mine since m id-1975,
all have come from the 2 South section: four miners
prom oted to foreman and managerial positions, and
one foreman prom oted to assistant training direc­
tor. Further, perceiving the value of the extra train­
ing the experimental crews had received, the mine
m anagement brought in a new training consultant
to expand such training throughout the mine. A nd
the renamed steering committee, now operating as
before but under its new alias, has been wrestling
with a soon-to-be-proposed gain-sharing plan (re­
quested in the original “document no. 1”), report­
edly to resemble a modified “ Scanlon plan” for
profit sharing. Clearly, there were spinoffs from the
original experiment, not specifically bottom -line
productivity improvements, which had significantly
increased the effectiveness of the entire mine and
the utilization of its hum an resources.
“Our way of working” is still very much in place
at Rushton, operating under different names, and
with its new, mine-wide focus. Yet it has not en­
tirely won. Pockets of hard-nose resistance in m an­
agement and among the workers remain unbudged,
although Hinks says m any of those are slowly and
suspiciously “coming around.” The fourth section,
2 N orth, will as yet have none of “our way of work­
ing” (and has had four lost-time accidents thus far
in 1976). There have been several wildcat strikes, at
Eastertim e a big one (about bidding for a single
tem porary job). Problems, lots of them, remain.

Lessons and questions
W hen questioned in August 1976 about his prog­
nosis for the future of “the way we work” at Rushton, the mine president— still as com m itted to its
principles as in 1973— identified his feelings as
“positive.” He paused, then added, “but not eu­
phoric.” He said, looking backward, that a lot of
good things have happened, and, although there’s
no way to know for sure, a lot of bad things have
probably been avoided. Generally, m ost officers of
the local union share H inks5 cautious optimism for
the future; they agree that labor-managem ent dia­
logue and joint consultation are probably perm a­
nently imbedded in the organization. An unpub­
lished 1976 report by UM W officials, however, is
critical of what R ushton has actually achieved in
term s of m ajor safety advances. The report does
not treat the 3-year lost-time and accident perform ­
ance of 2 South, and more recently 1 East, as sig­
W ith the benefit of hindsight, however, alm ost all
who have been involved with the project concur
th at what is m ost significant about the still unfin­


whether in a delayed “Hawthorne effect,” it will
subside down to status quo ante or worse. Still an­
other question is the impact that the labormanagement cooperation and joint decisionmaking
will have on collective bargaining, both locally at
Rushton and perhaps nationally on BCOA-UMW
national agreements.

small. By early 1975, it was evident (looking backward) that peer pressures were already transform­
ing that first experiment into a totally different ef­
fort: the mandatory diffusion of the same
participative notions to the entire organization. The
latter had, and still has, a scale of hugely different
proportion and complexity. For what might be
called the second, evolutionary stage focusing on
the whole mine, involved not just one kind of work,
workers, and technology (digging coal under­
ground) but many. It involved electricians, mainte­
nance workers, bulldozer operators, clerks, supervi­
sors, managers, and trainers. It involved an entire
organization to be introduced slowly and effectively
to “our way or work.”
The basic lesson is that tactical “entry at the bot­
tom,” however initially effective, always has in it
the larvae of the obligatory second stage which, if
not accommodated by carefully preplanned strate­
gies for growth, will grow hungrily and finally
burst out of their chrysalis.
The Trist research team had conceived the total
organization as the experimental locus from the
outset. The two experimental sections—2 South
and 5 Butt—had been conceived and structured as
but initial efforts within a broader, mine-wide plan
of project growth. But the tactics of entry had ob­
scured from the mine population this larger multi­
tier vision: the visible focus to the participants re­
mained too long underground and too long on just
two sections. Had management, local and interna­
tional union, miners, and the consultant team
worked from the outset to eventually bring work
restructure and new participative systems to all, the
Rushton story might have been quite a different
story, avoiding the traumas of 1975 and 1976. True,
M l sanction from top to bottom was present from
the start. To most of the mine organization, how­
ever, strong, organizationwide visibility and precon­
ceived commitment to diffusion were missing.
Many still-unanswered questions remain for time,
the mine’s union and management, and present and
future consultants to answer. The key question, of
course, is whether, in the ad hoc, ex-post-ffacto
manner in which the mine-wide focus arrived, 2
years after the experiment began, “our way of
working” can and will spread effectively to the rest
of the mine, as President Hinks hopes. Another sig­
nificant question is whether the crews working un­
der the new system will sustain their performance
permanently, both in safety and productivity, or

What could happen at Rushton if Arnold Miller
is replaced as UMW president and a new Mine
Workers regime appears, or if Warren Hinks retires
as mine president? Is enough built into the system
to survive such change? What will happen as one by
one the original leaders of the experimental effort
are replaced by younger, newer figures? How
deeply fixed, in other words, are the notions of co­
operation and autonomy? How much are they
merely the temporary objectives of a currently con­
vinced group that will disappear in time?
Underlying these questions are deeper ones. As­
suming that the new system will effectively spread
mine-wide, what will be the long-run effect on pro­
ductivity in mining? On mine safety? On new tech­
nology? On the union and the management? Some
union pessimists still claim that in the long ran,
success of the new system will undermine the
union’s strength and weaken the union irreparably
through gradual disappearance of the adversary at­
titudes. Some managers still claim, in almost equal
pessimism, that success of the new system will per­
manently undermine “management’s right to man­
age” and hand the power of mine management over
to the approval of the men and their union.
Each of these questions reaches beyond events in
a small coal mine in central Pennsylvania. Each
opens up other long-range questions about mine
safety and human productivity in American under­
ground mining in the energy-hungry future. A year
from now, in m id -1977, a Ford Foundation-funded
study of Rushton from 1973 to 1976, prepared by
Dr. Paul Goodman for the Institute of Social Re­
search at the University of Michigan, will reveal
not-yet-available documented details and data of
the impact of the initial experiment and its mine­
wide evolution on miner attitudes, mine effective­
ness in dollar terms, union relations, and the like.
But like this article, that report will not have an
end. The end will be written, as a continuing learn­
ing process, by a harndM of coal miners and their
bosses straggling to learn whether they can work
better together, and how to-do it.



James W. D riscoll
Cooperative departures from traditional collective bar­
gaining behavior have begun to interest scholars and
practitioners.1 Former Secretary of Labor John Dunlop
has chaired the meetings of an informal Labor-Manage­
ment Group at the national level to make recommenda­
tions on macroeconomic policy. Numerous local com­
munities now support area-wide labor-management
committees. And numerous cooperative programs have
appeared in local plants, including quality-of-worklife
programs at General Motors and in-plant committees in
the steel industry, under the auspices of the Federal
Mediation and Conciliation Service, and in the Scanlon
Despite the recent chill in U.S. union-management re­
lations, cooperative programs have arisen because the
two adversaries increasingly face common problems.2
Challenges to both parties are presented by demograph­
ic and attitudinal shifts in the work force, new govern­
mental regulation, technological change, and foreign
All new programs in collective bargaining aiming to
answer these challenges share a common behavioral de­
nominator: they encourage joint problem-solving rather
than traditional bargaining. Richard Walton and Rob­
ert B. McKersie popularized the distinction between
these two techniques of conflict resolution.3 Bargaining
conceals information in order to extract concessions

from an opponent; problem-solving relies on sharing in­
formation in open discussions. Rather than the ex­
change of proposals, problem-solving includes careful
identification of joint concerns, generation of a range of
possible alternatives, and the selection of an alternative
to maximize joint benefits.
Research on these recent problem-solving efforts has
largely consisted of broad overviews and testimonials by
their proponents. Our own recent study takes a look at
three cooperative innovations, running the gamut from
success to failure. Our purpose was to learn whether co­
operative problem-solving between adversaries in collec­
tive bargaining works, and what factors facilitate its

Study of cooperative efforts
Case I describes an attempt to improve the negotia­
tion of contracts through an industry committee. Case
II focuses on efforts to improve the administration of
the grievance procedure in one plant of a large compa­
ny. Case III deals with issues outside the scope of tradi­
tional collective bargaining in a quality-of-worklife
project at a hospital.
In each case, we primarily gathered data by inter­
viewing as many of the regular participants, past and
present, as possible. We interviewed 83 participants
(about half of those involved), including some third-par­
ty participants and about equal numbers of union and
management representatives.4 Joint meetings were also
observed in our study.

James W. Driscoll is an assistant professor at the Sloan School of
Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge,

From the Review of June 1980


More recently, the committee has sponsored studies
of potential industry health hazards growing out of con­
cerns about “meatcutters asthma” and the use of poly­
vinyl chloride wrapping paper, and of the cost of health
benefits under collectively bargained benefit plans. The
health proposals could help reduce benefit costs, while
maintaining or increasing benefit levels for workers.
The committee’s specific accomplishments stem in
large part from the effort of its permanent third parties
and especially the original chairman. He held it together
in its early days and mediated some key contract dis­
putes. Later, when the steering committee became
bogged down (in part from antagonisms generated dur­
ing contract negotiations) the chairman reactivated the
executive committee to provide policy direction from a
group that was not engaged in continuous negotiations.

The retail food committee
Collective bargaining in the ‘retail food industry is ex­
tremely decentralized, with contracts signed in individu­
al cities. Unions have been able to play one local
employer against another in highly unionized areas of
this competitive product market. Along with a skilled
work force, this has led to higher wage levels than those
of workers in other retail trades.
The industry also has a high profile. Labor and man­
agement felt that unless they agreed to address common
problems in collective bargaining, the industry would be
subject to continued wage-price controls (in early 1974).
To reduce this possibility, the three major unions in the
industry— the Retail Clerks, the Meatcutters, and the
Teamsters—met with the major supermarket chains
and employer association representatives in April 1974
to form the Joint Labor-Management Committee of the
Retail Food Industry.
Wayne Horvitz, former chairman of the industry’s
Tripartite Wage Stabilization Committee during the pe­
riod of controls, was chosen as permanent chairman of
the Joint. Committee.
Committee members included the presidents of the
international unions and the chief executives of the ma­
jor supermarket chains. A steering committee was also
established, consisting of the labor-relations vice presi­
dents of the companies and staff officials from the
unions. The steering committee met monthly, while the
original top-level executives convened quarterly to set

Mixed reviews. In summary, the steering committee has
taken action on a number of fundamental industry
problems. For this reason, most of the labor members
praised the committee. Company representatives were
dissatisfied, however, because they wanted the commit­
tee to help reduce the upward pressure on wages from
collective bargaining. However, the companies also
applauded the committee’s work, when specific accom­
plishments were considered.
The disappointment of company members does high­
light a major shortcoming. Although it is involved in
settling local disputes, the committee has not enabled
the parties to achieve a structural breakthrough in mar­
ket-area bargaining. Negotiating contracts for larger
geographical areas facing similar market conditions
might allow greater stability and lower pressure on
wages than current fragmented bargaining patterns. As
a consequence, the frequency of local disputes might de­
cline. Despite progress in some local areas and the
merger of two participating unions— the Clerks and the
Meatcutters, the structural problems of collective
bargaining in the industry remain.

An early start tackling issues. The committee examined
collective bargaining and general industry problems. It
published some general principles to guide contract ne­
gotiations in the industry.
However, the national recommendations have not be­
come standard practice in local negotiations,' although
the committee has targeted key negotiations for national
attention. It has convened local conferences to help
identify problems before contract negotiations begin,
thereby reducing the possibility of work stoppages.
In addition to institutionalizing pre-negotiation con­
ferences, the (neutral) chairman and other committee
members worked closely with the Federal Mediation
and Conciliation Service in mediating a number of
deadlocked negotiations, avoiding several unnecessary
work stoppages and shortening others.
The steering committee has also initiated action on
other problems. In 1976 it undertook a union-manage­
ment study of personal protective equipment for
meatcutters, because both parties were dissatisfied with
a regulation proposed by the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA). As a result, the com­
mittee came up with a more workable clarification of
the standard providing greater protection to workers
and acceptable to OSHA.

A small plant’s alternative
Pressure from external events forced union and man­
agement representatives in a local plant of a large mul­
tinational manufacturer to consider an alternative to
traditional collective bargaining. Shortly after the
founding of this small plant in 1969, demand for its
product slackened. As a local policy, workers were not
laid off, but were used as janitors. Union-management
antagonisms developed, which finally led the corporate
industrial relations staff to recommend that no new
work be assigned to the plant.
By 1972, the plant’s employment had dropped to 35
in the bargaining unit. A consultant from the corporate
organizational development staff, which is separate from
the industrial relations staff, began to work with the
plant management to improve its effectiveness. The con­

sultant quickly became aware of the labor-management
hostility and offered his help, which was accepted by
the plant manager.
From early-1973 to mid-1974, the consultant initiat­
ed, designed, and implemented a series of multiple-day
meetings at which union and management representa­
tives discussed their differences in a carefully orchestrat­
ed format. All local union officers and members of the
bargaining committee met first with the plant manager
and his staff and later with the production supervisors
in the plant.
In the initial meetings, each group openly vented its
dissatisfaction with the other side. Most members par­
ticipated in the discussion, and both sides acknowl­
edged some of their own problems. They subsequently
agreed on areas where joint action was needed by top

Health care union approached
The quality-of-worklife project at the hospital did not
arise from external pressures, as in the cases previously
discussed. Rather, in 1975, a small independent agency
that had been founded to stimulate joint quality-ofworklife projects approached a major union in the
health care field. The union suggested the 1,200-bed pri­
vate, teaching hospital in a major northeastern city as a
site for the project. Relevant parties involved with the'
hospital agreed to support a proposal by the quality-ofworklife agency for Federal funding. The purpose of the
externally funded project was to improve patient care
and the quality of worklife in the hospital.
During the initial discussion of the project, the union
was represented by a vice president; the residents5 com­
mittee (which then had a collective bargaining agree­
ment with the hospital) sent its leader for the
metropolitan area; and the State nurses association was
represented by its statewide director of collective
bargaining. The hospital was represented by its director,
the director of nursing, and the vice Dissident for labor
relations. It was the first and only time that top leaders
from the various parties met during the project.
A steering committee consisting of representatives of
these top leaders was formed to identify a demonstra­
tion unit within the hospital, and to establish a control
group so the effect of the project could be determined.
The steering committee then hired a consulting team, as
called for by the proposal, to initiate the project.

im p r o v e . These meetings dramatically im­
proved the collective bargaining climate, as both sides
unanimously reported. Relations among the participants
of the meetings improved immediately, and most said
that they could now trust opposing members to tell the
truth more often.
R e la tio n s

More importantly, the plant personnel manager and
the local union president agreed on two supplements to
the contract: one to revise the assignment of overtime,
the other to specify job ladders within the plant. Both
issues had previously caused many grievance problems;
now grievances decreased immediately.

C h a n g e in c o n s u l ti n g te a m . Following a slow start, the
first consulting team was dismissed and a second team
was hired, 16 months after the first, top leadership
meeting. The latter consultants initially worked with
rank-and-file workers on the target ward to identify
problem areas for improvement. Later, the consultants
extended their efforts to include higher-level supervisors
and a major department that provides diagnostic serv­
ices for the entire hospital.
At the time of the interviews for this report (Fall
1977), the consultant had been working in the hospital
for 15 months and had undertaken a number of pro­
grams. Workers on the target ward, aided by the con­
sultants, prepared an orientation program for new
residents to ensure continuity in day-to-day work prac­
tices, a major problem in teaching hospitals. The con­
sultants conducted training sessions on interpersonal
skills for workers on the ward, and they began a survey
of attitudes and perceptions of performance for the di­
agnostic department.
It is difficult to assess the impact of these programs
on patient care and worklife because the interviews for
this report focused only on members of the steering
committee. A major evaluation effort is underway to
measure both the delivery of service and the attitude of

The two men also began to meet regularly for openended discussions of plant problems. Indeed,^5when a
department that housed new products developed serious
labor problems, the two held a 3-day meeting with de­
partment representatives.
Finally, the monthly union-management meeting was
expanded from a management briefing to include both
safety issues and specific concerns raised by the union.
In this improved atmosphere, the plant manager was
able to support the introduction of new products.
It is always difficult to untangle the effects of such
development programs from simultaneous external in­
fluences. In this case, new products were brought on
line after the first meeting, so employment had returned
to 200 following the last meeting. A new personnel
manager also came to the plant just before the first
meeting; he was the first to hold that position on a full­
time basis. Finally, a new union president was elected
after the second meeting. He had participated in and
had been impressed by the meetings and continued to
work closely with management, dominating the local
union for several years. Each of these factors undoubt­
edly helped resolve some of the problems.


workers. Nonetheless, labor and management represen­
tatives felt that the stated goals had not been achieved,
and that there had been little impact on the larger col­
lective bargaining system, where most had also hoped
to see some improvement.
Two dynamics are worthy of note in understanding
the quality-of-worklife project. First, the director of the
hospital who endorsed the project was replaced shortly
afterward by a successor whose mandate was to cut
costs. Second, the consulting team worked primarily
with employees in the target ward, members of the di­
agnostic department that was being surveyed, and with
a few steering committee members. The consultants did
not develop the steering committee to be a problem­
solving group.
Guidelines offered
Cooperative projects emerged from these cases not as
panaceas, nor as surefire successes. Rather, practitioners
must exercise caution in the face of optimistic claims for
joint programs and care in their execution. Based on
the three cases studied, it is possible to offer the follow­
ing guidelines for cooperation:
® Do not expect certain success.
® Examine the initial situation to predict the success

of the program; specifically, the felt need for change,
the mutual legitimacy of the parties, and support from
top-level management.
® Expect more interpersonal changes and indirect ef­
fects than specific accomplishments.
® Attempt problem-solving at any hierarchical level.
° Engage a third party with labor-relations experience
and behavioral-science skills.
® Despite the increased risk of failure, identify com­
mon objectives early.
Q Involve “line” officials of both union and manage­
° Develop a cohesive group of labor and management
° Avoid challenges to union or management authori­
® Attempt change in an entire, largely self-contained
social system.
The three cases not only identify a probable pattern
of factors facilitating cooperative problem-solving, but
also suggest a tentative strategy to implement such a
change. These guidelines stress the need for participants
in a joint effort to monitor the process of the change ef­
fort as well as specific substantive issues.

A c k n o w l e d g m e n t : Marvin Israelow and Paul McKinnon assisted in
all phases of the project.
The research reported here was supported by the U.S. Department
of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Evaluation, and
Research (Contract J-9-D-7-0047). The contents of the report are our
responsibility and not that of the Department of Labor. Additional
funding was provided by the Industrial Relations Section of the Sloan
School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of David A. Nadler of
Columbia University, who is assessing the impact of. the quality-ofworklife project at the hospital beyond our current focus on the col­
lective bargaining system. The project activities at the hospital were
conducted under contract HRA 230-75-0179 with the National Cen­


ter for Health Services Research, U.S. Department of Health, Educa­
tion, and Welfare.
Helpful comments were provided by Richard Shore and Edgar
Weinberg of the Department of Labor.
' William Batt and Edgar Weinberg, “Labor-Management Coopera­
tion Today,” Harvard Business Review, January-February, 1978.
2J. W. Driscoll, “A Behavorial-Science View of the Future of Col­
lective Bargaining in the United States,” Labor Law Journal, July
1979, pp. 433-38.
1Richard Walton and Robert B. McKersie, A Behavorial Theory of
Labor Negotiations, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1965, pp. 4 -5 .
4 The interviews lasted from 20 minutes to 8 hours, with a median
length of 1 hour.

Dynamics of establishing cooperative
quality-of-worklife projects
An analysis o f the start-up and operation
o f union-management projects concerned
with restructuring work; forces supporting
and opposing their creation are examined
E d w a r d E. L a w ler III


John A. B rexler ,
ior patterns usually exist. In the case of union-m an­
agement relationships, the persistence of noncooper­
ative behavior is explained by an equilibrium of
forces in which the balance favors noncooperation.
Cooperation will occur only if the forces are altered
to shift th at balance. The relative strength of positive
and negative forces can be changed by increasing the
forces favorable to the new behavior, or decreasing
those opposed.
Two other of Lewin’s ideas are relevant to our
discussion: (1) behavior patterns are m ore effectively
changed when negative forces are reduced than when
positive forces are increased, and (2) behavior p at­
terns are m ore effectively changed when effort is ta r­
geted at the groups involved, rather than at individu­
als. The rationale for the first idea is that increasing
the positive forces has the undesirable side effect of
producing psychological tension among the partici­
pants and, thus, tendencies toward emotionality, fa­
tigue, aggression, and w ithdraw al.4 The rationale for
the second is the potency of group norms, and the
reluctance of people to change their social role be­
havior “on their own” w ithout group support and
concerted action.5
First, we will examine the forces encouraging and
discouraging joint union-m anagem ent projects that
were present in the 10 locations prior to start-up,
then, we will discuss how the existing forces were
altered to produce project start-up.

For years, cooperative projects have been proposed
as a way to improve union-m anagem ent problem
solving, reduce conflict, increase organizational
effectiveness, and create a better quality of worklife
for employees. Prior to 1970, relatively few coopera­
tive projects were started in the United States.1 This
trend has changed, however; recently a num ber of
cooperative union-m anagem ent quality-of-work proj­
ects have been voluntarily started as an adjunct to
the collective bargaining process. In some cases, proj­
ect start-up has been facilitated by a neutral third
party, in others it has not. This article concerns the
dynamics of establishing 10 cooperative union-m an­
agement quality-of-worklife projects that were facili­
tated by a third party, and presents the initial results
from these projects.2

Theoretical analysis of start-ups
K u rt Lewin, an early psychological theorist, de­
veloped a model th at explains the causes of individ­
ual and group behavior in social settings.3 Basic to
his m odel is the notion that multiple forces, both
encouraging and discouraging to specific behaviors,
operate on individuals and groups. Because these
forces are relatively constant over time, stable behavEdward E. Lawler III is program director and professor of psychology
at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, and ■>.visit­
ing scientist at the Battelle Human Affairs Research Centers, Seattle,
Wash. John A. Drexler, Jr., is a research scientist at Battelle.

From the

R e v ie w

of March 1978


and although it was not the m ost im portant force
toward joint projects, it was significant.

Forces favoring joint projects
Complementary goals. Most job and organization
redesign projects in the United States have been initi­
ated and directed by management. In the sites we
studied, both m anagem ent and labor recognized that
such efforts m ight be m ore effective in unionized
workplaces if they were cooperatively directed.
W ithout formal union involvement and cooperation,
significant employee involvement is impossible. Em ­
ployees often have useful information about how jobs
and organizations should be designed. Production
workers, for example, often have the expertise to
identify problem areas and to suggest practical solu­
tions that can make the organization more effective.
Further, participation itself is a factor in improving
the quality of worklife. It can lead to a more satisfied
work force and encourage individual dignity,
growth, and developm ent.6 Thus, employee partici­
pation in the redesign process can help both m anage­
ment and labor accomplish their goals, and as such,
represents a force tow ard cooperation for both

Avoidance o f legislation. Voluntarily established
joint projects have advantages for union and m an­
agement members who wish to avoid imposed legis­
lation. In many European countries, legislation has
been enacted to require union-m anagem ent collabo­
ration. The unions and managements in this study
were aware of a potential for similar legislation in the
United States and saw it as something to be avoided.9
Some stated that voluntary cooperation may prevent
coercive legislation and has the advantage of being
more adaptable to local conditions, as well as more
in tune with Am erican labor relations traditions.
Achieving noneconomic benefits fo r employees. The
union representatives felt they had to discuss noneco­
nomic m atters, but that such issues are not easily or
best accom m odated in the established adversarial
bargaining and grieving process, and thus, an alter­
native approach should be tried. F or them, the coop­
erative approach promised a better response to m em ­
bers’ noneconomic needs, and they were positively
inclined tow ard it.

Reduction o f resistance to change. For management,
another reason for involving unions in a change
process is that such involvement may increase indi­
vidual and group readiness to accept change.7 People
are often reluctant to accept changes if they are not
included in the planning; thus, projects that are uni­
laterally initiated by m anagement are frequently re­
sisted by employees.8 The resistance can be active or
passive, and can take the form of planned noncom ­
pliance or spontaneous noncooperation. Such resist­
ance is often sufficient to make the changes ineffec­
tive or to delay their implementation. The
advantages of participation in aiding im plem entation
was a strong force acting on m anagement in the sites
we studied. Several had tried to produce change uni­
laterally and were aware of the potential advantages
of joint change efforts.

More efficient decisionmaking. In most sites, union
and m anagement officials had spent long periods in
adversarial relations and were dissatisfied with the
rigidities and rituals associated with these relation­
ships. Strikes and prolonged negotiations had taken
their toll on both sides, and the belief was expressed
that “there m ust be a better way.’’ Thus, out of fa­
tigue— and perhaps boredom —both unions and
managements were attracted tow ard an approach
that promised limited relief from adversarial cere­
mony, while still serving their respective interests.

Forces opposing joint projects
Goal differences. The strongest negative force in
most sites was the broadly shared belief th at unions
and m anagements have different and potentially con­
flicting goals. Union leaders talk of employment se­
curity, higher wages, improved benefits, and job
rights. M anagers talk of m aintaining profitability,
productivity, and achieving greater organizational
effectiveness. Thus, at least on the surface, the im por­
tant goals of unions and m anagements are different
and there seems to be little comm on ground to serve
as a basis for cooperative projects.

Permanence o f changes. A nother advantage of joint
changes is that they may be more sustainable and
perm anent than those unilaterally imposed. There
are two reasons for this. First, the m aintenance of
joint changes does not depend on a few key people
but, instead, is a public com m itm ent of two groups.
Second, when both sides agree to a change, as long
as either one rem ains comm itted, it is difficult for the
other to withdraw. The force here is not one of a
specific contract, but one of m utual com m itm ent to
honor the cooperative relationship. Thus, for both
union leaders and m anagers who want to see changes
institutionalized, joint projects offer a promise of
continuity. This was recognized by some of the union
and m anagem ent representatives in the sites studied,

Lack o f a model. There are few models of how to
structure union-m anagem ent projects. The E uro­
pean models were largely rejected by both the unions
and m anagements as fitting different cultures with
different union structures and different political envi­
ronm ents.10 This attitude was illustrated by Thom as

about joint projects taking away some of their tradi­
tional prerogatives in the areas of staffing, work de­
sign, and the evaluation of performance.
The power of union leaders often rests upon sup­
port from the rank-and-file membership. A m anager
may be removed from office by superiors; but union
officers can be voted out of office by the membership.
Unions can also be decertified by a vote of the m em ­
bers. There is evidence that because of this, union
leaders generally feel less secure in their jobs than do
managers, and more often perceive change as th reat­
ening.11 Furtherm ore, m any union officers have ob­
tained office and power on the basis of their skill in
handling adversary relationships. In entering into a
joint project, they undertake to change something
that, at least in one respect, has been good to them:
an adversary relationship that focuses on a contract
and bread-and-butter issues. In the projects we stud­
ied, some union officers did fear that a cooperative
project would threaten their power; in some cases the
local officers were concerned about support from
their peers or from regional and international offi­
cers. Consistent with this are the results of a recent
study which found that a group of union leaders rate
quality-of-worklife issues as the most threatening
that they confront.12

D onahue of the A FL -C IO in a discussion of union
m em bership on corporate boards of directors, a
trend in Europe. D onahue stated that such moves
“offer little to Am erican unions . . . we do not want
to blur in any way the distinctions between the re­
spective roles of m anagem ent and labor in the plan.”
If unions were to become a “partner in m anage­
m ent,” he suggested, they would likely be “the junior
partner in successes and the senior partner in fail­
ure.” Thus, a problem in starting projects in the
United States is that an institutionalized Am erican
approach has not yet been developed, and as a result,
both the unions and m anagements in the sites studied
were hesitant to undertake a cooperative project.
L ack o f knowledge and experience. Most of the union
and m anagem ent leaders were competent in their
traditional roles, but were not knowledgeable about
organizational development, job redesign, and or­
ganizational psychology. The union leaders, particu­
larly, had limited exposure to the basic principles
involved, and, therefore, to the risks and potential
benefits arising from a quality-of-worklife project.
Only one union had a staff person with professionallevel training in the design of work and social sys­
tems. For the union leaders particularly, but also for
some managers, this m eant that they would have to
be m ore dependent than usual upon the judgm ents of
others purporting to be experts. For most, this was
a significant force against com m itm ent to a joint

Im pact on contract roles. Labor-m anagem ent quality-of-worklife projects necessarily raise questions
about contractual protections. W hich m atters are to
be handled within and outside of the contract? Will
there be proposals to limit or suspend contractual
term s in order to allow the trial of some alternative
course of action? Both m anagem ent and union lead­
ers expressed concern that protection achieved by
hard bargaining might be difficult to regain or sup­
plant if once yielded. A few union leaders thought
that the erosion of contractual agreements m ight be­
come progressive, particularly if the joint program
was successful, leaving workers without those pro­
tections and perhaps w ithout the conviction th at a
strong union is necessary. Such concerns were ex­
pressed m ost often by those individuals, both union
and m anagement, whose responsibilities included
negotiating contracts.

Past adversary relationships. The union-management
relationships were all long-term adversary relation­
ships. In most cases, the past experiences of bargain­
ing and grievance were more of a hindrance than a
help because they represented behaviors that had to
be put aside. G roup norm s existed that discouraged
any nonadversary interactions between sides. Lewin
pointed out that such situations make change partic­
ularly difficult to produce and, indeed, in the sites
studied, it was a strong force against joint projects.
Loss o f power. The m anagers and union leaders felt
that cooperative projects could be a threat to their
power to control events and to ensure meeting their
responsibilities. For managers, power is usually cen­
tered at the top of the hierarchy and decreases
through succeeding levels. M iddle and lower level
m anagers often are hesitant to engage in new activi­
ties unless they are clearly supported by their superi­
ors. This means that starting a project requires get­
ting support all the way up and down the
m anagem ent hierarchy. This kind of broad support
for a joint project can be difficult to obtain because
of a fear of losing power. For example, m anagers at
all levels in the sites we studied were concerned

Time involved. Cooperative projects often take time
to get started and to show results. For example, in
the projects studied, 12 to 18 m onths were typically
required to take a project from conception to actual
initiation. Once started, the projects required further
time to become fully functional. The fear of slow
progress, or no progress, acted as a force against
project start-up on both the unions and m anage­

Am biguity o f goals and outcomes. Differing or am­
biguous expectations represented another blocking
force in most of the projects. It is hard to attract
people to a potentially risky cooperative project
without there being some explicit understanding
about focal issues and directions of change. At the
same time, the agreement about focal issues and spe­
cific directions of change must arise out of the proc­
ess itself if it is truly to be a joint effort. In one case,
some individuals thought the project would aim at
convenience matters, such as improved parking and
payroll functions; others saw supervisory behavior as
the target for change; still others believed that spe­
cific jobs would be redesigned to be less boring and
tedious; finally, one top manager thought that lower
level joint committees would identify and define pol­
icy issues to be brought to him and the local union
president for solution. At this site, as in others, gen­
eral agreement to go ahead was difficult to obtain
because of these differing initial goal expectations.
Qualified consultants. The final negative force was
the difficulty of finding qualified consultants who
have the experience, credibility, and skills necessary
to deal with cooperative projects. In all of the cases
we studied, questions were raised by both manage­
ments and unions about the neutrality of proposed
consultants, most of whom had prior experience only
as consultants to management.

tary rather than conflicting. Most managers will
agree that an improved quality of worklife is a ration­
al goal because organizations cannot perform well
when the workers have a poor quality of worklife.
Most union representatives will concede that organi­
zational effectiveness is in their interest because un­
ions cannot continue to advance the security and
wages important to their members in ineffective or­
ganizations. The third parties also pointed out that
there are some goals that are shared by managements
and unions (such as, safety in a mine, patient care in
a hospital).
Providing a model. The negative force of lack of a
model was reduced in all of the cases by establishing
joint labor-management committees with equal rep­
resentation from union and management. These
committees were established with an understanding
that they were an adjunct to, rather than replace­
ment for, collective bargaining. In most cases, the
idea for the committee was provided by a third party,
but in one case it was suggested by the union. Often
committees were established at several organiza­
tional levels in a multi-tier arrangement. For exam­
ple, in two cases, joint committees were established
at the international union and corporate headquar­
ters level, at the regional level, and at the local level.
The creation of these committees was an inportant
event in all sites, not only because the committees
served as a mechanism for moving the project ahead,
but also because they were seen as a joint body that
could not be dominated by either side. In many proj­
ects, this was a key factor in reducing the fears of
both sides, and the formation of such committees
was seen as a clear first step the project could take.

Creating conducive conditions
The existing negative forces in a workplace are
usually stronger than the forces that favor joint proj­
ects. As such, while a desire for change may be pre­
sent, the opposing forces are typically so strong that
project start-up is precluded until some change in the
forces occurs. This was true in all the projects we
studied. Our analysis of these joint projects indicates
that successful start-ups occurred because of some
key interventions that reduced the forces acting
against joint projects. Without these interventions by
third parties, it is doubtful that project start-up
would have occurred.

Adversary history. In all cases, some insulation from

Role o f third parties . The third parties in the projects
introduced new ideas, served as a communications
link, and helped break down false stereotypes. As
stated earlier, Lewin believed that reducing opposing
forces is more likely to result in positive change than
is increasing favoring forces. The third parties real­
ized this, for they worked to reduce the forces operat­
ing against joint projects. For example, in dealing
with the blocking force of conflicting union and man­
agement goals, the third parties showed both sides
that their goals, while different, may be complemen­

Providing information. A number of approaches
were used to educate potential participants about
joint projects. Key individuals attended seminars
and other conferences, and many union and manage­
ment leaders visited ongoing projects before they
agreed to go ahead with their own. Union representa­
tives from other projects were brought to sites where
efforts were being made to initiate new projects. This
was effective in reducing resistance because union
members seemed to understand and trust their coun­
terparts’ descriptions of their experiences.

past adversary relationships was obtained by bring­
ing into the new committees individuals who had not
previously been associated in adversary roles. In
some instances, people in such roles were explicitly
excluded, in part to protect their roles and in part to
symbolize the nonadversarial nature of the commit­


One reason the projects continue is that the com ­
mittee structures used in the projects lead to changes
that are jointly created and “owned.” In the projects
studied, it took only a few meetings of the joint com ­
mittees before the rhetoric changed from “you need
to do som ething” to “we need to do som ething.”
Changes in seating arrangem ents also reflected the
spirit of cooperation that develops. In early com m it­
tee meetings, the union and m anagem ent representa­
tives tended to sit across the table from each other
in confrontation style; later they mixed up their seat­
ing arrangem ents. Com m ittee members also seem to
accept quickly the fact that a joint process is viable,
and that changes can be m ade which will help both
the employees and the organization.
In all cases, union and m anagem ent representa­
tives have discovered th at m uch work is involved if
meaningful organizational change is to be accom ­
plished, in part, because the committees operate on
a consensus basis, and will not implem ent a decision
unless there is widespread support for it. However,
it also reflects the complexity of the issues with
which the committees deal and the ambiguity of
what is supposed to happen in the joint committees.
The committees typically begin with a wide open
charter to improve the quality of worklife and with
no specific problems to solve. In one sense, their
biggest problem is not having any concrete problems
with which to start. The result typically is a long
period of education, frustration, and, finally, prob­
lem identification and problem solving. In addition,
the right of committees to discuss contractual issues
is not clear in m ost projects. They have been dis­
cussed, but often with a lack of clarity concerning the
com m ittee’s ability to affect them.
M ost committees have started by dealing with
local housekeeping issues (for example, issues con­
cerning parking and cafeteria facilities), then they
deal with issues concerning work and organization
redesign. Some have started with the need for more
training and employee development. This is a logical
area for action, because it influences both organiza­
tional effectiveness and the quality of worklife for
individuals. A nother frequently discussed issue is
pay systems— most of the projects have searched for
and tried to implem ent pay plans in which workers
share in the benefits of increased performance. Job
redesign is a third area in which most of the projects
have m ade changes. In some cases, they have pro­
vided for individual job enrichm ent, while in others,
they have used team approaches to job design.
None of the projects shows evidence of the worst
fears of either unions or m anagements being realized.
No unions have been decertified, no union leaders
have lost power or elections, and no m anagers have
been fired. There have been some problems, however.

Potential loss o f power. Two main approaches were
taken to m oderate forces arising from fear of power
loss or loss of control. One was an agreement to work
together on a basis of consensus decisions within the
committees; no action could be taken if even one
m em ber was strongly opposed. While this led to the
decisionmaking becoming laborious and tim e-con­
suming after start-up, especially in the early stages of
the work, it was necessary to allay fears that one side
or the other may be coerced into undesirable actions.
F urther, in m ost of the sites studied, there was a
form al written agreem ent designed to protect the
parties and various groups that might be affected by
actions taken. These agreements varied in content,
but typically included the provision that either union
or m anagem ent could, on short notice, unilaterally
discontinue the effort, and that employees would be
guaranteed against job loss or pay loss from actions
arising from the cooperative effort.
Finding consultants. Several mechanisms were used
to deal with the problem of finding acceptable con­
sultants. A third party that specializes in starting
joint projects screened the resumes of potential con­
sultants and then arranged for interviews of several
consultants by the joint committees. This helped as­
sure that the consultants would be acceptable to both
the union and m anagement; in addition, it com ­
m unicated to the consultant the joint character of the
projects. To increase the pool of experienced consult­
ants, intern program s have been established at sev­
eral sites to train younger people interested in this
Overview: reducing negative forces. The approaches
used either partially or completely reduced m ost of
the forces acting against the establishment of cooper­
ative joint projects. It is im portant to note, however,
that two negative forces— the time required and the
im pact on the contract— were not dealt with in m ost
situations. Still, the approaches used achieved
enough of a net reduction of the forces against coop­
eration to allow a start-up.

Initial results
All of the labor-m anagem ent quality-of-worklife
projects are still alive, although the survival of two
is in question. Several have existed for more than 3
years. Their duration is particularly interesting be­
cause the agreements th at started the projects allow
the parties to w ithdraw easily and quickly. A ppar­
ently, the approaches used to shift the balance to
favor joint projects perm anently changed the situa­
tion. This is consistent with Lewin’s predictions
about the effects of participation and of public group
comm itm ents.


In three cases, the existence of a cooperative project
has caused internal problems on the union side; ten­
sion has increased and opposition groups have devel­
oped. In two cases, it has worsened the relationship
between the international and the local taking part in
the project. On the m anagem ent side, there have also
been problems. The expected gains in performance
have not yet been realized in some cases, and this,
combined with the slow progress, has led to some
disagreement about the w orth of the projects.

studied. The forces against progress were quite
strong and probably are typical of those in most
Overall, the conditions which led to the projects
do not seem to be unique. Joint projects in other
workplaces are certainly feasible, particularly if these
early projects are successful and third party efforts to
stim ulate interest in projects continue. However, it is
im portant to note that two of the forces against joint
projects— the time they require and their possible
impact on contracts— have not yet been dealt with.
In two sites, the contract problem was handled by a
clause in the contract specifying the existence of a
committee, but these sites are the exception rather
than the rule. U ntil an approach is developed to deal
with both of these forces, joint projects will probably
be limited to those situations in which the conditions
are relatively favorable, and strong forces favoring
cooperation are present.

h e e v i d e n c e s t r o n g l y indicates that the initia­
tion of joint quality-of-worklife projects can be aided
by reducing the forces against cooperation. The ap­
proaches that were identified are widely applicable,
and their use could lead to the initiation of m ore joint
projects. The forces identified as favoring joint proj­
ects probably exist in most workplaces, although per­
haps not to the degree they are present in the sites


-FOOTNOTES1See Edward Weinberg, “Labor-management cooperation: a report on
recent initiatives,” Monthly Labor Review, April 1976, pp. 13-22. Also
see descriptions of current projects provided in the National Center for
Productivity and Quality of Working Life Directory o f Labor Manage­
ment Committees, 1976.

5 Ibid., p. 34.
6 Rensis Likert, The Human Organization (New York, McGraw-Hill,
7 Kenneth D. Benne and Max Bimbaum, “Principles of changing,” in
Warren G. Bennis, Kenneth D. Benne, and Robert Chin, eds., The
Planning o f Change (New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969), pp.

2 Most of the projects discussed in this paper were started as part of
the Quality of Work Program of the Institute for Social Research (ISR)
at the University of Michigan and the American Center for the Quality
of Work Life (ACQWL) of Washington, D.C. The role of ACQWL is
to initiate broad ranging joint quality-of-worklife improvement projects
by soliciting the support and interest of individual managements and
unions. ACQWL establishes a structure of joint labor-management com­
mittees at participating sites and serves as a third party during project
start-up and initial planning stages; an independent consultant is usually
chosen jointly by unions and management as a third party once the
change project begins. The primary role of ISR is to document individual
projects and to evaluate and assess their impact on organizational effec­
tiveness and individual worker outcomes, such as satisfaction and safety.
Funding for the overall effort is provided through grants from the Ford
Foundation and the Economic Development Administration of the U.S.
Department of Commerce.

8 Lester Coch and John R. P. French, Jr., “Overcoming resistance to
change,” in Dorwin Cartwright and Alvin Zander eds., Group Dynamics
(New York, Harper and Row, 1968, 3d. ed.), pp. 336-50.
9 Edward E. Lawler, “Should the quality of work life be legislated?”

The Personnel Administrator, January 1976, pp. 17-21.
10 Nancy Foy and Herman Gadon, “Worker participation: Contrasts
in three countries,” Harvard Business Review, May-June 1976, pp. 7183.
11 Edwin A. Miller, “The study of job attitudes of national union
officers,” unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California,
Berkeley, 1964.
12 Thomas A. Kochan, David V. Lipsky, and Lee Dyer, “Collective
bargaining and the quality of work: The views of local union activists,”
Proceedings o f the Twenty-Seventh Annual Winter Meeting, IRRA, Dec.
28-29, 1974, pp. 150-62.

3 Kurt Lewin, “Frontiers in group dynamics,” Human Relations,
1947, pp. 5-41.
4 Kurt Lewin, “Frontiers in group dynamics,” p. 26.


The process of work restructuring
and its impact on collective bargaining

L e o n a r d A. Schlesing er
R ic h a r d E. W alton


projects? How do they deal with these perceived
risks? How does the handling of these projects af­
fect the nature of collective bargaining relationships
and processes? W ith respect to the third question,
we take as a reference the theory set forth in a book
one of us coauthored in 1965, which proposed four
subprocesses as comprehensive of the m ajor dy­
namics of labor-m anagem ent negotiations.1

To date, work restructuring in America has taken
place m ostly within nonunion organizations. The
U.S. labor movement has generally viewed job re­
design, quality of worklife, and related activities
with suspicion. In recent years, however, a num ber
of unions have become interested in these issues
and have joined with m anagement groups to effect
basic changes in the structure of the workplace.
Our study is based on work restructuring
projects in eight U.S. firms. The vehicle used for
dealing with work restructuring issues in each situa­
tion was a joint labor-managem ent committee sepa­
rate and distinct from the bargaining committees.
These committees had an equal num ber of m anage­
m ent and union representatives. M anagem ent mem ­
bers were chosen by top management, and union
members either were appointed by the leadership or
elected by the membership.
We have reviewed these joint efforts with three
questions in mind. How do the various participants
perceive the risks of their involvement in these

The network of participants
O ur current conception of the netw ork of partici­
pants in a joint work restructuring effort includes
not only the local union and local m anagement, but
also first line supervisors, union stewards, corporate
m anagement, the international union, and the
workers themselves. Each group perceived unique
risks associated with its participation. In each case,
the strategies of involvement included factors in­
tended to minimize these perceived risks.
Local management. Plant managers saw m ajor risks
with respect to three groups. First, they were wary
that their corporate superiors would be less sup­
portive of plant level work restructuring efforts in
actual practice than corporate rhetoric would
promise. Thus, plant m anagers took into account
certain career risks. Second, they were concerned
th at work restructuring activities would somehow
worsen rather than enhance worker-m anagem ent

Leonard A. Schlesinger is a doctoral candidate in organizational
behavior at Harvard University. Richard E. Walton, also at Harvard,
is a professor in the Graduate School o f Business Administration.
This excerpt is drawn from “ Work Restructuring in Unionized
Organizations: Risks, Opportunities, and Impact on Collective
Bargaining,” a paper presented at the 29th annual meeting of the In­
dustrial Relations Research Association, September 1976.

From the Review of April 1977


relations; or would enhance worker m orale without
economic benefit and at a significant cost of m ana­
gerial time and effort; or would have short-term hu­
m an and economic benefits but serve to further
raise employee expectations, laying the ground for
future disappointm ent. We found that these first
two concerns, which exist in both nominionized
and unionized plants, were amplified for plant m an­
agements in a unionized situation. Such amplifica­
tion relates to the third group with which plant
m anagem ent perceives substantial risks; namely,
the local union.
Local plant m anagers’ greatest fears derive from
experiences in their adversarial relations with the
local union—fears th at the union would exploit the
cooperative venture to achieve their own adversarial
ends; or would disrupt the venture if it appeared to
gain acceptance among workers.

chinery was replaced by the joint committee. Where
there was a “sign-off” from sections of the collec­
tive bargaining agreement, it was agreed that the
“sign-off” was voluntary and could be revoked by
either party.

Supervision. In several projects a common com ­
plaint from both union and m anagem ent groups
went as follows: “We were really working nicely
and making real progress and then the foremen
went and screwed everything up.”
M any of the first-level supervisors interviewed
displayed distrust tow ard both their m anagement
superiors and the union. They often feared that
m anagement was attem pting to eliminate their jobs,
or the union was attem pting to strip them of their
decisionmaking or supervisory authority, or both.
Indeed, it is often assumed by the planners that
work restructuring will ultimately eliminate or de­
crease the num ber of first-line supervisors as work
team s are better able to coordinate their work and
handle more of their own hum an problems, In any
event, the supervisors’ role is expected to change so
significantly that some supervisors rightly have
feared they will not be able to perform effectively in
the redefined role. Thus, there is a realistic basis to
the fears of the first-line supervisor. However, not
surprisingly, supervisors are better prepared to play
a constructive role in implementing a restructuring
effort if they are involved in the design process.

Local unions. Full participation in a joint effort
raises the trust issue for local union officials, ju st as
it does for managers. M any union officials ex­
pressed the suspicion that work restructuring, work
reform and quality of worklife were just new terms
for “speed up” and therefore entered into the proc­
ess quite wary of m anagem ent’s intentions.
Some substantive features which characterize
m any work restructuring efforts are of im portant
concern. Often the num ber of job classifications
have been reduced in order to allow for greater op­
erational flexibility and m ore meaningful tasks.
Union officials who have viewed this change in iso­
lation w ithout respect to other changes were suspi­
cious of giving up some boundaries w ithout know­
ing how the flexibility m ight be used and perhaps
abused. Even m ore concern has surrounded the re­
structuring that incorporates m any m aintenance
functions into operating teams, thereby reducing
the size of a separate m aintenance group. This pro­
p o sal and one which involved the cross-training of
m aintenance specialists threaten jurisdictions care­
fully developed and preserved over m any decades.
Certainly, at the outset, it has not been obvious to
union officials how the larger patterns of restruc­
tured work could justify giving up the benefits
which these jurisdictional boundaries have pro­
vided. N ot that such changes would be appropriate
or proposed as a part of any particular joint effort,
but they have been a part of some projects and may
be viewed with alarm by a union official assessing
the risks of participating in a joint project.
In brief, union officials do not want to overturn
the gains generated via collective bargaining. To
cope with this concern, at m ost of the sites it was
agreed to preserve the sanctity of the union agree­
m ent, although in a few instances the grievance m a­

Union representatives,/stewards. Union representa­
tives, not unlike supervisors, often fear that work
restructuring will diminish their role. As employees
have been encouraged to speak for themselves in
various forms ranging from work-team meetings to
plantwide task forces, the steward has been less
exclusively relied upon as a channel of com m unica­
tion including “grievances.” M uch the same in­
volvement pattern that is called for in the case of
remedying some of the problems surrounding su­
pervisors applies to union representatives as well.
As a contrast to the risks associated with exclu­
sion from projects, in a few instances in which
stewards have developed a high sense of ownership
about the innovative work structures, their enthusi­
asm created risks for them personally and for. the
work restructuring program. In one of the sites
studied, the steward of the experimental depart­
m ent took it upon himself to handle all of the pol­
icy and procedure questions that needed to be re­
solved with the com pany without consulting the
union hierarchy. When confronted at a union meet­
ing about his actions, he stated, “W hat happens in
departm ent X is none of your business.” This
stance created significant antagonism on the part of

both the union leadership and the rank and file out­
side tiie experimental unit.

reason for the involvement of the international
union is that it serves as a source of reassurance To
local union leaders and the rank and file that they
are not being “hoodw inked” by m anagem ent and
m anagem ent consultants.

Workers. W orkers, not unlike the supervisors we
have discussed, are often in the position of m istrust­
ing both m anagement and the union leadership.
W ith m anagement they may have played the con­
ventional games of reciprocal m anipulation regard­
ing work standards, overtime scheduling, and the
like. W ith the union, they may have regarded its
leadership as too politically m otivated and its pro­
grams as unresponsive to some of their im portant
Some of the employee distrust derived from mis­
perceptions of what work restructuring actually
meant. Like m anagement, they initially assumed
the project would take the same form in their orga­
nization that it has taken in some other project that
has received wide publicity for job rotation or workteam formation. Therefore, some of the efforts to
familiarize workers with work restructuring raise
m ore concerns than they allay and unnecessarily so.
M uch of the early effort at the sites studied was
devoted to allaying other m ore realistic fears which
employees expressed, through vehicles such as: (1) a
guarantee of sanctity for the union agreement; (2) a
guarantee that layoffs or cutbacks would occur
only through attrition; (3) a guarantee th at individ­
uals would lose no wages as a result of changes; (4)
in cases where productivity was an expressed pur­
pose of changes, a guarantee that workers would
share in the economic benefits; and (5) an opportu­
nity to end participation in a joint effort on short

Im pact oia the bargaining proce ss
W ork restructuring by joint committees appears
to follow a precedent in labor relations for isolating
problem solving and bargaining activities. The use
of joint committees at the site level followed by
bargaining committees at the top level is not an in­
frequent combination. Such a procedure provides
the opportunity to involve m ore people in an open
and spontaneous exploration of issues w ithout pre­
venting the parties from addressing the issues in a
controlled and channeled decisionmaking process at
a later point in time.
But such separation is not always readily
achieved in practice. Union officials interviewed
said that managing the different relationships exist­
ing in the joint comm ittee and collective bargaining
frameworks posed the m ost formidable problem.
Basically, the W alton and M cKersie theory indi­
cates th at labor negotiations are comprised of four
subprocesses — bargaining, problem solving, altitu ­
dinal structuring, and internal 'consensus seeking.
The theory acknowledges that each of these proc­
esses has its own internal logic — each complex in
its own right — and th at the m ost interesting and
challenging aspects of negotiations occur as a result
of the interaction between pairs of these sub­
O ur research to date leads us to make several ob­
servations pertinent to the theory. First, the work
restructuring activity increases somewhat, and
m aybe even dram atically, the ratio of problem solv­
ing to bargaining activity com pared with th at nor­
mally observed in U.S. collective bargaining. This
in turn places a higher premium on structuring atti­
tudes r f m utual trust and respect. A lthough partici­
pants currently differentiate between “work restruc­
turing” activities and “collective bargaining” in
order not to allow their problem solving and bar­
gaining to interfere with each other, over time the
parties can become m ore integrated in their think­
ing and actions.
Second, work restructuring activity presents
some novel problem s for union leaders in seeking
rank-and-file consensus for agreements they enter
into with management.
N either of the above, however, requires any revi­
sion of W alton-M cK ersie’s four subprocess theory.
But our next observation is not comprehended
within the framework of that theory.

Corporate management/international union. A t
m any of the sites studied, the involvement of either
corporate level m anagem ent or the international
union leadership, or both, was critical to the joint
effort. However, the nature of involvement varied
considerably. In one instance corporate m anage­
m ent offered to be a consulting resource; it was able
to do little more because of the divisionalized na­
ture of the firm. Similarly, when contacted for assist­
ance by management, the national leader of a divi­
sionalized union informed m anagement that all
work restructuring issues were handled at the re­
gional level.
In contrast, corporate leaders in another firm
com m itted themselves to a worklife improvement
program and actively sought out and enlisted key
m anagers in the effort. Similarly, one union studied
insisted that no m atter how small a joint effort was
to be, effective coordination and supervision should
be provided by the international leadership. One


Third, work restructuring is a reflection of and,
in turn, will prom ote a trend in the United States
tow ard “participatory democracy” in the work­
place. Collective bargaining and the W altonM cKersie theory, which attem pted to capture the
essence of the institution as then practiced in the
U nited States, contem plated a form of “representa­
tive dem ocracy,” where workers’ influence was ex­
ercised through union representatives in a twoparty (union-management) forum.
W ork restructuring involves workers directly in
determining conditions affecting their work. This,
in turn, reinforces their expectations that they will
be afforded an opportunity for direct participation
in the future. In the extreme case, workers develop
a belief that “decisions affecting me are only legiti­
m ate if I participate in them directly.”
Direct involvement is more feasible if units, small
enough so that individuals can see themselves as a
“significant part of the whole,” are given some au­
tonom y to determine what is best for them. This
autonom y, in turn, increases the diversity among
units within the same larger facility, underm ining
the concept that equity can only be achieved
through uniformity (a principle of traditional
unionism and a natural corollary to representative

democracy). The tendency tow ard diversity asso­
ciated with work restructuring extends to the level
of the individual. W hereas, historically, work has
tended to be progressively deskilled to accom mo­
date some engineering conception of the “lowest
common denom inator” of hum an skills and m otiva­
tion, the trend is being reversed in many cases in
favor of providing challenge to employees to de­
velop and then utilize their capacities. Obviously,
the new trend will require that we take m ore ac­
count of individual differences in the workplace.
All of these interrelated trends tow ard direct par­
ticipation—smaller units with greater autonom y,
diversity within units traditionally m anaged by
principles of uniformity, more accom odation of in­
dividual differences in preferences and capacities—
will require some revision of both the practices and
theory of collective bargaining, with their tradi­
tional emphasis on representational influence sys­
tems and two-party decisionmaking.
--------- FOOTNOTE--------1
Richard E. Walton and Robert B. McKersie, A Behavioral Theory
of Labor Negotiations: An Analysis of a Social Interaction System (New
York, McGraw-Hill, 1965).

M oving quality-of-w orklife program s into the w orkplace
The core of this approach is to encourage employees to participate
in the key decisions that affect and determine day-to-day work pat­
terns. It recognizes that the person who does a job is the person who
knows that job best. And it seeks to draw upon the expertise and
creativity of a better-educated work force to help redesign and
reorganize work in ways that meet the needs and demands of working
people today and encourage them to maximize their contributions to
the productivity of the organizations that employ them . . . .
Quality of worklife is an adventure in cooperation and consultation
among people who must function together in work situations. There
are no set formulas for success—except that success is unlikely unless
free and easy interchange is encouraged at all levels. Management,
particularly, must be genuinely willing to consult with employees, to
consider their ideas and opinions, and to communicate frankly before
implementing decisions. Obviously, the cooperation of unions, too, is
essential in moving quality-of-worklife programs out of the concep­
tual stages and into thousands of individual workplaces.
----- William M. Batten,
Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange
From an address in the Dean’s Lecture Series at
the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania,
November 1979


Flexible schedules:
problems and issues

Ja nic e N eipert H edges
period commonly is 4 to 6 hours in length and
spans the middle of the former schedule. A “flexible
band” of up to several hours during which a worker
can elect to begin work at any time replaces a spe­
cific starting time. Similarly, a specific quitting time
is replaced by a band of several hours following
core time.
In systems where the contractual hours m ust be
worked each day, quitting time for a worker on any
day is determined by that worker’s starting time the
same day. In more flexible systems, those in which
credit and debit hours can be carried over to other
days, a worker can elect to stop work any time after
core hours.

Following three decades of stability in full-time
work schedules, alternatives to the standard 5-day
40-hour week began to appear in the early 1970’s.
The initiative came prim arily from management,
seeking improvements in worker morale and output
per unit of labor and capital investment. A lthough
labor leaders continued to espouse a shorter work­
week, many workers seemed willing to settle for a
rearrangem ent of their hours.
Schedules that compressed a full 40-hour work­
week into 4, or even 3, days dom inated the early
innovations.1 But before the mid-1970’s, a different
type of schedule— flexitime— gained prominence.
Like the compressed workweek, flexitime involves
no change in total hours of work. But it is unique in
that it transfers some control over the timing of
work from supervisors to individual workers, based
on a philosophy that workers should have the right,
insofar as their work permits, to adjust their begin­
ning and ending hours to meet their personal needs
and preferences.
The basic mechanics of flexitime are simple. The
fixed daily schedule, during which everyone is ex­
pected to work, is designated as “core tim e.” This

Just how flexible a flexitime system is varies from
one installation to another. There are differences in
the length of core time (which can range from half
to three-quarters of the former workday), in the
width of the flexible bands (which in some cases are
as narrow as 30 minutes), and in the length of the
period in which total hours worked m ust be bal­
anced with total hours required (which can be a
day, a week, or even longer). The degree of flexibil­
ity in a particular system depends on the am ount of
control m anagement is willing to transfer to work­
ers, the relative isolation or interdependence in
which a worker functions, the constraints imposed
by the laws and collective bargaining agreements
that cover specific groups of employers and their
employees, and the interaction of those laws and
agreements with scheduled hours of work.

Janice Neipert Hedges is an economist in the Office of Current Em­
ployment Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics. This overview is based
in part on her participation as the United States representative to an
international meeting of experts on the allocation of work and leisure,
sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Devel­
opment (OECD) in Paris in 1974.

From the Review of February 1977


creases; overtime hours frequently are reduced; util­
ization of plant and equipm ent improve; service to
clients increases; and employees assume more re­
sponsibility for their own work and that of their

Flexitime systems in Europe, where overtime pay
provisions are less restrictive, generally are much
more flexible than in this country. M any of the in­
stallations in Germany, Switzerland, and G reat
Britain, for example, provide for credit and debit
hours to be carried over from 1 week to another,
and in limited amounts, even from 1 m onth to an­
other. Experience with varying degrees of flexibility
indicates that the greater the flexibility, the greater
the benefits. For example, the likelihood of a drop
in absence and of a rise in productivity tends to in­
crease with greater flexibility.

Problem s related to flexitime
But the record is not all positive. The three re­
ports reveal typical scheduling problem s encoun­
tered under flexitime that need to be resolved if the
system is to succeed and, even m ore so, if it is to
produce maximum benefits. Problems, such as lack
of support for flexitime or its possible abuse, either
by workers or by management, are less likely to oc­
cur if workers and unions are involved in the pro­
cess of planning, introducing, and modifying the

The degree of flexibility elected by workers under
such scheduling options also varies. Studies show
that some workers use flexible working hours daily;
others, only occasionally; and still others adhere to
their former schedules. Differences among workers
in their use of flexitime are determined by factors
such as responsibilities and interests outside of
work, place of residence, and m ethod of com m ut­
ing. Decisions are also affected by schedules of
schools, churches, government agencies, and those
of m erchants from whom they purchase goods and
The three summary reports that follow are from
among the first detailed accounts by m anagers in
the United States of their experience with flexitime.
They relate to a variety of work environments as
found in a drag company, a com puter firm, and a
government office, and include research and devel­
opment, production, office, marketing, and cus­
tom er service operations. Each report draws from
company records and attitudinal surveys and cov­
ers roughly the same ground: the terms of the flex­
itime system, its origin and objectives, the basic
problems encountered, and the results for m anage­
m ent and workers.
A lthough the reports of these establishments pro­
vide some insights into the workings of flexitime,
general conclusions m ust await more rigorous stud­
ies based on more extensive experience. N ot every
environm ent offers the same prospect off success; in
fact, a few establishments have abandoned flexitime
as unworkable. Moreover, evaluations by labor offi­
cials in these same establishments m ight provide
additional perspective. F or example, where m anage­
m ent sees a reduction in overtime, labor officials
may see a decrease in earnings and an increase in
the intensity of w ork .2
Nonetheless, the generally positive results re­
ported for these three establishments seem to be
fairly typical of the wider experience with flexitime.3
A ttendance tends to improve as tardiness is virtu­
ally eliminated and absence is reduced; productivity
increases are reported far more often than de­

Scheduling. Since the total work force is available
only during core time, problems of scheduling are
inherent in flexitime and can affect communication,
supervision and workflow. Placing limits on flexi­
bility is usually the solution. If necessary, flexible
bands can be made very narrow and core time, sub­
stantial. W orkers may be required to select a sched­
ule for a specified period of time or to coordinate
their schedule with others, and clear any deviations
with supervisors or co-workers. Beginning and end­
ing hours may be a m atter of group rather than in­
dividual decision, and, as a last resort, some work­
ers may be excluded altogether from participation.
Adequate comm unication within the work unit
and with suppliers and clients m ust be m aintained.
Some adjustm ents can be m ade to accom modate
flexitime. Staff meetings, for example, usually are
scheduled for core time. But wherever necessary,
flexitime makes the accom m odation, generally of a
type described above. Certain establishments, in­
cluding one reporting here, have turned a potential
problem into an advantage. For example, keeping
comm unication to a minimum during the flexible
periods (quiet hours) seems to have good results. In
some cases, establishments that operate in more
than one time zone use flexitime to extend hours of
comm unication with branch offices.
Sufficient supervision during the flexible bands
can be assured by limiting flexibility. In some in­
stances supervisors coordinate their schedules with
other supervisors. Some have found it possible to
give advance instructions during core time or to
delegate more responsibility. Employees on flexible
hours, for their part, seem to be willing to assume
m ore responsibility for their own work and that of
their group. In practice, supervision usually pre­
sents a less serious problem than anticipated.

U ninterrupted workflow as a problem varies with
the extent to which a worker functions independently and also with the num ber of workers who
perform or are able to perform the same duties. The
constraints on flexitime for an employee performing
independent research are obviously less than for
one who provides services or for a worker on an as­
sembly line. If the num ber of workers is large, ran­
dom variations in schedule preferences will mitigate
problems of workflow. Job enlargement or job ro­
tation often has proven the most straight-forward
and successful m ethod of broadening the applicabil­
ity of flexitime.4
Scheduling problems generally are responsible for
excluding security, cafeteria, and elevator personnel
from participation in flexitime systems. M any pro­
duction jobs cannot be successfully scheduled un­
der flexitime, particularly those in operations in­
volving continuous processing, multiple shifts, or
assembly lines. Modified flexitime systems have
proven successful, however, in some shift situations
and even on assembly lines where the components
are small enough that sufficient stockpiles of parts
and m aterials can be established between work sta­
Costs. Since flexitime keeps a building open longer
hours to accom modate those who wish to start
work earlier or finish later, some increased costs for
heating, cooling, lighting, and for cafeteria, eleva­
tor, and other services m ight be expected. Increased
costs also may be incurred in connection with re­
cording the hours of work accumulated. However,
actual increases usually are small (consistent with
the experience of the government agency reporting
here) and generally m ore than offset by gains such
as lower overtime costs and improved utilization of
building and equipment.
A lthough the effect of flexitime on national en­
ergy usage is a consideration, any increase in usage
in the establishment may be offset by economies in
com m uter transportation.
Wage and hour laws. The finding that the m ost flex­
ible systems yield the best results leads supporters
of flexitime to view laws and collective bargaining
agreements that curtail the possibility of working
longer and shorter days and weeks as an obstacle.
Initiatives to amend Federal legislation on over­
time hours and premium pay in order to enlarge the
degree of freedom feasible under flexitime began in
1975. An A dm inistration-sponsored bill was intro­
duced in the 94th Congress to test a limited num ber
of new flexitime models in the Federal Govern­
m ent.5 This bill would have modified overtime pro­

visions of the Federal Pay Act and the Fair Labor
Standards Act to permit flexitime employees to
work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week
as a m atter of personal preference, without the gov­
ernm ent incurring a liability for payment of a pre­
mium wage. The bill passed the House, but failed
to get Senate action. Its sponsors plan to resubm it
it in the 95th Congress.
The General Accounting Office, in a report to
Congress,6 recommended that in connection with
legislative proposals to amend the C ontract W ork
H ours and Safety Standards Act and the WalshHealey Act, consideration be given to perm itting
flexitime employees to exceed 8 hours work per day
and 40 hours per week for their own convenience,
without obligating their employer to pay overtime
premiums. The report also recommended that the
Fair Labor Standards Act be amended to perm it
flexitime employees of Federal contractors (and in
the longrun, all flexitime employees) to work m ore
than 40 hours a week of their own choice, w ithout
receiving premium pay. No congressional action
was taken on these recommendations.
Labor officials generally opposed proposals to
amend present laws on premium pay and overtime,
prim arily on the grounds that workers would be
deprived of protection against excessive hours of
work and loss of premium pay.7
Issues off flexitime
Flexitime raises some fundam ental and rather
complicated issues. A critical issue, reflected in the
attitude of m ost labor officials, is whether the rights
of workers in regard to overtime and shift differen­
tials can be protected under flexitime. Can m anage­
m ent-ordered overtime be clearly distinguished
from the longer hours that an employee works for
personal convenience? Or will employees be di­
rected, or pressured, to “volunteer” for a longer
day or week so that peak loads can be handled at
regular wage rates?
The arrival and departure of workers at various
times within the flexible bands itself makes enforce­
m ent of wage and hour laws more difficult. It will
be even more difficult if current laws are amended
to permit longer and shorter days or weeks. On the
other hand, the potential benefits seem sufficient to
encourage legislative efforts to make greater flexi­
bility feasible as long as such efforts continue to
protect the basic interests of workers.
A second issue is whether flexitime will add to
the oversupply of labor, either by enabling more
persons to enter the labor force or by increasing the
likelihood that persons now employed will use flexi­
ble hours to take a second job. Flexible work

schedules are considered a critical step toward
equal employment opportunity for women and oth­
ers who find it difficult to work rigid schedules. At
the same time, studies of multiple jobholding indi­
cate that workers on non-standard work schedules
are more likely than others to hold more than one
jo b .8 M ultiple job holding is of particular concern
in periods of persistent unemployment.
An issue that may arise if anticipated gains for
employers materialize is whether such gains (for ex­
ample, a reduction in overtime payments) should be
shared with workers so that they can obtain a m on­
etary benefit for improved attendance and higher
productivity. A division of any productivity gains
could be im portant in gaining the acceptance of
flexitime by organized labor.
There are still other issues. One arises from the
greater ease in applying flexitime to office as op­
posed to production jobs. Will flexitime, while nar­
rowing the distinction between managerial and pro­
fessional workers (who already have some control
over their hours of work) on the one hand, and cler­

ical workers on the other, widen the gap between
the white-collar and the blue-collar group?
A nother issue pertains to responsibility for
scheduling work. Scheduling, once considered m an­
agem ent’s sole prerogative, has become an area for
collective bargaining. Flexitime takes it one step
further, giving individual workers a voice in deter­
mining their hours of work. Concern has been ex­
pressed by m anagement that flexible hours are a
further encroachment on their prerogatives. H ow­
ever, it should be noted in this context, first, that
only limited options are offered to workers and,
second, that the concept of a m anager’s function is
changing, with increasing emphasis on delegation
and worker participation.
Exceptions to “fixed” schedules abound in many
places of work. A compelling issue is whether they
should be acknowledged and systematized.
In summary, flexitime has proven advantages. It
also presents problems that m ust be worked out if
its potential gains are to be realized, and issues that
m ust be resolved if rights are to be protected.

1See Janice N. Hedges, “New patterns for working time,” Monthly
Labor Review, February 1973, pp. 3-8 and “How many days make a
workweek?”, Monthly Labor Review, April 1975, pp. 29-36.

6 See report to the Congress by the Comptroller General of the
United States, Contractors’ Use o f Altered Work Schedules for their Em­
ployees—How is it Working?April 7, 1976.

2 See John D. Owen, “Flexitime: Some problems and solutions,”
Industrial and Labor Relations Review, January 1977, pp. 152-60.

7 Alternate Work Schedules and Part-time Career Opportunities in the
Federal Government, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Manpower
and Civil Service of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service,
House of Representatives, Ninety-Fourth Congress, First Session on
H.R. 6350, H.R. 9043, H.R. 3925, and S. 792. Sept. 29-30, Oct. 7,
1975; Changing Patterns o f Work in America, 1975, Hearings before the
Subcommittee on Employment, Poverty, and Migratory Labor of the
Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, United States Senate, Nine­
ty-Fourth Congress, Second Session on Examination of Alternative
Working Hours and Arrangements, April 7 and 8, 1976; and Contrac­
tor’s Use of Altered Work Schedules.

3 See, for example, Virginia Eider Martin, Hours o f Work When
Workers can Choose (Research Project of the Business and Professional
Women’s Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1975), p. 12; Alvar O. Elbing, Herman Gadon, and John R. M. Gordon, “Flexible Working
Hours: It’s about Time,” Harvard Business Review, January-February
1974, pp. 1-6; and J. Carroll Swart, “What Time Shall I go to Work
Today?” Business Horizons, October 1974, pp. 19-26.
4 John D. Owen, “Flexitime.”
5 See H.R. 9043, Federal Employees’ Flexible and Compressed Work
Schedules Act of 1975. (Another bill, H.R. 6350, had similar provi­


8 Kopp Michelotti, “Multiple jobholding in May 1972 and 1973,”
Monthly Labor Review, May 1974, pp. 65-69.

Drug company workers
like new schedules

R o b e r t T . G o l e m b ie w s k i

R i c h a r d J. H i l l e s

ployees (those covered by the Federal WalshHealey Act) may work as few as 5 hours a day, but
they can work no m ore than 8 hours unless they
receive supervisory approval for overtime pay. Ex­
em pt employees (those not covered by the W alshHealey Act) may work as few as 5 or as m any as 11
hours a day.

Can flexitime work in a large, diversified corpora­
tion? This is a report on a m ajor pharm aceutical
com pany’s first 6 m onths of experience with a flexi­
ble work hours program . The company, SmithKline
Corp., has an extensive product line and is involved
in the full range of activities from research and de­
velopment through m arketing.
The flexible work hours policy perm itted many
variations on the elemental theme that employees
exercise control over when they begin and stop
work each day. Top m anagement defines a maxi­
mum condition which various operating units may
exploit fully or not at all, depending upon their
choice and the demands of work. Basically, an em­
ployee may start work any time between 7 and 9:15
a.m., and can stop work between 3 and 6 p.m. of a
5-day workweek. These are the flexible work hours.
The mimimum that an employee may work is 5
hours in any 1 day. All employees are required to
be present for the 5 hours between 9:15 a.m. to 3
p.m. (excluding 45 minutes for lunch), called the
“core” hours. Norm al hours of work in the firm
vary from 35 to 40 hours per week, depending on
the policy of specific units.
Two classes of employees—nonexempt and ex­
em pt— participate in the program. Nonexem pt em-

Four approaches
Such factors, when combined with the different
lengths of normal workweeks, create substantial
differences in the way various groups of employees
can use flexitime. Four program s— ranging from
least flexible to m ost—illustrate the different flexi­
bility possible for various groups of exempt and
nonexem pt employees:
o In the mailroom, all nonexempt employees work
a regular 40-hour week. Consequently, their start­
ing time determines their quitting time.
© M anufacturing office employees are, in the
main, nonexempt and work 7-3/4 hours per day.
Therefore, they can work only an additional 15
m inutes per day before getting into overtime. Em ­
ployees can determine when they will begin work in
the interval 7 to 9:15 a.m., but they can bank only
15 m inutes per day to shorten one or m ore of the
workdays in the same week.
q Nonexem pt employees in the custom er service
unit work a 7-hour day, and can bank up to an
hour a day to shorten other workdays in the same

Robert T. Golembiewski is Research Professor at the University of
Georgia. Richard J. Hilles is Compensation Manager, SmithKline

From the Review of February 1977


programs and those employees not covered (secu­
rity, field sales, and manufacturing-production).
Altitudinal data were collected from a sample of
183 supervisors and 274 employees in 16 of the 23
work areas. A fifth of the employees under flexible
work hour programs were surveyed.
The seven work areas not surveyed had about 12
percent of the workers. The questionnaire survey
was voluntary, and seven of the area representatives
declined to participate. Area representatives who
did not participate averaged 35 employees each,
with a low of 10 and a high of 100; they claimed to
know the attitudes of those employees toward flexi­
ble work hours, and felt a survey was redundant
and a waste of time. On the other hand, the 16 par­
ticipating area representatives were responsible for
an average of 120 employees each and, therefore,
felt less confident in assessing reactions to the pro­
Area representatives did not follow any single
pattern in polling nonsupervisory workers; they
were urged to generate approximately a 10-percent
sample of nonsupervisory workers, but several had
areas with large differences in skills and wage rates,
and therefore, sampled more extensively. Random
methods of selecting individual respondents were
recommended, but in some cases job demands and
availability of specific individuals made random se­
lection impossible.
Area representatives were urged to get as many
responses as possible from supervisory employees,
because the expectation was that supervisors would
be especially sensitive to problems with the flexible
work hour programs. About 30 percent of all su­
pervisors were surveyed.

week. All employees must provide supervisors with
advance notice of their arrival and departure times
so that customer coverage can continue without in­
© Employees in other areas of the firm—research
and development, marketing (excluding field sales),
corporate personnel, and so on—work a 7-hour
day. Exempt employees can bank as many as 4
hours a day; and noeexempt employees can bank 1
hour per day. Employees must use their banked
hours in the week they are accumulated. All em­
ployees can determine when they will begin and fin­
ish work on specific days as long as they respect the
“core” hours, although supervisors can require ex­
ceptions as needed.
The flexible work hours program involves 2,150
employees; however, nearly 40 percent are covered
by Federal wage-and-hour laws and cannot take
maximum advantage of the flexible work hours.
One unit (manufacturing-production) with 650 em­
ployees was offered the opportunity to develop a
suitable flexible work hours program, but decided
against it. Two other groups of employees—the
field sales force and security—did not participate in
flexible work hours. The former already had sub­
stantial control over their hours of work; and the
latter had to keep to rigidly fixed schedules due to
the nature of the work.
The introduction of flexible work hours in the
firm was broadly experimental and participative.
Managers assisted the personnel representative in
developing a pilot application. Prior to the start of
the experiment, managers also approved the way
success or failure was to be measured.1
Following the successful pilot study, top manage­
ment authorized—but did not require—subordinate
managers to develop some flexitime variant suitable
to their own organization units and employees, with
the help of corporate personnel. Appropriate man­
agers appointed 23 work-hour area representatives
to work with personnel in developing individual
programs and evaluating their success or failure.
Six months after the local variants were begun, re­
sults were assessed and reported in the aggregate to
top management. Each of the 23 area representa­
tives received data concerning his or her own sub­
workforce for futher dissemination to involved
managers and employees.

Nonsupervisory workers9evaluation. The reactions of
nonsupervisors were strongly positive. Their favor­
able reaction is especially noteworthy because the
1,400 nonsupervisory employees in the 16 work ar­
eas participating in this study included 875 nonex­
empt employees who were limited in their ability to
use flexible work hours. When asked to describe
their reaction if the firm was to return to the previ­
ous fixed hours policy, 83 percent opposed a return
to fixed hours, while only 6 percent were in favor of
doing so.
There was a variety of reasons for the strong
preference to retain flexible work hours. (See table
1.) Generally, the benefits to most employees were
seen as considerable, as in reduced traffic conges­
tion and ability to attend to personal business. The
costs were not seen as great. About 11 percent of
the respondents saw others as less available when
needed; and the same proportion -also saw the avail­
ability of support services as Gaving been adversely

Evaluation was based on the attitudes of both
supervisors and employees about their work and
the worksite, as well as on data about absenteeism
and overtime. No control or comparison group was
used because there were major perceived differences
between the population under flexible work hour


are determined by m any diverse factors.
Two stratified, random samples of 50 exempt and
50 nonexempt employees were draw n to test for ab­
senteeism effects, com paring a 5-month period in
the year before flexitime with the same period in the
year following its im plem entation. The samples
were stratified to reflect proportions of the several
job classes of involved employees, with random
choices of individuals filling each share of the 100
cases. Only paid sick days of exempt and hourlypaid employees were considered. D uring the 1974
period, 191 total sick days, of which 78 were single­
day absences, were recorded. D uring the 1975 pe­
riod, the employees’ total sick days increased to 235
days but only 67 were single-day absences. This im­
plies that the flexible work hour program s had the
intended effect. The expected decrease in single-day
sick absences did occur, a decrease that is particu­
larly notable since total sick days increased sub­

affected by flexible work hours. Only a few employ­
ees reported a negative effect on their productivity
or job performance. In fact, on a separate question­
naire item, 43 percent of the respondents indicated
that flexible work hours improve their productivity,
while only 2 percent perceived a reduction.
Supervisory workers' evaluation. The 183 supervisors
responding provided reactions as individual em­
ployees and as supervisors. The latter are consid­
ered an im portant indicator because flexible work
hours m ight so complicate the task of supervisors
th at advantages experienced by employees would be
offset by disadvantages for the supervisors.
Supervisors as employees were about as positive
about flexible work hours as nonsupervisory wor­
kers— 81 percent opposed a return to fixed hours,
while 9 percent favored it, for example. Their atti­
tudes were as favorable as those of nonsupervisory
workers shown in table 1.
Supervisors in their managerial role also re­
sponded favorably to flexible work hours, but less
uniformly in some respects. Twelve percent saw
their flexibilty in scheduling as having been reduced
somewhat; 17 percent saw some reduced employee
coverage of work situations; and 18 percent re­
ported having to spend more effort accounting for
employee’s time. These indications do not appear to
be problems: they seem overbalanced by positive
effects. Thus, 85 percent of the supervisors reported
that flexible work hours improve employee morale;
45 percent saw an improvement in overall perform ­
ance; and 32 percent attributed enhanced produc­
tivity to the innovation. The few negative comments
focused on specific work areas where the program s
were not seen as applicable.

Trends in overtime. Flexible work hours also m ight
affect overtime. Some observers have worried that
such flexibility for salaried personnel would only
result in burgeoning overtime costs for hourly
workers. For example, a research scientist might
use flexible hours to finish a long experiment and
sleep late the next day; but his flexible hours m ight
require overtime for lab helpers who are paid by the
hour. It seems safe to conclude that flexible work
hours program s in this firm did not increase over­
time. In fact, comparing the first 5 m onths in 1975
with the same period in 1974, overtime costs were
down m ore than 21 percent. This drop cannot be
credited to the flexible hours program alone; in­
deed, the company was m aking a concerted effort
to minimize overtime. But these program s clearly
did not frustrate m anagem ent efforts to reduce
overtime; and they m ay have encouraged employees
to m ake more efficient use of their m ost productive
work periods.

Trends in absenteeism. One m ajor expected conse­
quence of flexitime is that it will decrease single-day
absenteeism resulting from the need to attend to
personal business or m inor physical complaints.
R ather than come to work late under a fixed-hour
program and risk a reprim and, the employee might
simply call in sick. F le x itim e shnniH have no obvi­
ous im pact on m ulti-day or total absences, which

These results encourage the use of flexible work
hours. A t very little cost, m ajor and favorable atti-

Table 1. B@sp©ns@§ of nomiupervisory ©mp!oy@@$ on eff©ct of flsxibi© workhours
Rem evaluated

it a & s r

Job performance...........................................
Ability to attend personal business...............
Availability of others when needed....................
Availability of support services.......................................
Communication with others regarding w o rk .....................................
Traffic to and from work....................................................



Sm s













U n faver^fe


















ments in the program were made on the basis of
this 6-months evaluation-flexitim e continues as
before, creating somewhat more freedom at work
for little or no additional cost in dollars or effort.

tadin&l shifts occur among both employees and su­
pervisors. For this firm it is clear that flexible work
hours did not increase costs of absenteeism or over­
times and probably decreased them. No adjust­

--------- f o o t n o t e --------1For results of the pilot application, see Robert T. Golembiewsld,
Richard J. Hilles, and Munro Kagmo, “A Longitudinal Study of Some

Flexi-Time Effects,” Journal o f Applied Behaviarml Science, Vol. 10
(December 1974), pp. 503-32.

C ooperation between unions and m anagem ent
The basis for cooperation is laid in the collective agreement
negotiated by unions and management. Such an agreement establishes
standards of equitable work relations and begets confidence that
makes possible continuous cooperation in dealing with other problems
arising out of the day’s work. The union is essentially an agency for
cooperation for service to the union members and to the industry in
which its members are employed.

* *

Partnership implies joint responsibility and decision of matters
involved—in the case of industry, for problems of production. The
workers’ group, to function in such a partnership, must have
organized channels for developing decisions and carrying out under­
takings. The organization must be a voluntary one.
As soon as an agreement is reached between workers and
management, the workers must assume definite responsibility not
only for the terms of the contract, but for maintaining the spirit of
partnership or cooperation. It is fundamental for efficiency in pro­
duction that the spirit and method of teamwork be followed. In
this as well as in developing agreements, there should be joint par­
ticipation through representative groups. The committee that is
responsible for working out production problems should be a dif­
ferent agency from that concerned with grievances.
-----Report o f Proceedings o f the 46th Annual Convention
o f the American Federation o f Labor
(held in Detroit, Michigan, October 4-14, 1926),
pp. 51-52


The problem of job obsolescence:
working it out at River Works

R obert Z ager
current level of 292. M ost m em bers of the two
locals have had technical education beyond high
school, some to the bachelor o f science level. M any
have come through G E ’s apprentice program with
substantial experience in the shop. M anagem ent
regards them as a prim e source o f candidates for
entry-level m anagem ent positions. Since 1960, 73
drafters have been prom oted from the aircraft
engine drafting unit to m anagem ent positions, and
betw een 1967 an d 1972 some 91 planners were
prom oted.
Because o f the high degree o f responsibility,
independent thought, and creativity dem anded by
the work, very few o f these white-collar employees
had im agined th at technological change m ight
transform , or even partially elim inate, their jobs.
The rapid evolution o f the com puter, m ainly in the
form o f tim e-sharing facilities and m inicom puters,
has suddenly m ade the unthinkable real. Starting
with the drudging, routine tasks such as h a n d ­
printed notes, tube draw ings, tracing, repetitive
cross, sections and views, an d the tiresom e calcula­
tions and m inutiae that engineering entails, the
new technology has show n th at a surprising
proportion o f the w ork could be profitably m echa­

Are workers naturally resistant to technological
change? M ore specifically, are white-collar w ork­
ers resistant? A recent experim ent at an engine
plant o f the G eneral Electric Co. does not provide
final answers but it does suggest workers accom ­
m odate themselves to change that appears to
benefit them.
G eneral Electric’s River W orks at Lynn and
Everett, Mass., is one o f the com pany’s oldest
m anufacturing plants, bu t it produces some o f the
m ost advanced engines in the world. The num ber
o f employees fluctuates as m ajor contracts start
and stop. In m id -1977, m ore than 12,000 people
were em ployed there. M ost o f the hourly paid
employees were represented by the International
U nion o f Electrical W orkers, but the weekly paid
drafters and planners opted in 1951 to be repre­
sented by the International F ederation o f Profes­
sional and Technical Engineers (IF P T E ) which
form ed locals 142 (drafters) and 149 (planners).
The drafters, com prising designers, design drafters,
trainees, tracers, technical illustrators, an d illustra­
tors, are concentrated in the Engineering Services
section. Planners, whose work ranges from m eth­
ods, tools, processes, procedures, and m achine­
loading to time and wage standards, are dispersed
through the shops.
M em bership o f local 142 has averaged about
425, its current level. M em bership o f local 149 has
varied betw een a high o f 411, in 1969, and a

Technological changes
The beachhead o f the invasion o f change was
the arrival in 1970 o f a special reproducing

Robert Zager is a vice president o f the Work in America Institute, Inc.

From the Review of July 1978


he sees where parts might interfere and how
op eratin g tem p eratu res m ight alter sizes and
shapes. In seconds, the tube shows him the length
o f a chain of, say, 150 lines and arcs, or the area of
a complex shape to the nearest .001 square inch.
W ith a light pen and the term inal keys, he adds an
elem ent (for example, a rivet or screw), or changes
curves, lines, or distances. Then he brings the
entire object back to scale for appraisal, and, when
satisfied, captures the C R T image on paper either
electrostatically or by m eans o f the com puterdriven plotter. In addition, the com puter data, o f
which the image is the visual expression, are
transm itted on m agnetic tape to an interactive
graphics system for use in tooling, m achining, and
process design.
A lthough fewer technological changes have
come into planning than drafting, m ore planners
are doing work that involves m ajor technological
change, and the effect on individual jo b s is greater.
The key innovations are in the field o f num erical
control o f m achine tools (NC). The N C m achines
have becom e indispensible for fast, low-cost,
repetitive production o f difficult parts. The essence
o f N C is that electronic control replaces direct
hum an control o f the m achine tool.
But each advance creates a new problem . In
o rd er to induce the co m p u ter to w rite N C
instructions, the parts planner m ust be able to
com m unicate w ith it. T he language for this
purpose was called “A P T .” T he hitch was th at it
took a year to learn how to program a whole jo b
by m eans o f APT. M anagem ent set up a voluntary,
but grueling, 22-week form al course, with 4 hours
o f classwork an d 8 hours o f hom ew ork per week,
and a tough final exam ination. All training was
after work and unpaid; the trainee carried on his
regular jo b during the day.
Perhaps 75 percent o f the m em bers o f the
planners local are doing work th at has been
touched by technological change. Some jobs have
undergone m ajor changes. A planner now m ay
spend less than h a lf his time on one of the new
jobs, and the rest o f his time on other work.

m achine, which elim inated the jo b s of several
tracers. T he least skilled classification am ong
drafters, tracers have the task o f going over the
lines o f finished draw ings an d bringing them to a
uniform density, so that they rem ain sharp and
clear under m icrofilm ing. W ith the reproducing
m achine a slow, labor-intensive process is per­
form ed instantly, error-free, and with a m inim um
o f labor.
In 1971, m anagem ent introduced a flat-bed
p lo tter, a huge m achine guided by tape or
m agnetic card, capable o f draw ing lines five times
as precisely as a drafter and at a rate o f up to 500
inches per m inute, and o f lettering at the rate o f 60
three-eighth inch letters per m inute. The plotter
was used to take over the tedious but essential
work o f preparing engineering m aster draw ings
and layouts. In addition, it can scale draw ings up
or down, change their axes, and can be applied to
other functions such as engineering, m an u factu r­
ing, and quality control.
A ircraft turbine engines contain m any airfoils,
whose contours are sm oothly curved. A t G E, the
shapes are generated by com puter program s. As
engine perform ance standards rise, shapes grow
m ore complex and occasionally a com puter p ro ­
gram produces an airfoil with some areas lacking
the requisite sm oothness. A drafter can sm ooth
these portions by hand but doing so negates the
stored com puter data. M anagem ent, therefore,
introduced an autom atic digitizer, which works by
reversing the process. The com puter has ingested a
m athem atical form ula and uses it to plot the points
o f a partly nonsm ooth curve. The digitizer now
sights points on the m anually sm oothed portion o f
the curve, notes their coordinates, and translates
them back into the com puter m em ory, which in
turn instructs the plotter. T hereafter the curve can
be reproduced at will, rotated, and so forth.
N ext cam e a drum -type plotter, less precise but
faster than the flat-bed, draw ing at a rate up to
1,400 inches per m inute and at 144 letters per
m inute.
M ost recently, the com pany has introduced
interactive graphics, a technique widely publicized
and used in the electronics field but not yet widely
used in m echanical fields, particularly in three
dim ensions. In this system, a cathode ray tube
(C R T ) a n d a com puter term inal replace the
drafting board. The designer either creates or
sum m ons to the tube face an image o f the engine
p art that concerns him; he enlarges, reduces,
repositions, or rotates one or more features at will;

The structure of cooperation
The invasion o f change into fields that once
epitom ized jo b security m ight easily have led to
turm oil and resistance. T h at it has not done so is a
tribute to the foresight and flexibility o f both G E
and IFPT E . All these potentially unsettling inno­
vations were introduced swiftly and sm oothly, with
full cooperation—even encouragem ent—from the
locals an d th eir m em bers. M anagem ent h a d

practically a free h an d in researching and develop­
ing ways to increase productivity through techno­
logical change. Em ployees were able to share in
the excitem ent o f each new developm ent, because
m anagem ent and the unions have w orked out an
arrangem ent that takes the worry out o f change.
In this m utually advantageous arrangem ent, the
com pany provided:

over the drudgery, lessened chances for error,
enabled employees to see the results o f their work
sooner, and, by opening up new ranges o f concepts
and m anipulations, im parted a sense o f adventure.
Those who have w orked with the new m ethods
have no hankering to return to the old, though they
keep the old ones polished for use.
The gains do not obscure the possibility that, as
technological change becom es m ore pervasive or
com petition intensifies, displacem ents m ay some
day occur; b u t a web o f m an a g e m e n t/la b o r
a rra n g e m e n ts holds the d an g er dow n to an
acceptable level.
U nion security is threatened less by ju risd ictio n ­
al intrusions than by River W orks’ long-term
decline o f business an d em ploym ent (down by
1,000 in a decade).
Individual security is closely tied to union
security. Planners look to their local to defend
them against jo b encroachm ent, m onitor the
introduction o f technological changes, and police
the em ploym ent adjustm ent sections o f the co n ­
tract, as well as fight for econom ic im provem ents.
The inform ality o f the modus vivendi m akes it all
the m ore n ecessary for the local to rem ain

Early, full com m unication o f proposed chang­
o C onsultation on the possible effects of changes
upon working conditions.
o Reliance on attrition to protect the incum ­
bents of jo b s m ade red u n d an t by technological
o A variety of m anpow er adjustm ent program s
in the event that attrition should ever be
im practical in such a phase out.


In return, the unions assisted by:
o C om m unicating to m em bers a constructive
attitude tow ard technological change in gener­
o C om m unicating with m em bers about p articu ­
lar changes, to avert needless anxiety and
o Suggesting to m anagem ent ways o f increasing
the utility and acceptability o f particular

Communication and consultation
In the contracts o f the two locals, sim ilar letters
o f agreem ent state:

Some provisions appear in the body o f the
contract, some in letters o f agreem ent, some in
inform al w ritings, an d som e in custom and
practice. M utual trust holds the arrangem ent

“. . . the Company will notify the Union prior to the
introduction of technological changes which will have
an effect on the work normally performed by the
employees in the bargaining unit. Thereafter, at the
request of the Union, the Company is prepared to
hold discussions with the Union relating to such
changes insofar as they may have any effect on the
wages, hours, or working conditions in the bargaining

Improvements in job security
D rafters and planners perceive technological
change as having actually increased their jo b
security in a num ber o f ways. T he capabilities o f
these technological changes have attracted new
kinds o f work to the plant. It has helped to keep
River W orks busier than it otherwise would have
been, and it has opened opportunities for prom o­
tion within the bargaining units and also into
m anagem ent.
M any IF P T E m em bers saw the additional
training these new m ethods necessitated to be a
m eans o f m aking their future em ploym ent more
secure. As elsewhere, younger employees were
eager to learn new skills, while some older
employees, especially those nearing retirem ent,
saw no point in discarding old skills for new ones
they would have little time to exercise.
M oreover, technological changes have taken

T he letters represent a m inim al concession to a
1973 union dem and for contract language specifi­
cally providing em ploym ent adjustm ents in the
event o f technological displacem ents. They con­
firm ed w hat had long been the practice at River
W orks. As early as 1968, m anagem ent has taken
pains to let the union know as soon as there were
definite plans to introduce a technological change,
and to give the union a close look at equipm ent as
soon as it cam e on the premises. F rom tim e to
time, m anagem ent also m eets inform ally with the
union to survey the latest technical developm ents
in the field. H ere the locals are able to ask an d get
dependable answ ers to any pertinent question

about change. T heir criticisms and suggestions
receive serious consideration, although m anage­
m ent reserves the right to m ake decisions.
The unions use the inform ation culled from
these meetings to anticipate and defuse potential
causes o f grievance and tell m em bers w hat lies
ahead. They expound the inevitability and the
benefits of technological change m ore effectively
than m anagem ent ever could do. M em bers tend to
listen to the local leaders because they have been
consistently accurate and farsighted about techno­
logical change. The leaders can talk frankly about
benefits o f change because they have a record o f
pointing out the dangers too, while there is still
time to deal with them .
Besides inform ing m em bers about particular
changes,. Local 149 aims to present a balanced
view o f technological change in general, using such
m edia as its m onthly news bulletin, newsletters,
and m ajor reports. All the writings reflect m uch
field investigation, study, and thought. T heir
message runs along the following lines:











C om puter-aided drafting and planning are
here to stay and their im pact on workers will
Technology is developing so fast that IF P T E
m ust start thinking at once about the conse­
O lder w orkers will feel the im pact m ost.
A lthough they have the strongest hold on
em ploym ent, they are least am enable to
change and have the least hope of finding
traditional jo b s elsewhere. To m anagem ent,
they represent an unattractive investm ent for
IF P T E m em bers’ greatest dangers lie in thier
own com placency and unwillingness to face
D rafters and planners m ust learn to think of
new technology as new tools for doing the job.
A djustm ent to technological change is as vital
as econom ic issues. There is little point in
negotiating wage-benefit increases for jo b s
that are about to go out of existence.
The true question before drafters and planners
is not, Will we be affected? but. W ho will get
the new jobs?
A key problem for drafters and planners
(though not at River W orks) is that they do
not see new equipm ent until it is already in
operation and beginning to cause displace­
ments. Even w ithout filing a grievance, they
have a statutory right to know how m anage­
m ent plans to use new equipm ent that may
affect them.

Since new techniques cannot be stopped, “ . .
. our most appropriate course of action should
be to take a positive stance and encourage its
im plem entation in return for guarantees that
will help stabilize our bargaining units and
protect our m em bers.”
All IF P T E locals should coordinate efforts
and press for em ploym ent adjustm ent provi­
sions in contracts.


How have technological changes affected the
num ber of drafting and planning jo b s at River
W orks? Favorably, on the whole. They have been
instrum ental in bringing new business but they
have m ade a few jo b s redundant. U p to now, the
objective o f the changes has been faster, better,
more accurate work. R eductions in em ploym ent
have been a byproduct, touching certain drafting
jo b s but not the overall num ber o f drafters
employed. However, as the com puter data-base
becomes more com plete, redundancies m ay occur
faster than n ew jo b s open up.
All jobs elim inated by technological change
have been phased o u t w ithout harm to the
incum bents. For exam ple, the reproducing m a­
chine m ade half a dozen tracers’ jobs redundant,
but the tracers were kept at work until they could
fill vacancies at the next higher level—drafters.
Those prom oted were not replaced. M anagem ent
has pursued this policy voluntarily. T here is no
com m itm ent, w ritten or oral, to use attritio n as a
rem edy for all technological change redundancies,
although clearly the policy allays anxiety and
fosters cooperation.
Resort to attrition has been eased by the age
distribution and other characteristics o f the two
bargaining units. Local 149 reported in a 1972
news bulletin that 103 o f 299 m em bers would
reach m an d a to ry retirem en t age 65, and an
additional 78 would reach optional retirem ent age
60, before the end o f 1982. “T aking into consider­
ation quits an d deaths, the figure ju m p s to
approxim ately 7 out o f every 10 planners” who
would leave by attrition betw een 1972 and 1982.
And even this calculation om its planners leaving
River W orks by prom otion or transfer to other G E
plants. Such hard facts leave room for attrition not
only in technological change redundancies b u t also
in economic reductions in force.
Effective tripartition
Since 1970, G E ’s River W orks has introduced
one m ajor technological advance after another into
the work o f drafters and planners, with active

dem onstrates that em ployees are as rational as
employers, and not m erely accept bu t actively
encourage the introduction o f technological ch an g ­
es when they believe the changes will benefit them .
So much for the hobgoblin o f “innate resistance to

cooperation from unions and employees. This
accom plishm ent rests on a structure of relations by
which m anagem ent has virtually a free hand in the
field o f technological change, the unions have a
respectable role to play, and the employees feel
secure against displacem ent. The case clearly

Tine G overnm ent’s role
In June of this year, at a nearby residential conference center, we
assembled more than 40 of the country’s foremost authorities on in­
dustrial relations to review the current and future status of labormanagement cooperation. . . . We examined together many of the
impediments to the wider adoption of cooperative practices and we
received some excellent suggestions as to the kinds of strategies that
might best cope with them.
Particularly instructive to us were the recommendations that were
advanced regarding the appropriate role for the Federal Government,
and especially the Department of Labor, to play in facilitating pro­
gress in this area. Among them were widely agreed upon proposals
that we undertake the following actions:
o Create an information exchange that makes readily available to
all who request it data on current and emerging industrial relations
isssues, collective bargaining developments, recent experiences with
various kinds of cooperative programs, and sources of technical
assistance throughout the country;
q Conduct and support research designed to fill the many
knowledge gaps that already have been identified in this fastdeveloping area of labor-management cooperation;
0 Organize and sponsor, alone and in conjunction with other
organizations, national and regional conferences to promote the
widest possible dissemination of information about new concepts and
programs among practitioners, third-party consultants and re­
searchers, and government officials;
Develop and lend support to the development of training pro­
grams and materials which can enhance the capability of union and
management officials to design and administer their own cooperative
Undertake to become a model employer and demonstrate to
management and labor alike what can be achieved by expanding op­
portunities for employee participation in workplace decisions.

----- Raymond J. D onovan , Secretary of Labor
From remarks at the National Labor-Management Conference,
Washington, D.C., September 9, 1982


Union-management committees
in the Federal sector

J a m e s E. M a r t in
ings discussed herein are not limited to productivity
The operation off joint union-m anagem ent meet­
ings and committees in six Federal organizations
was examined as part of an exploratory multiplecase study. All six organizations were located in a
large M idwestern city and consisted of three Veter­
ans A dm inistration facilities and three from the De­
partm ent of Defense. Below are some characteris­
tics of the organizations studied:

D ata from the m ost recent surveys of the Bureau of
Labor Statistics show that the greatest use of joint
union-m anagem ent committees appears in the Federal sector, where they are provided for in 44 per­
cent of a representative sample of negotiated
agreem ents.1 In contrast, in the municipal sector,
joint committees are provided for in 19 percent of
the negotiated agreements in cities with a popula­
tion of 250,000 or m ore,2 and in the private sector,
less than 5 percent of the negotiated agreements
covering 1,000 workers or more called for their
Despite the greater prevalence off joint com m it­
tees in the Federal sector, H arry Douty, in a report
on labor-m anagem ent productivity committees for
the N ational Commission on Productivity and the
Quality of W orking Life, concluded, “ Little appears
to be known as yet about the performance of these
joint labor-m anagem ent committees in the Federal
service. . . .”4
This paper discusses the functioning off joint un­
ion-m anagem ent committees in the Federal Gov­
ernm ent. It should be noted that the scope off the
committees in this study differs from m ost previous
work on joint labor-managem ent committees, in­
cluding studies off the Bureau of Labor Statistics
which focus on productivity committees. The meet-

Number of employees ..
Average grade level ......
Percent blue-collar
workers ..................
Percent male ...... .......
Percent black ..............





575 1,200 2,500






In each organization the union-m anagem ent agree­
m ent, the minutes off the joint meetings, and the
general labor relations files were analyzed. In addi­
tion, 63 interviews focusing on the unionm anagement interactions, activities, and sentiments
were held with union and m anagement personnel
m ost responsible for the functioning off the relation­

Operation m egiei organization
A t Organization A, there was little inform ation
exchange or problem solving in the joint unionm anagem ent meeting. The meetings were reported

James E. Martin is assistant professor of Management and Organiza­
tion Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich.

From the Review of October 1976



to have become rather heated occasionally, and
broke up prem aturely at least twice. However, both
union and m anagement stated that the joint meet­
ings served to keep the lines of communication
open between the parties by forcing them to come
together to try to understand each other’s prob­
A t Organization B, there was a little more infor­
m ation exchange and problem solving than at O r­
ganization A. In the beginning, both parties felt the
meetings were turbulent, but after changes in union
and m anagement leaderships, meetings were gener­
ally calm and rational. Both union and manage­
m ent felt that the meetings kept the lines of com­
m unication open.
Organizations C and F (veterans’ hospitals) used
the meetings for inform ation exchange and problem
solving. In 1971, the administrative units of the
hospitals were combined and the meetings were
also combined. The problem solving did not take
place in the meetings but rather as a result of them.
Both parties felt the meetings were useful and
served as an im portant vehicle for communication.
Occasionally, at Organization F (where manage­
m ent was headquartered) meetings dealing with
specific problems were held with division managers.
A t these four organizations, labor relations con­
cerns and organizational concerns were generally
equally discussed in the meetings. Labor relations
concerns were such items as planning for contract
negotiations, updating the steward lists, and griev­
ance handling procedures. Organizational concerns
discussed included suggestions for improving pro­
duction and saving work hours and general work­
ing conditions at the organizations.
A t Organization D, there were two separate joint
meetings, one with the comm anding officer and one
without. Both meetings resulted in considerable ex­
change of information and some problem solving.
Union and m anagement agreed that the items dis­
cussed in these meetings were instrum ental in help­
ing the union-m anagem ent relationship achieve its
objectives. These meetings appeared to be more
heavily weighted by organizational concerns than
labor relations concerns.
Organization E, the largest organization, did not
have a regularly scheduled m onthly unionm anagem ent meeting. Such meetings had been re­
placed by ad hoc meetings in 1971, and the parties
felt that because they m et so frequently in ad hoc
meetings, there was no need for a regularly sched­
uled meeting. M any different topics consisting al­
m ost entirely of organizational concerns were dis­
cussed. Overall, the parties felt that the ad hoc
meetings helped keep the lines of communication

open and reduced the level of problems in the un­
ion-management relationship. Regular m onthly
joint meetings dealing solely with divisional con­
cerns were held in some of the divisions, and were
felt to be effective.
Organization E had a joint committee, negotiated
into the first agreement effective June 1969, with
specific authority to seek solutions. The agreement
stated the committee was to meet at least once ev­
ery 3 months. However, little was accomplished un­
til m ajor leadership changes in union and m anage­
m ent in July 1971, after which the committee began
to meet m ore frequently and deal m ore completely
with its assignments. A t the time of the research the
committee was meeting biweekly. Respondents felt
that both employees and m anagement had a very
great respect for the reports and recommendations
of the joint committee. The topics were exclusively
organizational concerns.
All unions sent their president, and at least one
and sometimes up to three other officers, occasion­
ally on a rotating basis, to the joint meetings. Rep­
resenting management, the labor-m anagem ent rela­
tions officer or the highest ranking personnel officer
attended meetings at every organization, except
one; three organizations included the commanding
officer or the director of the facility at their m eet­
ings. Depending on the particular subjects to be
discussed, national union representatives, additional
personnel staff, or line m anagers attended the m eet­

General findings
Joint union-m anagem ent meetings varied directly
with the size of the organization— the larger the or­
ganization (in terms of the num ber of employees),
the more the meetings were used for information
exchange or problem solving, or both. The more
the joint meetings were used for inform ation ex­
change and problem solving, the lower was the fre­
quency of union-m anagem ent problems. Greater
use of the personnel and labor relations staff in
handling relations with the union and more good
faith in the carrying out of consultations were also
related to greater use of the joint meetings. A l­
though these exploratory findings are tentative,
they do suggest that the use of joint meetings was
related to problem resolution and to the way the
union and m anagement interacted, as exemplified
by their use of consultation and labor relations
A joint committee, having as its m ajor goal over­
all organizational objectives, functioned at all six
sites. However, only five of the labor agreements
established a general purpose joint meeting. The

found to suggest that any of the joint committees
were established because of a crisis.
Where the Bureau study found some success in
industrial relations m atters, the joint committees it
studied dealt with m atters similar to those in the
current study and did not deal exclusively with pro­
ductivity m atters.
A second im portant observation of the Bureau
was the crucial role of the union and m anagement
leadership support in determining the usefulness of
the meetings. In the current study, leadership
changes were able to increase the effectiveness of
the joint meetings in individual organizations.
Am ong the six organizations, differences in the be­
havior of the leadership and their attitudes toward
the joint meetings varied and appeared related to
their effectiveness.
The Bureau also found that good laborm anagement relations were im portant in determ in­
ing the function and scope of the committee when
the committee is initiated. Some support for that
finding also came from the current study. A t the
two smallest organizations, the parties felt there
was a lack of good union-m anagem ent relations
and that the joint meetings were limited to keeping
the lines of comm unication from closing and pre­
venting labor relations from getting worse. Where
relations were better or where they had improved,
the meetings performed more tasks and were more
O ur findings indicate th at at all six organizations
the meetings contributed benefits. These benefits
varied considerably among organizations, from
helping to keep the channels of comm unication
from closing accompanied with a little information
exchange and alm ost no problem solving, to being a
m ajor problem-solving and information-exchange
vehicle of the union-m anagem ent relationship. In
the more effective instances, the joint meetings
served as an aid in reducing the areas of conflict be­
tween the parties. Specific productivity concerns
were not discussed, even though benefits from the
meetings, such as decreased time spent on labor re­
lations m atters and an improved labor relations cli­
mate, indirectly helped productivity.

oldest joint meeting had been established prior to
the union's having been granted exclusive recogni­
tion. Three joint meetings started when the union
received recognition. The two newest meetings were
only begun when the first labor agreement was im­
plemented. Thus, in four out of the six instances,
joint meetings had functioned or were functioning
without having been incorporated into the labor
In this research, an effective meeting in terms of
producing results was one which led to information
exchange and problem solving on m atters of m utual
concern. Where the meetings served partially as a
starting point in information exchange and problem
solving, as at the four largest organizations, they
were m ore effective. Concerns raised at those m eet­
ings and not resolved were examined and often an­
swered by the parties before the next meetings.
Leadership attitudes concerning the joint meetings
also appeared im portant in determining effective­
ness. W here union and m anagement leaders viewed
the joint meetings m ore favorably, they were used
m ore effectively.
W here the joint meetings utilized specific solu­
tion-seeking authority, increased effectiveness was
apparent. In addition, the organizations whose
meetings dealt prim arily with organizational con­
cerns, as opposed to labor relations concern’s, had
m ore effective meetings than those organizations
where labor relations and organizational concerns
appeared equally. In no organization did the joint
meetings deal directly with productivity concerns.
However, at the four largest organizations, in­
creases in productivity resulted from the time saved
in the resolution of problems and by resolving some
problem s before they became m ajor issues.

Comparisons with private sector
It is useful to com pare the findings of the current
study to the general observations of a Bureau of La­
bor Statistics report on six cases of joint com m it­
tees in the private sector. 5 All of the functioning
committees in that report arose out of a crisis situa­
tion, whereas in the current study, no evidence was

FOOTNOTESCommittee on Productivity and Work Quality, May 1975), pp. 50-52.
(It should be noted that the Center assumed its new name at the end of
1975.) Douty notes that because the BLS study omitted agreements
from the railroad and airline industries, units with less than 1,000
workers, plants with a Scanlon-type plan, and nonunion plants, the
percentage of private sector joint committees may be somewhat greater
than found in the BLS survey.
4 Douty, Labor-Management Productivity Committees, p. 19.
5 Report on Joint Productivity Committees.

1 Collective Bargaining Agreements in the Federal Service, Late 1971,
Bulletin 1789 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1973), p. 62.
2 Municipal Collective Bargaining Agreements in Large Cities, Bulletin
1759 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1972), p. 14.
3 Report on Joint Productivity Committees to the National Commission
on Productivity and Work Quality (Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpub­
lished, Feb. 20, 1974), cited in Harry Douty, Labor-Management Pro­
ductivity Committees in American Industry (Washington, The National


Labor-management panel seeks
to help laid-off State workers

T o dd

Jic k

The last few years have been a period of declining
resources in many parts of the public sector. Budget
and program cutbacks in New York State have been
particularly severe. As a result, problems of re­
trenchm ent have emerged in a sector characterized
typically by its secure jobs. Turm oil has replaced
stability and the loss of w orkers’ jobs has been one
of the key outcomes. Between April 1971 and D e­
cember 1976, approxim ately 10,000 individuals were
laid off by New York State. Approxim ately 3,000
workers rem ain laid off today, with almost another
1,000 having been rehired at lower grades.
The New York State Continuity of Em ploym ent
(COE) Com m ittee was established to tackle the deli­
cate issues of public sector worker displacement.
Created in April 1976, the Com m ittee emerged out
of a collective bargaining agreement between the
State of New York and the New York State Civil
Service Employees Association. Its membership con­
sists of an equal num ber of union and m anagement
officials, and it is chaired by a neutral party. The
C om m ittee’s mission is to study worker displace­
m ent problems arising from economic or program
cutbacks in State agencies and to facilitate program s
and m ake recom m endations which would minimize
layoffs, or at least minimize the negative effects of

W hat follows is a brief discussion of the proce­
dures used to research the displacem ent problem and
the specific program s and policies recom mended
thus far.
The role of researchers
Once constituted as a form al committee, the m em ­
bers were faced with a dilem m a of how to meet their
m andate. They needed to agree on the scope and
nature of the problem, to generate alternative strate­
gies for dealing with it, and to reach consensus on the
choice of appropriate program s. They sought an­
swers to a variety of research questions relating to
the whereabouts and condition of laid-off State em­
ployees. Thus, the Com m ittee decided to solicit the
assistance of academic researchers to contribute sup­
portive services. Behavioral science researchers were
brought into the project to collect and analyze the
required information.
The research serves a variety of functions. First, it
provides objective evidence to support or refute hy­
potheses and questions generated by the Committee.
F or example, the Com m ittee wanted to know
w hether low staff m orale caused by job insecurity
affected patient care in State hospitals. A literature
review and research design were prepared by the
researchers to help the Com m ittee decide how to
pursue the question. D ata collection would follow if
deemed necessary. This is typical of how the Com ­
m ittee sought to dem onstrate a “hunch” and how the
researchers provided the tools to test it out.

Todd Jick is a research specialist at New York State School of Industrial
and Labor Relations, Cornell University. The title of his full IRRA
paper is “Coping with Job Loss: An Integration of Research, Applica­
tion, and Policy Development.”

From the Review of July 1978


resentative to determ ine m anpow er needs in various
State agencies, identification of suitable trainees from
the list of laid-off individuals, assistance in recruit­
m ent where necessary, and the design, coordination,
and evaluation of the program . Specific program s
have included special recruitm ent of correctional
officers and accompanying training, retraining for
system analysts positions, and helping individuals
find m ore suitable opportunities in the private sector.
The overall direction is that of “employability en­
hancem ent,” th at is, locating available job m arkets
and easing entry through retraining or simple advo­
A second purpose of the support staff is to prevent
problems in the future by m inimizing the barriers to
continuity of employment for State employees. This
essentially represents effective work force planning
characterized by coordination, m atching, and prob­
lem solving. The goal is to develop a tighter m atch
between staffing needs and staffing resources, to im ­
prove the m anpow er planning function so that, for
example, agencies “scaling up ” can easily acquire
employees from agencies who are cutting back.
Thus, it has already been recom m ended th at com pre­
hensive work force planning be developed in the
form of an adm inistrative “hom e” or center for state­
wide planning. The Com m ittee is currently consider­
ing a pilot program to set up a parallel center within
a State departm ent which will be subject to work
force fluctuations.
Accordingly, the action staff has been developing
a num ber of program s and proposals: a skills inven­
tory of laid-off employees, relocation and job search
grants, special grants, civil service announcem ents,
and tests. Together with the retraining, counseling,
and private sector outplacem ent program s, these
represent the tools for a readjustm ent program . Pilot
projects in these areas are currently underw ay and
have begun to be evaluated.

Perhaps m ost im portantly, research has re­
sponded to the interests of the Com m ittee to investi­
gate the im pact of layoffs from a variety of perspec­
tives. W hereas layoffs have traditionally been
considered as an economic phenom enon alone, the
current emphasis has also explored the social and
psychological consequences. The general thrust of
the research has been to examine how layoffs affect
the employee’s physical health, psychological well­
being, and family life, as well as economic stability.
Furtherm ore, the Com m ittee wanted to understand
how to ensure both efficiency and high m orale of
those employees who continued to work in a system
under conditions of perceived job insecurity and a
high degree of personnel movement. Research thus
reflected the dual concern of hum ane and effective
use of the State’s work force. (N ot surprisingly, this
also stru ck 1a balance between the union’s interest to
be a vocal fighter for job security and the State’s
interest to manage efficiently.)
Prelim inary evidence indicates that under the per­
ceived threat of layoff, m any good workers have cho­
sen to voluntarily quit (which results in costly re­
training and a loss in organizational effectiveness).
M oreover, absenteeism associated with low m orale
and perceived insecurities creates significant ineffi­
ciencies in services. The Com m ittee may therefore be
led to conclude that the overall “costs” of layoffs
become higher than the initial savings through per­
sonnel cuts. W hile this is evidently true for the indi­
vidual, various data indicate that this applies to the
imm ediate agency as well.
The CO E Com m ittee is currently in the process of
evaluating some of this cost-benefit research, a kind
of balance sheet, in order to form ulate action-policy
recom mendations.

Mole off action program staff
Action program s have been designed to deliver
direct benefits to displaced employees. Reem ploy­
m ent has been the m ajor objective, facilitated
through a variety of techniques including retraining
opportunities, relocation services, counseling, and
placement program s. There is a full-time coordina­
tor-facilitator of the action program s who works in
close cooperation with the affected agencies, the
Civil Service D epartm ent, the State’s Office of Em ­
ployee Relations, and the Civil Service Employees
The action program staff serves two purposes.
First, staff members engage in advocacy for the dis­
placed employee. They seek out individuals, deter­
mine- their needs, and provide them with assistance.
Com m ittee members help to develop leads to agen­
cies which may have hiring plans. The typical pilot
program involves liaison work by a Com m ittee rep­

Policy recommendations
Prelim inary findings from the research and the
action program s led the Com m ittee to a num ber of
policy recom mendations. F o r example, there was
considerable evidence th at the agencies themselves
could not do m uch to m itigate discontinuities in em­
ployment. Thus, some strategies being evaluated by
the Com m ittee include: (1) use of a project task force
of affected agency representatives to do “h an d s-o n ”
person-by-person planning to find solutions for all
individuals in a target situation (as long as there is
lead time, com m itm ent, and backing from higher
State levels); (2) substantial advance notice of layoff
to provide the lead time necessary to gear up for
hum ane solutions; (3) incentives to agencies which
conduct good planning; (4) improved data m anage­

ment so that each agency maintains timely data for
good human resource planning; and (5) improved
official communication on job security matters to
reduce much unnecessary anxiety fueled by rumors
and inaccuracies.
All the policy recommendations are a result of the
research and direct assistance action programs. It
must be noted, however, that reaching a consensus
on policy proposals is frequently a time-consuming
and controversial process. Frequently, the mixedmotive problem-solving spirit reverts to adversarial

parties’ political concerns. There are also obstacles
which are less a function of internal process but rather
external constraints. For example, the 1-year State
budget cycle inhibits long-range planning by agencies.
Conflicting political interests and stakes between (State)
agencies can deter efforts directed toward sharing
resources and information. These are chronic problems
which impede Committee programs and which influence
Committee decisions.
The COE committee represents a specific strategy
relevant to a New York State problem, but it is an en­
couraging model for all who are trying to find better
solutions to critical industrial relations problems.

positioning. Moreover, the researchers are also subject
to political pressures and they must be sensitive to the

Am experiment!: Labor-mamagememt participation teams
In the past, job-related problems for which the contract provides
no answer have been tackled every three years, in a crisis at­
mosphere, as part of negotiations; and once an overall agreement is
reached, these kinds of “ on-the-job” problems receive no mean­
ingful treatment for another three years.
That system leaves something to be desired from the Union’s
standpoint, and also from management’s standpoint. The right to
strike over local issues, of course, is a vitally important component
of the Experimental National Agreement, and the Union would not
consider any solution which affected that right in any way. Never­
theless, the ability to also tackle job-related issues on a meaningful
basis during the life of the agreement could be a valuable additional
Both sides have an interest in developing a system for meaningful
consideration of job-related issues throughout the life of the agree­
ment. The Union’s interests are in establishing an effective means
of improving the on-the-job conditions most directly affecting our
members. The Companies’ interest is finding a means to improve
output. In an attempt to provide a method by which both sides can
work out effective solutions, and at the same time minimize the
risks of a new approach, the settlement agreement proposes an ex­
perimental program which would authorize the local parties at the
department level to “ discuss, consider and decide upon proposed
means to improve department or unit performance, employee
morale and dignity, and conditions of the work site.” The pro­
posal, described below, is a radical departure from past ef­
forts—primarily because it allows the local parties to explore a full
range of solutions to their problems.
----- Excerpt from summary of United Steelworkers of America—
U.S. Steel Corp. national agreement, April 1980


The perceptions of participants
in a joint productivity program

A nna C. G oldoff
New Y ork C ity’s financial crisis is largely responsi­
ble for its present labor-m anagem ent program . The
program originated in a m em orandum o f interim
understanding signed by the m unicipal unions and
by the city on June 30, 1976. T hat agreem ent
reflected guidelines set by the State Em ergency
Financial C ontrol B oard and the conditions set by
then Secretary o f the T reasury W illiam Simon for
Federal seasonal loans. These conditions specified
that no m unicipal w orkers would get cost-of-living
adjustm ents unless m atched by productivity sav­
ings, which could not be achieved through service
reductions or contract items. Hence, the citywide
Joint L abor-M anagem ent Productivity C om m it­
tee, com posed equally o f representatives from the
City o f N ew Y ork and the M unicipal Labor
Com m ittee, was created in July 1976. Its function
was to guide and approve the work o f the 26
agency subcom m ittees, insuring that individual
agency productivity proposals com plied w ith the
spirit and letter o f the interim agreem ent. These
subcom m ittees are cochaired by union and m an­
agem ent and have an equal num ber o f representa­
tives from both sides. Following is the result o f
personal interviews with 15 agency representatives

and 21 union representatives participating on the
subcom m ittees.1
M ost (72 percent) o f the participants reported
m oderate to strong com m itm ent to the productivi­
ty effort. The m ajority (56 percent) also stated that
they achieved their goals in the initial phase o f the
program . Seventy-eight percent said their goals
were m aking cash savings for cost-of-living adjust­
m ents and 22 percent m entioned other productivi­
ty issues, such as im proving jo b satisfaction or
m anagerial effectiveness. O nly 8 percent felt they
could achieve future productivity goals through the
current program .
Are the benefits o f the program distributed
equitably to b oth sides? Forty-tw o percent said
yes, 44 percent disagreed. O nly 27 percent o f union
respondents felt their role was instrum ental. In
contrast, 67 percent o f the m anagem ent partici­
pants saw their side as having the prim ary role.
A ccording to our respondents, neither side felt
that the program threatened the traditional rights
and privileges o f m anagem ent. Sixty percent o f the
m anagers were satisfied with their rights under the
program , 33 percent were not. M ost o f the union
respondents also felt the program did nothing to
alter m anagem ent’s prerogatives, b u t 75 percent
believed th at the program infringed on collective
bargaining issues. T hirty-three percent o f the
m anagem ent respondents also thought this was
true, but m ost (53 percent) did not. A m ajority o f

Anna C. GoldofF is an assistant professor of government and public
administration at the City University o f New York. David C. Tatge, a
staff associate in public management at the university, assisted in the
preparation of this report.

From the Review of July 1978


the respondents felt that the productivity program
used the same tactics and m aneuvers as the form al
bargaining process.
D o union m em bers feel that the union leader­
ship is co-opted into m anagem ent as a result o f this
program ? M ore than one-half (57 percent) did not
feel this was true, but 38 percent did. However, the
union leaders denied “ switching sides.” R ather,
they felt forced to take on m anagerial roles
because of asserted m anagerial incom petence in
city governm ent. D id the rank and file believe the
union leaders could aggressively pursue wage
increases while being a part o f the productivity
program ? Fifty-seven percent o f union respond­
ents believed that union leaders are ham pered in
pursuing wage increases but a clear m ajority
blam ed the fiscal crisis, n o t the productivity
program . M ost o f the participants (56 percent) felt
that the initial stim ulus for the program has
changed—that is, the im proved econom ic and
political environm ent has dim inished the crisis
atm osphere that produced the Com m ittee. Fortytwo percent disagreed.

This research suggests th at the participants in
New Y ork’s productivity program are com m itted
only to a short-term cash savings program to pay
em ployee cost-of-living ad ju stm en ts. N egative
perceptions o f future goal achievem ent, a dim in­
ishing environm ental stim ulus, an d jurisdictional
am biguity betw een productivity and collective
bargaining issues indicate that a long-term p ro d u c­
tivity program w ould not succeed.
One obstacle is strong union dissatisfaction.
Tw o-thirds o f union respondents believed that the
current program will disband after the agreem ent
expires. In fact, 73 percent o f the labor cochairm en
interview ed agreed th at the program will be
unnecessary when norm al collective bargaining is
resum ed. Because these cochairm en are local
union leaders, their dissatisfaction and lack o f
com m itm ent are definite weaknesses in the current
program . Their negative perceptions will affect
other labor participants in the program , as well as
the union’s rank and file.

-------------- f o o t n o t e -------------1 The sample included 12 o f the 26 participating agencies: Housing
and Development Administration, Human Resources, Personnel,
Environmental Protection, Law, Economic Development, Model

Cities, Parks, Police, Sanitation, Fire, and Corrections. Interviews
with city and union staff experts suggested that these included an even
mix of the most and least effective agency subcommittees.


Employee-owned companies:
is the difference measurable?
Employee ownership may be associated
with better attitudes toward the jo b
and higher productivity and profits ,
according to a recent 98-firm survey
M ichael C onte


A rnold S. T annenbaum

Em ployee ownership can be found throughout the
history o f the U nited States, although com panies
th at are wholly ow ned by employees (including
w orkers) have alw ays been rare. One survey
reported that 389 com panies, in which a large
proportion o f the stock was directly ow ned by
employees, were established in the U nited States
betw een 1791 and 1940.' The num ber o f com pa­
nies with at least som e degree o f em ployee
ownership was pro bably m uch larger, an d there is
evidence that this num ber has grown in recent
Several aspects o f perform ance in a variety o f
em ployee-ow ned com panies are analyzed in this
article. The data em ployed include: the size and
sales volum e o f em ployee-ow ned com panies; the
percent o f em ployees w ho p articip ate in the
ow nership plan; the percent o f equity ow ned by
nonm anagerial as well as m anagerial persons; and
aspects o f control o f the com pany by employees.
Also analyzed are the attitu d es o f m anagers
tow ard the ow nership plan and their judgm ent
about the effect o f the plan on productivity and
profit. A ctual profit data were available for a
subset o f com panies, and the relationship betw een
Michael Conte is assistant study director and Arnold S. Tannenbaum
is program director, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social
Research, The University o f Michigan.

From the Review of July 1978


profit and other characteristics o f these com panies
was studied.
Em ployee ow nership can take two form s: direct,
where employees own shares in the com pany as
w ould o rd in ary shareholders in a jo in t-sto ck
com pany; or “beneficial,” where em ployees ow n
shares through a trust, as illustrated by the
Em ployee Stock O w nership T rust (ESQ T).4 The
Em ployee R etirem ent and Incom e Security A ct o f
1975 stipulates th at the holdings o f an O w nership
T rust m ust be invested “prim arily” in the stock o f
its com pany—unlike the holdings o f the usual
profit-sharing trust, which m ay be diversified, or o f
a pension trust, w hich m ust be diversified.
C ontributions to the T rust are governed by an
Em ployee Stock O w nership P lan (ESOP). D epend­
ing on the plan, contributions m ay be m ade on the
basis o f a profit-sharing principle (whereby some
fixed percentage o f com pany profits is annually
transferred to the Trust), a cost principle (w hereby
a fixed percentage o f labor costs is annually
transferred to the Trust), a fixed contribution
principle (w hereby a fixed dollar am o u n t is
transferred to the Trust), or by other m ethods
determ ined entirely at the discretion o f a single
party or parties. T he central requirem ents, how ­
ever, are that the O w nership T rust invest “prim ari­
ly” in em ployer securities an d that disbursem ents
from the T rust be m ade in em ployer securities.
D ividends th at m ay be declared are not usually

distributed im m ediately to employees but, rather,
are held in trust. N onetheless, the financial well­
being o f the “beneficiaries” o f stock in the T rust is
tied to the success o f the com pany.

Table 2. Percent of total equity owned by workers only,
In S3 companies ________________________________
Percent of companies
Equity owned by workers

Finding who owns what
A list of 148 com panies in the U nited States and
C anada, thought to have some degree o f em ployee
ownership, was com piled.5 A fter conducting tele­
phone interviews, usually with the financial officer,
98 of these com panies actually were found to have
some com ponent o f w orker ownership; 68 firms
had Stock O w nership Plans, and 30 had direct
ownership. Their m edian size was approxim ately
350 employees; 17 percent had fewer than 100
employees and 25 percent had 1,000 or more.
D uring the previous year, alm ost h a lf o f the
com panies had sales o f at least $25 million.
As shown in table 1, employees in about threequarters o f the com panies owned at least h a lf o f
the equity; ow nership o f the entire equity by
employees was m ore likely to occur in stock-plan
than directly owned com panies. This table refers to
the percent o f equity held by all employees,
including m anagers. T able 2, on the other hand,
refers to the percent o f equity owned by the
workers alone, which, o f course, is less than that
owned by all employees.
The m easure o f equity owned by workers in
stock-plan com panies was obtained by m ultiplying
the percent of the com pany’s equity ow ned by the
T rust times the percent o f the T rust’s equity owned
by the workers. Because o f the way records are
kept in most o f the stock-plan com panies, we
found it necessary to rely on the distinction
between salaried and other personnel as the basis
for distinguishing rank-and-file w orkers from
m anagers in these com panies. Furtherm ore, al­
though most of the directly owned com panies
could report the allocation o f ownership betw een
m anagerial and other personnel, only about h alf o f
the stock-plan com panies could report the precise
allocation o f stock w ithin the Ownership Trust. In

Less than 10 percent
Between 10 and 49.9 percent
Between 50 and 99.9 percent
100 percent






Employee-owners have:
Stock-voting rights ..
Representatives on
Board of Directors _
Union representation
Influence on important
decisions other than
through a union. ...

Percent of
Percent of directly Percent of
stock-plan owned
companies companies compar









In general, the data indicate substantial differ­
ences betw een stock-plan an d directly ow ned
com panies in these m easures o f employee influ­
ence over com pany decisions. For example, only
36 percent o f the respondents in com panies with
Stock Ownership Plans report that worker repre­
sentatives sit on the board o f directors; 77 percent
o f the com panies with direct ownership report the
presence o f w orkers on the board. Similarly, 51
percent o f the respondents in com panies with
ow nership plans, com pared to 77 percent in
com panies with direct ownership, indicate that
employees influence “im p o rtan t” decisions in the

NOTE Eleven companies did not provide sufficient percent of equity owned Internally, data to
determine the percent of equity owned internally.


these com panies, 54 percent o f the O w nership
Trust stock, on average, is owned by nonsalaried
employees. This average, then, was used to define
the am ount o f w orker-ow ned stock within the
T rust in each o f the rem aining cases.6 As estim ated,
therefore, w orker-ow ned equity in the rem aining
cases is directly proportional to (that is, 54 percent
times) the percent o f the com pany’s equity in the
T rust itself.
Em ployee owners in the T rust are entitled to
dispose o f their stock at m arket value once it has
been distributed to them . Unlike employees in
directly owned com panies, however, owners in a
T rust generally do not vote their stock. The
following tabulation shows the percent o f com pa­
nies where voting rights an d other em ployee
control m echanism s are reported to be available:

Percent of companies

All companies
(N = 87)

All companies
(N = 83)

NOTE: Fifteen companies did not provide data relevant to the percent of equity owned by workers.

Equity owned by employees
Direct ownership
(N = 27)

Direct ownership
(N = 25)

Less than 3 percent
Between 3 and 9.9 percent
Between 10 and 49.9 percent
Between 50 and 100 percent

Table 1. Percent of total equity owned by employees,
Including managers, in 87 companies

Stock ownership
plan (N = 60)

Stock ownership
plan (N = 58)


com pany. In some o f the com panies, this influence
reportedly extends to such decisions as w hether or
not to m ake m ajor capital acquisitions. The two
types o f com panies do not, however, appear to
differ with respect to w hether or not employees are
unionized. A lthough not specifically m easured,
indications are that directly owned com panies
have significantly fewer unionized em ployees than
do com parable ow nership-plan com panies.

Tab5@ 3. RegressSon coefficients for the predictors of
“ adjusted” and “ unadjusted” profitability


ESOT ( = 0) vs. direct ownership ( = 1)
Percent employees participating in plan
Percent equity owned internally
Percent equity owned by workers
W orker representativeness on board of directors
Employee stockholders vote
Multiple r

-2 2


’ p < .02.
NOTE: The data necessary to calculate the adjusted profitability ratio are unavailable in five
companies of the subset and five companies did not provide information concerning all of the
predictors in this regression. The number of cases in the adjusted and unadjusted cells are therefore
20 and 25 respectively.

Employee ownership and profitability
Profit data were supplied by 30 com panies. The
ratio o f pretax profits to sales was used as a basis
for gauging profitability. Each com pany’s ratio
was then divided by its industry’s 1976 ratio.7 This
weighted ratio was the prim ary m easure o f a
com pany’s pretax profitability. F or five com pa­
nies, how ever, an a d d itio n a l adjustm ent was
necessary. Because these com panies are directly
and wholly ow ned by employees, they distributed
a part o f their “profit” to employees in the form o f
wages. This allocation o f funds has the effect o f
depressing the co n v en tio n al profit statem ent,
although it has the corresponding advantage o f
reducing taxes. These m oneys, however, should be
considered as p art o f the com pany’s profit for
purposes o f com parison with other com panies in
our set. To calculate the am ount o f m oney diverted
from profits to wages in the five com panies, the
average wage differential betw een the worker
owners and nonow ner w orkers was used.8 This
differential in each com pany was added to its
form ally stated profit figure, and this final value
was used for com puting the profitability o f these
five com panies. A lthough this adjustm ent seems
appropriate as a way o f m aintaining com parability
am ong com panies that em ploy different acco u n t­
ing procedures, the unadjusted profit statem ents
also were com pared. This unadjusted value is,
m ost likely, overly conservative; but there m ay be
som e utility in exam ining b oth m easures o f
The average adjusted profit ratio for the 30
com panies was 1.7; the unadjusted ratio was 1.5.
In both cases, these values, which are greater than
1, indicate greater profitability am ong employeeowned com panies than com parable sized com pa­
nies in their respective industries. However, be­
cause the variance in profitability am ong the 30
com panies is relatively large and the num ber o f
cases is sm all, statistical significance is n o t
achieved. It is also possible that the “ sam ple” o f
com panies m ay be select with respect to profitabil­
ity. T he results are suggestive, however, that


em ployee ownership, in one form or another, m ay
be associated with the profitability o f a com pany.9
In table 3, the two indexes o f profitability
(adjusted a n d unadjusted) are predicted using
several aspects o f em ployee ow nership in a
regression analysis. The predictors include: (1) the
form o f em ployee ownership, w hether direct or
through a T rust (O w nership Trust is scored “0” ;
direct ownership is scored “ 1” ); (2) the percent of
employees who participate in the plan; (3) the
percent o f com pany equity owned by employees
(by m anagers and workers); (4) the percent o f
com pany equity ow ned by the workers themselves;
(5) w hether em ployees have representatives on the
board of directors; and (6) w hether em ployee
stockholders have voting rights.
These predictors jointly explain a substantial
am ount of the variance in “adjusted” profitability,
but only one o f the predictors, the am ount o f
equity owned by the w orkers themselves, proves
statistically significant (p less than .02); the m ore
equity the w orkers own, the m ore profitable the
com oanv. other things being equal (beta = 1.02V
T he second variable o f im portance In this
analysis, the am ount o f equity owned internally,
has, if anything, a negative relationship with
profitability (beta = -.31); but the statistical
significance o f this variable is m arginal, at b est—a
coefficient o f this size occurring about one out of
four times by chance. V ariation in “internal
ow nership” in this context is really variation in
ownership by m anagerial personnel, because ow n­
ership by the workers them selves is controlled in
the analysis. T he possible im plication, therefore, is
that increases in the am ount o f equity owned by
m anagers m ay have a negative effect if this
increase is not accom panied by an increase in the
equity owned by the workers. This result is not
strong statistically, but it m ay be w orth consider­
ing as a hypothesis.
The im pact o f the rem aining variables can easily
be attributed to chance, but it is interesting to see
that they, too, imply, if anything, negative relation­

ships in the regression. Direct ownership (rather
than through a Trust), the percent o f employees
who participate in the plan, the existence o f worker
representatives on the board, and the existence of
voting rights show a negative relationship (if
anything) to profitability when the percent o f
equity owned by the workers themselves is con­
Prediction o f the unadjusted profitability index
is not as good as the prediction o f the adjusted
index, the m ultiple correlation being only 0.47, and
none of the predictors m eets the usual criterion o f
significance. The pattern o f results, however, is
sim ilar to that for the analysis o f the adjusted
profitability index; the one predictor that ap ­
proaches a m arginal level o f statistical significance
is the precent of equity ow ned by the workers.
The negative signs associated with several o f the
variables in table 3 do not imply (or they would
not imply, even if they were statistically signifi­
cant) that these characteristics are associated with
low profitability; they imply (or would imply) such
a negative association only under the conditions o f
the regression analysis where, for exam ple, the
am o u n t o f equity ow ned by the w orkers is
controlled statistically. In fact, because com panies
where workers hold a high percent o f the equity
are likely also to be directly ow ned, direct
ownership, like the am ount o f worker ownership
itself, is positively associated with profitability.
Table 4 helps to illustrate these associations.
This table shows the simple, zero-order correla­
tions am ong the variables presented in the regres­
sion analysis. C orrelations that are significant at
the .05 level or better are indicated. We see in this
table not only how the predictors may be associ­
ated with profitability, but also how the predictors
relate to one another. For example, com panies in
which workers hold a high proportion of the equity
tend to be directly owned (r = .68), to have worker
representatives on the board (r = .36), and to
provide voting rights to employee owners (r =
.68). On the other hand, the correlation betw een

Table 4.

Subjectively supported by maeagers
In a previous study, substantial sentim ent in
favor o f employee ow nership was found am ong
both m anagers and w orkers in a com pany th at had
recently adopted an ow nership p lan .11 Em ployee

Correlations among aspects of employee ownership and profitability

ESOT ( = 0) vs. Direct ownership ( = 1)
Percent employees participating
Percent of equity owned internally
Percent of equity owned by workers
Workers on board
Employee stockholders vote
1p <

the percent o f equity ow ned by the workers and
that owned internally (by workers and m anagers)
is not as high as one m ight expect, in view o f the
fact that internal ownership includes ownership by
workers (r = .34). T he proportion o f equity ow ned
by m anagers in m any o f these com panies is
relatively large and “internal ow nership,” there­
fore, reflects m anagerial ownership m ore than
worker ownership.
D irect ownership in this table is significantly
and positively related to adjusted profitability (r =
.48)—unlike the relationship indicated in the
regression analysis—because direct ownership is
associated with the percent o f equity ow ned by
workers, which appears from the regression analy­
sis to be m ore closely associated with profitability.
Voting rights is also associated with the percent of
equity ow ned by workers and it, too, shows a
positive relationship with adjusted profitability
(unlike the relationship in the regression analysis),
although the m agnitude o f the correlation does not
m eet the criterion o f statistical significance, given
the small num ber o f cases.
The percent o f employees who participate in the
ow nership plan, however, does not show the
relationship to profitability th at one might expect
from the hypothesis that employee ownership has a
positive effect on profitability (r = .33). The
explanation m ay hinge on the association, or
rather lack of association, betw een the percent o f
employees who participate and the percent o f
equity owned by w orkers (r = .14). A pparently,
m any com panies that have relatively w idespread
em ployee ownership, in fact, involve only a small
p ro portion o f the com panies’ equity in such
ownership. M any m em bers, in other words, own
very little.

(N = 20)

(N = 25)

-3 3


1 68
'.3 6



Stock plan
vs. direct
(N = 75)


(N = 75)


Percent of
equity owned
(N = 75)

Percent of
equity owned
by workers
(N = 75)

Workers on
(N = 75)





ownership, they felt, contributed substantially to
the satisfaction o f all emplovees, to the m otivation
o f workers, and. ultim ately, to the productivity and
profitability o f the com pany. Records of the
com pany also indicated that grievances and waste
(in the form o f expendable tools) declined and that
productivity and profitability increased during the
period im m ediately following the introduction of
the plan (although profitability was higher during
one period a num ber o f years earlier).
In the present analysis, a m anagem ent represen­
tative in each com pany was asked questions about
the effect o f employee ownership on productivity
and profit. “ Do you think that employee ow ner­
ship affects profits? Does it increase profits,
decrease them, or have no effect?” Similar questions
were asked concerning productivity. On average,
the responses to these questions indicated substan­
tial support for em ployee ownership. The analyses
presented in the previous section, suggesting that
em ployee-owned com panies are associated with
above average profitability within their respective
industries, lend some credence to the claims of
these m anagers. H ow ever, the m anagers who
credited em ployee ownership for high levels o f
profit did not necessarily work for the m ore
profitable com panies.
M anagers in com panies that were substantially
worker-ow ned were no m ore likely to ascribe
positive effects to employee ownership than m an­
agers in less intensively worker-owned com panies
even though the proportion o f equity ow ned by
workers appears to be related to profitability. On
the other hand, em ployee ownership is m ore likely
to be reported to have positive effects on profit
w here such ow nership is direct, rath er than
through a T rust; m anagers also respond m ore
favorably where workers are not represented on
the board.
Each m anager respondent was asked w hether
em ployee ow nership affected the attitudes o f
workers toward their job. The average response
was 0.84 on a scale from 0 to 1, where “ 1” m eans
that work attitudes are better and “0” that they are
worse as a result o f the ownership plan. Their
response, therefore, implies that these m anagers,
on average, perceive em ployee-ownership plans as
having a su b stan tially positive effect on the
a ttitu d e s o f em ployees. But, acco rd in g to a
regression analysis, this judgm ent by m anagers
may be less positive where workers have represen­
tatives on the b o ard o f directors. In general,
m anagers were m ore satisfied with the plan where


ownership is direct rather than through a T rust
and where the percent o f employees who partici­
pate in the plan is relatively large. It seems
reasonable that m anagers should think well o f the
plan where participation is widespread. On the
other hand, we have seen that widespread ow ner­
ship, per se, is not associated with profitability;
such ownership m ay very well m ean that m any
employees own only a very small fraction o f the
equity—and it is the am ount o f equity owned by
workers that appears to be m ost often associated
with profitability.
Taking stock
Em ployee ow nership in the U nited States has
taken a num ber of forms, although examples where
workers own a substantial p art o f a com pany’s
equity are rare. These data, although only prelim i­
nary, offer a glimpse o f the possible im pact of
employee ow nership on the econom ic perform ance
of com panies an d employee attitudes. On the basis
o f this brief analysis, some tentative conclusions
may be suggested: The industrial relations clim ate
in em ployee-ow ned com panies appears to be good,
in the judgm ent of m anagerial respondents; m an a ­
gerial respondents in these com panies see em ploy­
ee ow nership as having a positive effect on
p ro ductivity a n d p rofit; the em ployee-ow ned
com panies that have been studied appear to be
profitable—perhaps m ore profitable than com pa­
rable, conventionally ow ned com panies; the ow n­
ership variable m ost closely associated with profit­
ability is the percent o f equity owned by the
workers themselves; although w orkers’ influence in
the com pany, as ju d g ed by m anagers, is a function
o f worker-ow ned equity, m anagers’ evaluation of
the ownership plan is not affected in a positive way
by either the am ount of equity held by the workers
or the am ount o f influence exercised by the
workers; m anagers appear m ore favorably dis­
posed tow ard plans with w idespread participation
am ong employees, even though this m ay involve
only a small fraction o f the com pany’s equity.
These conclusions are tentative. The com panies
that provided profit data m ay be select, and the
analyses are based on correlations that illustrate
association am ong variables—they do not prove
causation. The results, however, are sufficiently
encouraging to justify a detailed, longitudinal
study o f a num ber o f com panies over a period of
years. Such a study should include m easures o f the
attitudes and m otivations o f all employees within
the com panies as well as m easures o f com pany
perform ance. If em ployee ow nership does have an

effect on the economic performance of a company,
as the data of this study tentatively suggest, the

explanation may be found, at least partly, in the
effect of ownership on the employees themselves.

Democracy and the Worker-Owned Firm (New York, Praeger Publish­
ers, 1972); Katrina Berman, Worker-Owned Plywood Companies: An
Economic Analysis. (Pullman, Wash., Washington State University
Press, 1967); “Comparative productivity in worker-managed coopera­
tive plywood plants and conventionally run plants,” unpublished,
1976; Paul Bernstein, “Democratization or organization: theory,
practice and further possibilities,” Ph. D dissertation, Stanford
University, 1972. See also Seymour Melman, “Managerial versus
cooperative decision making in Israel,” Studies in Comparative
International Development, 1970-71, who compares the performance of
kibbutz firms with conventional firms in Israel. For an analysis of
companies that have substantial profit-sharing programs, some of
which entail a degree o f employee ownership, see Bert L. Metzger,
Profit Sharing in 38 Large Companies (Evanston, 111., Profit Sharing
Foundation, 1975).

'Derek Jones, “The economics and industrial relations o f producer
cooperatives in the United States, 1790-1940,” mimeo.
2“Employee Ownership,” Survey Research Center, Institute for
Social Research, University o f Michigan, Sept. 23, 1977. Matthew J.
Bonaccorso and others, “Survey o f Employee Stock Ownership
Plans,” unpublished masters thesis, University o f California, Los
Angeles, Graduate School o f Management, December 1977.
3The study reported here was done under a grant from the
Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department o f Com­
merce. The views expressed are those o f the authors.
4Louis Kelso and Patricia Hetter, Two Factor Theory: The
Economics o f Reality (New York, Random House, 1968).
5The list was culled from articles in newspapers, magazines and
professional journals, conversations with colleagues, and references
given by persons in employee-owned companies whom we contacted.

l0“Beta” refers to a standardized regression coefficient.

6The definition o f “worker” implicit in the stated procedure differs
somewhat in the two types o f companies. “Workers” may include
foremen and salaried clerical workers in some directly owned
companies, but not in stock-plan companies. Table 2, therefore, may
overstate the difference in worker ownership between stock-plan and
directly owned companies, although we do not believe that the
definitional inconsistency accounts for the entire difference shown in
the table.

11An employee owned firm, Survey Research Center, Institute for
Social Research, The University o f Michigan, Jan. 17, 1977. For a
study o f the reaction o f both managers and workers in Israeli kibbutz,
Yugoslav, American, Austrian, and Italian factories that differ in their
system o f ownership, see Arnold S. Tannenbaum and others,
Hierarchy in Organizations (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1974).
See also Ana Gutierrez Johnson and William Foote Whyte, “The
Mon Dragon System o f Worker Production Cooperatives,” Industrial
and Labor Relations Review, October 1977, pp. 18-30; and Richard J.
Long, “The Effects o f Employee Ownership on Organization,
Employee Job Attitudes, and Organization Performance: A Tentative
Framework and Empirical Findings,” Human Relations, January
1978, pp. 29-48.

7Robert Morris Associates, Annual Statement Studies (Philadel­
phia, Credit Division, 1976).
“These nonowner-workers performed essentially the same jobs as
the worker owners and received the union wage rate.
9For studies in which performance o f worker-owned plywood firms
is compared to that o f conventional firms, see Carl J. Bellas, Industrial

L earning from foreign m anagem ent
First, foreign managers increasingly demand responsibility from
their employees, all the way down to the lowliest blue-collar worker on
the factory floor. They are putting to work the tremendous improve­
ment in the education and skill of the labor force that has been ac­
complished in this century. The Japanese are famous for their “ quali­
ty circles” and their “ continuous learning.” Employees at all levels
come together regularly, sometimes once a week, more often twice a
month, to address the question: “ What can we do to improve what
we already are doing?” In Germany, a highly skilled senior worker
known as the “ Meister” acts as teacher, assistant, and standardsetter, rather than as “ supervisor” and “ boss.”
------- P e t e r F. D r u c k e r
Clarke Professor of Social Sciences,
Claremont Graduate School,
in The Wall Street Journal,
June 4, 1980


Part III. Improving
Workllfe Abroad

The seven articles in this section focus on efforts in
Western Europe and Japan to enlist the participation of
workers and their unions in programs to improve the
work environment, including the nature of work itself.
Because of their often impressive accomplishments, the
many experiments in work and workplace design con­
ducted in these countries during the 1970’s attracted
widespread attention and undoubtedly encouraged
counterpart efforts in the United States.
The role of trade unions in work improvement ex­
periments conducted during the early part of the last
decade in Sweden, Great Britain, France, Italy, and
West Germany is discussed by Joseph Mire. With the
growth of service industries, white-collar as well as bluecollar unions became increasingly involved in these ef­
forts, a development reviewed by Everett Kassalow.
Other articles deal in greater detail with some of the pro­
grams undertaken in specific countries. A second con­
tribution by Mire discusses joint labor-management ef­
forts to deal with worker discontent within the
framework of the Japanese industrial relations system
(although in a period predating the zenith of the qualitycircle movement). David T. Fisher, an American
manager in a West German company, explains that
country’s system of codetermination as established by
the Act of 1976 and other legislation. And Arthur S.
Weinberg describes work council-trade union relations
in the Netherlands, as well as experiments there to
reduce the repetitive character of assembly line work.

The reactions of American workers to working condi­
tions and workplace innovations abroad were examined
through two adventuresome projects sponsored by the
Ford Foundation. In one article, by Arthur S.
Weinberg, six auto workers from the United States were
reported to be rather critical of the group assembly
methods and other employment conditions prevailing in
Swedish auto plants. A second article, by Herbert A.
Perry, describes the experiences of six longshoremen
who worked at the port of Rotterdam, focusing on fac­
tors contributing to job satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
In reading these articles, it is important to bear in
mind that observations and interpretations reported
necessarily reflect the conditions prevailing during a
particular stage in the evolution of the work humaniza­
tion movement. The early to mid-1970’s were years of
trial-and-error experimentation in Europe, with a
predictable mixture of successes and failures. Most im­
portant, however, it was a time during which a founda­
tion was laid, particularly in Scandinavia, for more
sweeping reforms brought about through legislation
enacted in the second half of the decade. Noteworthy in
this regard, according to a recent ilo study, is the fact
that each year since 1974 has seen some European coun­
try enact additional legislation to establish or extend
worker participation in decisionmaking. This preference
for legislative remedies stands in marked contrast to the
much greater reliance placed on collective bargaining
strategies in the United States.


Improving working life—
the role of European unions
A report on effo rts in fiv e countries
to restructure and reorganize jo b s
and on the participation o f trade unions
in jo b im provem ent experiments
Joseph Mire
nations and focuses on the role unions have played
in these efforts.
There are reasons for the newly awakened interest
in job satisfaction. There is an increasing uneasiness
and uncertainty about the stability of the industrial
relations system. Western European unions, using
economic and political muscle, and aided by
incredible progress in technology, have with few
exceptions been highly successful in improving
standards of living of workers and in securing pro­
tection against the various hazards to a worker’s
employment, including unemployment and advanc­
ing age. “For the first time in the history of man­
kind,” as Arnold Toynbee pointed out, “the good
life has come within reach of the masses of the
Yet, good pay, improved working conditions, and
social and welfare legislation do not seem to assure
a happy and satisfied labor force: Labor strife and
unrest continue; rank and file workers seem more
prone now than before to reject collective agree­
ments negotiated by union leadership; wildcat
strikes are numerous and often center on non­
economic concerns,2 and rates of absenteeism and
turnover in industry are spiraling.

E f f o r t s t o h u m a n i z e w o r k are part of the broad
worldwide concern for a better quality of life. On
the shop floor and at the bargaining table, these
efforts cover safety and health, improved systems of
remuneration, job security, and better welfare
provisions. Proposals to humanize work run the
gamut of employer-employee relations from the early
demand for “industrial democracy” first coined by
Beatrice and Sydney Webb to the demand for
worker representation on companies’ boards of
directors and for workers’ control or self-manage­
ment. More recently they have ranged to a demand
for restructuring and reorganizing work to relieve
the worker from the deadening impact of monoto­
nous, repetitive, and boring work and pressures on
the assembly line.
A previous Monthly Labor Review article de­
scribed efforts to make work more meaningful
through worker participation in management deci­
sions.1 This report describes attempts to restructure
and reorganize work in several Western European

Joseph Mire is an econom ist formerly on the staff o f the
American Federation o f State, County and M unicipal
Em ployees. He has also served as adjunct professor at
the School o f International Services o f The Am erican
University, W ashington, D.C. This article stems from a
field study undertaken with the assistance o f a grant from
the Ford Foundation.

The plant—an authoritarian institution?
Increasingly, unions charge that the economic
and social progress achieved by workers often has

From the Review of September 1974


changed very little the basically oppressive and
authoritarian character of the workplace. Some
workers feel they are still mere appendages of the
machine and are treated as tools, hands, or a com­
modity in production. Many jobs are monotonous
and depersonalized, allowing the individual human
being no room for independent judgment or initia­
tive in the performance of their duties and eroding
the need for skills. Workplaces, machines, and tools
continue to be designed by technical engineers,
keeping in mind efficiency and productivity with
little regard for social and human concerns.
Consequently, work for too many people is as dis­
satisfying as it ever was.
Unions (and management) also perceive that as
standards of living advance and education levels
and aspirations of workers rise, there is a corre­
sponding disinclination to do boring and unsatisfy­
ing work. Employers in many nations find they
must turn to foreign workers, often to do the less
desirable jobs. Western Europe today employs about
8V2 million foreign workers who are doing most
of the undesirable jobs. The Ford Co. in Cologne,
Germany, employs 14,000 foreign workers out of
a labor force of 35,000. Eighty percent of workers
employed in a Renault automobile plant near Paris
are foreigners. One Swedish company recently was
unable to recruit a single Swede below the age of
30 for its assembly line operation.3 In Italy too, in
spite of its pockets of unemployment, companies
such as Olivetti and FIAT complain of their diffi­
culties in recruiting native labor for their plants.4
Both management and unions are concerned lest
manual labor may become a synonym for a bad job
suitable only for foreigners.
On a more positive side, many union leaders and
government officials see the demand for a more
rewarding work experience and satisfaction not
merely as a response to workers’ discontent but also
as a logical next step in a dynamic social policy,
and part of the quest for a smooth functioning of
the social and economic system. It is a demand
appropriate for socially and technologically advanced
industrial societies which have already met most of
the early goals of the labor movement. Thus, the
Swedish Prime Ministei Olaf Palme sees new hori­
zons for reform, not through further massive wel­
fare programs, but “. . . in making work less boring
by allowing workers to exercise initiative on the
factory floor.” 5 Similarly the Austrian Minister of
Finance, at a meeting of economic experts of the
Socialist Party called for a qualitative full employ­
ment policy to replace the present quantitative full
employment policy. “It is not enough,” he said,
“that everybody has a job but that he has the kind

of job which is best suited to his interests and
ability.”6 Many trade union leaders have spoken in
the same vein. Arne Geijer, former President of the
Swedish Trade Union Federation, called for the
integration of the production processes with decision­
making and control functions “. . . in order to in­
crease personal responsibilities and with it job satis­
faction within the enterprise.”7 The Austrian Presi­
dent of the Union Federation, Anton Benya, in an
address to the union’s conventions,8 stated: “Next
to achieving material benefits for workers, we must
also search for ways to improve the quality of life.”
These considerations have combined to prompt
many companies and unions to focus on the nature
and organization of work as the main hope for
relieving workers from boring, repetitive, and gen­
erally unsatisfying work. A whole roster of pro­
grams and approaches has been developed, which
includes job enrichment and enlargement; job rota­
tion; team work; small production islands to replace
the assembly line; elimination of time clocks; short­
ening of working hours or extension of rest periods
for monotonous work or both; flexible working hours;
equalizing of working conditions between blue- and
white-collar workers; alternate employment of
workers on administrative and manual jobs; election
of spokesmen from even the smallest units in the
plants; and finally also efforts to secure representa­
tion for workers on the supervisory boards of man­
The following is a brief description of specific
efforts to reorganize and restructure jobs and of
union attitudes towards these efforts in selected
Western European countries— Sweden, Great Bri­
tain, France, Italy, and West Germany.
Varying means and goals
No consensus exists as yet as to which of these
measures— or combination of measures— is most
effective. What works in one place or one country
may not work somewhere else and transferability of
experiences from one plant to another has proven
very difficult. There are presumably some jobs which
are beyond redemption and the only solution may
lie in further technology. Some jobs can be made
more attractive, if not more enobling, by raising the
pay. Again others can be made more acceptable if
workers are given some discretion on how, when,
and at what pace to perform their duties.
Nor should it be assumed that unions in Western
Europe have arrived at a unified policy to deal with
job satisfaction. In Scandinavia, unions have actually
taken the initiative in proposing to management
joint experimental programs to deal with job monot­

ony and assembly line work. At the other end of
the spectrum, some unions flatly refuse to become
involved in programs having to do with production
problems or job satisfaction either on the ground
that this is a management responsibility and/or that
“they would not want workers to become too happy
or the private enterprise system too successful.”9
In between, most of the unions are taking an atti­
tude of “interested concern” or “wait and see,”
going all out neither for nor against programs deal­
ing with job satisfaction. If the results are beneficial
to the workers, the unions will usually go along.
The caution shown by the trade unions must be
viewed in the light of their experiences with previous
schemes to “humanize” the working place and also
in the light of their own institutional interests. Many
unions fear that programs to improve job satisfaction
are either disguises to speed up production, or worse,
merely anti-union devices, even if there should be
a financial spin off for the workers.10 Promises for
more job variety and autonomy are seen as attempts
to divert workers’ attention from more pertinent—
and more costly—union objectives.
Also, for trade union leaders, especially those
who have lived through several depressions, there
is the fear that improved job satisfaction may result
in higher productivity and' thus, at least in the short
rue, reduce the number of available jobs. Still other
unions fear the impact job restructuring may have
on established institutional arrangements for skill
requirements, wage differentials, transfers, and pro­
motions, all of which are often drastically altered
by the introduction of a new work organization
such as teamwork or the breakup of the assembly
line and its replacement by production islands.
Last, but not least, unions are prone to point out
that there has been no rank-and-file articulation of
the demand for union action on job improvement
programs ( although such failure may tell more about
the worker’s estimate of what a union can and can
not do rather than whether or not workers are satis­
fied with their jobs). In the absence of any definite
policy on work restructuring and job satisfaction
among most unions, the degree of participation in
management programs is largely left to workers and
union representatives in the plant. That is where a
good deal of sharing in the decisionmaking is going
on on a more or less informal basis.
Significant joint effort in Sweden
A recognized pioneer of social and economic
reforms, Sweden has now also become one of the
world’s foremost laboratories for the humanization of
the workplace. Unions and companies in Sweden are
currently engaged on a substantial scale in joint

programs to redesign tools, machines, plants, and
the organization of work to allow workers more
variety on their jobs, more discretion on how to do
their jobs, more opportunities for individual growth
and participation in problem-solving situations, and,
consequently, more job satisfaction. These results
are to be achieved in conjunction with rising pro­
ductivity since, realistically, it is felt that increased
job satisfaction at the expense of productivity— and
therefore also at the expense of income of the
workers— is an untenable proposition.
On the management side, interest in job satis­
faction of workers has been prompted by high rates
of turnover' and absenteeism, serious difficulties in
recruiting labor, especially for assembly line opera­
tions, and increasing friction between workers and
supervisory personnel resulting in an alarming re­
currence of unplanned work stoppages. On the
union side the case for job improvement was suc­
cinctly formulated in its program for “industrial
democracy” adopted at the 1971 Congress of the
Swedish Trade Union Confederation (L O ). Taking
note of the “glaring difference which exists between
conditions at work and those outside the factory
gates, where social reform had transformed the
whole character of life,” the federation considers it
inevitable that the individual workers’ interests
should “turn to other aspects of his working life than
wages and working conditions in the narrow sense.
The workers increasingly look for more job satis­
faction and a better environment. . . .”1X
The result of these mutual concerns, given the
highly centralized labor market policy of Sweden,
and its very mature level of employer-employee
relationships, has been a very significant joint labormanagement effort to come to grips with workers’
dissatisfaction and to engage in programs of experi­
mentation with a view to adjusting work to the
workers rather than, as in the past, having the
worker adjust to the job. Although job redesign
experiments have not been limited to the automobile
industry, outstanding examples are provided by two
Swedish automotive companies, Saab and Volvo.
Saab began its experimentation with job im­
provement programs at Scania in 1969. The plant
manufactures trucks and Saab engines, and employs
about 5,000 people. After exploratory talks with
the Metal Workers Union, it was decided to form
a joint “Reference Group” to guide and assist in
the development of the program. For its initial trial
run, this group selected two operations in the
chassis department, engine finishing and small bore
piping. In each section a production and a develop­
ment group was formed; the former to propose

changes in the work organization and the latter to
suggest improvements in the everyday cooperation
between workers and supervisory personnel and
the various specialists. Forty people in two produc­
tion and two development groups initially took part.
By early 1973 their numbers had grown to over
1,500 workers in 130 production and more than 60
development groups. Ultimately all employees are
expected to be active participants in the program.12
Both management and workers seem well-satisfied
with the results to date, although the road to success
has not always been smooth. Production goals have
been met, quality improved, and turnover and un­
planned work stoppages significantly reduced.13 Many
valuable ideas have come, spontaneously, out of the
group. As byproducts, the company and union also
point to better relations between workers and work
study personnel and less opposition— or criticism—
to the introduction of new tools and methods, since
those matters are now being discussed at length at
the periodic meetings of the development groups.
Also, company and workers’ representatives no
longer talk of “experiments” and all are agreed that
it would be very difficult to go back to the old
assemblv line.
Many of the experiences gained at Scania have
since been incorporated into a new engine factory
built in 1972. There the assembly line has been
replaced by a “group assembly” and the principle of
using production and development groups have be­
come generally accepted. In fact, some of its features
are now being applied to office employees. Also
on the drawing board are plans to involve the
development groups in the preparation of the annual
budget of the company and to train workers and
supervisory personnel in such fields as “working
in a group,” knowing the product, industrial eco­
nomics and engineering, and work simplification.
Volvo, like Saab, started its program in the late
1960’s with the full encouragement, endorsement,
and cooperation of the Metal Workers Union. As a
first step, the union negotiated with management an
agreement providing for the establishment of specific
minimum standards for the physical environment
in the plants, applicable to all Volvo factories and
offices. Their aim, of course, was to reduce risks to
health and safety. Next, in line with a recommenda­
tion of a committee composed of union and manage­
ment representatives, a number of project groups
and factory committees were formed to consider
proposals for the improvement of job satisfaction.
At Volvo Torslanda, some 1,000 workers partici­
pate in a job rotation program. Workers change
jobs every day, or in some departments, every 4
hours. For example, one group will assemble fuel

pipes on Monday; fit side windows on Tuesday; fit
car interiors on Wednesday; assemble rear parts on
Thursday; and fit fuel pipes again on Friday. The
system requires that workers learn to do four jobs
instead of only one and, to make this possible, the
company has introduced an elaborate training pro­
gram. At Volvo-Lundbywerken, which produces
trucks and buses, teamwork was introduced. Groups
of up to nine workers are given a work assignment
and they decide for themselves who does what.
The teams elect their own foreman—on a rotating
basis— and they do their own training, with the cost
of the training borne by the company. Production
problems are discussed with management at monthly
meetings. A new production technology was installed
in a new engine factory built by Volvo at Skovde.
Here the assembly line has been completely replaced
by small “work groups.” Built-in “puffer zones”
give workers and/or the work groups a chance to
determine their own workpace as well as rest
periods. The work groups are fully responsible for
quality control, processing of raw materials, and
tool inventories. Each work group takes care of
the transport of motors from one workshop to the
other. The company employs 600 workers and pro­
duces 25,000 engines annually. The most advanced
Volvo plant has just been constructed at Calmar.
It incorporates at this new assembly works all the
positive elements of the experience gained in other
Volvo plants, after earnest and detailed discussions
with all concerned, including the union, the factory
central committee, and, most important, the
workers themselves. Work groups of up to 20
workers were established for each operation, such
as electric system, instruments, brakes, and wheels.
Within the groups the workers themselves decide
on who does what, what the pattern of the opera­
tion should be, and the beginning and ending of the
work shift. Electric trucks are used to transport car
bodies between the departments. The layout of the
plant maintains a small shop atmosphere because a
great number of dividing walls separate adjoining
workrooms, and each room has its own entrance,
restroom, and puffer zone. The plant will employ
600 workers and is expected to produce 30,000
engines annually.
Efforts in Great Britain
Because of our common heritage, the British
system of industrial relations is closest to the Ameri­
can system. But there are some important differ­
ences. The trade union structure, while democratic,
is also very untidy. Craft, industrial, and general
unions function side by side, often competing and
bargaining for the same skill. No union has exclu­

be accommodated. No less than 16 unions are in­
volved, with the major union being brought in at
every stage of the planning. The teams do their
own training, administration, maintenance, and stock
control. Productivity moved up moderately and so
did pay. More important, absenteeism declined and
quality improved. All employees are encouraged to
learn at least two or three tasks. A new technology
is about to be introduced in a 5-year-old plant pro­
ducing washing machines. A “working party” com­
posed of engineers, efficiency experts, and shop
stewards has studied its likely impact on workers
and has come up with pertinent recommendations
on teamwork.
Teamwork has also been introduced at several
plants of the Imperial Chemical Co. It has been
supported fully by the General and Municipal
Workers Union which termed the program an out­
standing success, inasmuch as it raised productivity
and pay and reduced turnover and the number of
disputes. Key to the success, according to the union,
has been the involvement of the workers who as­
sisted, at weekly staff meetings, in identifying jobs
workers do and those they can do. Those doing
routine jobs were given additional responsibilities,
including testing, cleaning, and repairing.
The Transport and General Workers Union main­
tains a position of neutrality on job improvement
programs, neither encouraging nor discouraging their
local branches from participation in companyinitiated programs, except for those dealing with
such narrowly defined issues as health and safety,
which are being pressed hard by the union. Also,
the union has made special efforts to raise the pay
for low-skilled workers. The union position is that
pay hikes are the real reason there has been no
serious problems of worker turnover or absenteeism
in companies under its jurisdiction and no rankand-file demand for improved job satisfaction. The
union is interested in experiments in other com­
panies abroad and top officials plan to visit the
Volvo plant in Sweden.
By contrast, the Amalgamated Union of Engi­
neering Workers seems very definitely cool to any
suggestion that it should cooperate with manage­
ment on production problems. Work satisfaction
under capitalism is held to be an elusive goal which
the union has no desire to achieve anyway. The
union has been invited by the TUC to serve on the
Tripartite Committee on Job Satisfaction but has
declined. Yet the union is asking for a vast exten­
sion of the scope of collective bargaining. The union
is interested in new technology, shorter hours of
work, and higher pay rather than restructuring jobs

sive jurisdiction. Consequently, there is no industry
with only one union, but some with as many as 20
unions. There is an emphasis on national agreements
—with varying degrees of supplementary bargain­
ing left to the local plant organization— and a heavy
reliance on unwritten and uncodified understandings
and practices. Shop stewards, functioning across
jurisdictional lines, take part in plant negotiations
and guide union policies. They are, unfortunately,
also responsible for a good portion of unauthorized
strikes. Disputes about rights, arising out of a collec­
tive bargaining agreement, are settled by internal
joint machinery rather than outside arbitrators as is
so common in the United States.
In June of 1973, the Trade Union Congress
(TU C), the British counterpart of the AFL-CIO,
took the first important step in the field of job satis­
faction when it joined with the Confederation of
British Industry and the Government in the estab­
lishment of a Tripartite Committee on Job Satisfac­
tion. The committee has nine members— three each
from government, business, and labor— and is
chaired by the Minister of State, the second highest
official in the Foreign Service. The committee does
research and offers advice and assistance to com­
panies which wish to engage in experimental job
satisfaction programs.
The TUC has agreed to serve on the committee
though it has not yet adopted an official position on
the issue. Job satisfaction is viewed by the TUC
only as a part of its larger demand for “industrial
democracy” or, more specifically right now, as part
of its demand for worker representation on the
supervisory boards of management.14 The TUC posi­
tion, according to responsible spokesmen, is that
before workers should be asked to join in job re­
structuring programs, they should be given a larger
share in the economic decisions of the company.
This position notwithstanding, the TUC has encour­
aged participatory arrangements at the floor level.
Examples of trade union participation in pro­
grams to restructure jobs can be found in the petro­
leum and tobacco industries, electronics, and bank­
ing, all of which have much routine work and
therefore serious problems of turnover and/or
absenteeism. The Phillips Electronic Co. has been
heavily engaged for many years in a variety of
approaches to improve work satisfaction. It oper­
ates some 20 plants in Great Britain, with about
65,000 employees, and employs three behavioral
scientists to assist in experimental programs. The
company has introduced teamwork in several plants.
Although workers were invited but not forced to
participate, more workers volunteered than could


as the solution to boring work.
In the British steel industry, cooperation on pro­
duction problems has long been practiced. The Iron
and Steel Workers Federation is brought in at every
stage of new designs for tools, machines, or plants.
This type of full cooperation has continued un­
interruptedly through private and public ownership,
and concern for productivity and the competitiveness
of the industry has always ranked very high with
the union. It recently gave its approval to an indus­
try plan which will reduce employment in the steel
industry within the next 10 years by some 50,000
to 60,000 workers.
In banking, the Union of Bank Employees takes
a strong interest in job satisfaction. Menial jobs
abound in banking, and turnover rates vary from
15 to 20 percent per annum. This worries the union
even more than management because the training
cost of new employees is minimal. Therefore, the
union is cooperating fully in endeavors to create
more meaningful work in banking. An Interbank
Research Organization has just been established to
research problems of job satisfaction. It is trying to
estimate the technology which will govern banking
in the coming decade and determine the kind of
adjustments which can and should be made now.
Management initiative in France
Trade unions in France are split along ideological
lines into three major federations: The Communist
General Federation of Labor; the Democratic Feder­
ation of Labor (formerly the Christian Federation of
Labor); and the Socialist Force Ouvriere. Total
membership is less than 20 percent of all workers,
the lowest of any Western European country. Union
dues are low, payment irregular, and, consequently,
the financial structure weak. The Government plays
a large role in setting economic and social policies,
including wages, in public as well as private employ­
ment. A polarization of interests dominates labormanagement relations, the former committed to the
class struggle, the latter often still inclined towards
paternalistic attitudes, viewing the plant as an exten­
sion of the family.
In November 1973, the French National Assembly
passed a law creating an independent Agency for
the Improvement of Working Conditions. Its major
purpose is to focus on problems of job satisfaction.
The agency will collect information about significant
achievements by companies, organize training semi­
nars, and offer assistance to companies or unions
wishing to promote experimental programs. A tri­
partite Board has been established composed of five
representatives each from labor and management,
three representatives from Government, and two

academics. All major unions have promised to coop­
erate, though some with the declared intention to
direct the efforts of the agency towards matters of
health and safety rather than job restructuring or
other production problems.
About 30 large companies as well as some
nationalized industries, including the Postal Service,
are engaged in action-research programs dealing
with work reorganization to improve job satisfac­
tion, though precise information is hard to come by.
Unions are being informed and consulted, but as a
rule not asked to officially endorse the program,
which they would be most reluctant to do. However,
companies generally have managed to get worker
and union support at the plant level.
Of the three major union federations, the Force
Ouvriere is most receptive to job satisfaction pro­
grams. It wants to get away from the assembly line
and is concerned about the resistance of young
people to do any kind of manual labor. The federa­
tion has large membership in the public service and
in banks and insurance companies, where mechani­
zation is now being pushed in earnest and boredom
is widespread. Several local union branches of the
federation are involved in experimental programs,
and their reports have been quite favorable.
The Democratic Federation of Labor is interested
in job satisfaction because of its strong theoretical
commitment to a system of self-management. It
wants to eliminate all piecework as well as shift­
work, the latter because it interferes with family life,
and it is trying to reduce the spread in income be­
tween various skills of workers. In actual practice,
perhaps for reasons of competitiveness, the union is
shying away from openly cooperating with manage­
ment on production problems. The Communist Gen­
eral Federation of Labor is pragmatic. It opposes
cooperation on production problems as a matter of
principle, but will go along, and— if past experience
is a guide— share the credit, if the experimental
programs should be successful.
Given the general reluctance of all three federa­
tions to openly cooperate with management on pro­
duction problems, companies are pretty much left
free to reorganize work, conceded by the unions to
be a management prerogative. Also, French unions
seldom have the strength at the plant level to oppose
such programs even if they wished to do so. Nor do
they attach a high priority to job satisfaction because
of other more pressing problems. All three federa­
tions have been pushing very hard for a harmoniza­
tion of pay and other working conditions between
blue- and white-collar workers. Much of the dif­
ferentiation in sickness benefits, vacations, and holi­
days, for example, already has been eliminated.

Monthly pay has been negotiated by all three federa­
tions in an agreement signed July 1970, which
became effective in two steps January 1972 and
July 1973 respectively.
The Renault Automobile plant, a nationalized
enterprise, has been a leading pioneer in job restruc­
turing. It tried most of the known approaches with
as many plants and workers as possible to find
optimum solutions. First, the company concentrated
on improving the physical conditions to correct what
unions called the “inhumanity of industry.” Then,
job enrichment and rotation, teamwork, and other
changes in the assembly line followed. For example,
workers producing a new type of radiator were
given additional responsibility for quality control. In
a new plant at Donde, the general assembly of cars
was broken down and reorganized so that workers
could stop work without stopping the whole assembly
line. Thus the pressure on each group has been
lessened. At Le Mans, the assembly line was
changed in two steps. First, workers were instructed
to learn two or three operations which allowed them
to move with the piece instead of doing only one
operation always standing in the same place. Later,
the assembly line was completely eliminated and
replaced by “production islands.” Four workers now
work at a table surrounded by containers. The
unions, according to a company spokesman, re­
mained aloof initially but could not object when the
workers liked it.
Job redesign in Italy
Many of the features described earlier for France
also apply to the trade union scene in Italy, that is,
unions are split along political or religious lines,
dues are low, the financial structure of unions is
relatively weak, there is heavy reliance on political
as against economic action, employers are often
paternalistic, attitudes are polarized, and there is a
strong syndicalist and anarchist tradition. A problem
peculiar to Italy is the existence of a “black market”
for jobs. Small, unorganized shops operate in viola­
tion of most of the protective labor legislation, in­
cluding social insurance, and pay little, if any, taxes.
These enterprises defy Government and union at­
tempts to eliminate them because the workers em­
ployed in these “sweat shops” support and defend
the system. It is estimated that some 10 percent of
the Italian labor force may be employed in such jobs.
The three major union federations are: The com­
munist Italian General Federation of Labor; the
Demo-Christian Confederation of Labor; and the
socialist Italian Union of Labor. Of these, the Italian
General Federation of Labor is the strongest. All
three federations are on record as favoring the

humanization of the workplace and the improvement
of the quality of life. Their interests are directed
primarily at measures to improve health and safety,
to equalize working conditions for blue- and whitecollar workers, and to reduce the gap in wages of
workers with different skills. Unions view job enrich­
ment programs, teamwork, and elimination of the
assembly line in a larger context: They would like
to see workers given more say not only on how to
perform but also on what to produce. For example,
the Agricultural Workers Union recently demanded
of management changes in production goals to intro­
duce more labor-intensive crops as well as crops
oriented towards a “social purpose,” such as wheat
in the place of artichokes. Not unexpectedly, the
demands were rejected by management but the
demand for “social control” continues to play a
powerful part in the propaganda arsenal of all three
union federations. On the local level, companies
experimenting with job restructuring have found it,
generally speaking, not difficult to get cooperation
from the respective unions. Two examples are pro­
vided by Olivetti and FIAT.
At Olivetti, job enlargement has been going on for
a long time as a continuing process of improving
production methods. More recently the principle of
“production islands” has been introduced in the
manufacture of electronic calculators. Under this
system groups are comprised of four workers in­
stead of 100 or more as previously on the assembly
line. The workers now do a complete subassembly
and also their own repairing and testing and, as a
result, have all been put into higher classifications.
A much higher proportion than previously is now
being carried on the payroll as skilled workers, usu­
ally after undergoing short training programs. Job
redesign, the company feels, has been very instru­
mental in improving work discipline and in reducing
an abnormally high rate of absenteeism. Besides, it
has injected a new image into the industry. After
some initial reluctance, unions have been cooperating
fully in the program.
The FIAT Automobile Co. started looking into job
satisfaction in 1969 when it was expanding so
rapidly it had to import labor from southern Italy.
These workers found conditions in industry “shock­
ingly inhuman.” They missed working at their own
pace, lacked work discipline, and disliked the as­
sembly line. FIAT began by applying job enrichment
to workers not on the assembly line. Workers were
given additional responsibiliites such as quality con­
trol, minor repairs, and preparing machines for
operation. Then job enlargement was applied to the
assembly line, first to the production of auto bodies.
The speed of the assembly line belt was slowed from

1 minute to 4, and workers instructed to do several
operations. Finally, at a new plant established at
Termoli in 1972, the assembly line is used only to
move motors and the actual work is done by teams
off the assembly line on production islands. Accord­
ing to interviews with both union and company offi­
cials, the programs have been quite successful in
reducing absenteeism and in moving a larger pro­
portion of workers into higher skilled jobs and
therefore enabling them to earn more pay. Turnover
has not been a serious problem, since Italian workers
traditionally have not been very mobile.
Research efforts in Germany
Although democratization of work has been dis­
cussed widely and thoroughly for a number of
years in Germany, the interest thus far has been
largely theoretical. Only a few companies are ac­
tively engaged in experimental programs specifically
addressed to the promotion of job satisfaction.15
Several German automobile executives have traveled
to Sweden to observe the programs at Volvo but
have not yet changed their technology.
The Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Sci­
ence and Technology have joined in creating a spe­
cial commission whose task is to formulate a re­
search program aimed at the development of alter­
native— and more humane— work organizations.
The commission also will make recommendations
for the support of experimental programs to hu­
manize work. It will start its work this fall.
The trade unions have initially thought mostly in
terms of a “democratization” rather than restructur­
ing of the workplace. They have tried to seek an
increase in the decisionmaking power of workers,
partly through an amendment of the German works
council law, providing for the election of “Gruppen
sprecher” (group spokesmen) to give smaller units
in plants an opportunity to share in the decision­

making, and partly through an extension of the law
on codetermination giving workers in all industries
equal representation on the supervisory boards of
management.16 Subsequently, enthusiasm and sup­
port for the election of “Gruppen sprecher” cooled
considerably and the demand has been dropped,
focusing union efforts now almost exclusively on
the extension of codetermination.
Intensive research, however, continues at the
Central Trade Union Federation, (DGB) under the
auspices of the Institute for Economic and Social
Research, an independent arm of the Union Federa­
tion. An interdisciplinary team project, with repre­
sentation from the fields of economics, political sci­
ence, sociology, and engineering, is trying to deter­
mine the nature and content of a “labor-oriented
technology.” The emphasis is on empirical, socio­
economic research studies on how best to protect
workers interest in such a new technology. The inter­
ests of workers are defined as requiring for every
job some ability, some decisionmaking, some oppor­
tunity to advance, and some social contact. It is
hoped that the sum total of their research will pro­
vide the elements of a systematic labor-oriented
theory on job improvement.
E a c h c o u n t r y , industry, and company has to find
its own solution to the problems of work dissatis­
faction. It seems likely that unions will be increas­
ingly pressed by management initiatives, on the one
hand, and their own desire to enhance the dignity
of workers and improve their quality of life, on the
other, to explore alternatives to the present work
organization. In view of the union’s role as spokes­
man for the human factor in industry, and as a
vital instrumentality for effecting social and eco­
nomic change, it is difficult to see how the goals of
job improvement could be achieved without the
fullest and wholehearted cooperation of the trade
union movement.

-FOOTNOTES'Josep h Mire, “European workers’ participation in m an­
agem ent,” M on th ly L abor R eview , February 1973, pp. 9 -1 5 .
2 Even West G erm any, with its tradition o f union disci­
pline and tight union structure, had no fewer than 370
wild cat strikes in the m etal industry in the first 10 months
o f 1973. (A rb e it und W irtschaft, Austrian Federation of
Trade Unions, Vienna, D ecem ber 1973).
3 Basil W hiting, Program Officer, Ford Foundation, state­
ment before the Senate Com m ittee on Em ploym ent, M an­
power and Poverty, July 26, 1972.
* Personal interviews, October 1973.

7 Industrial D em ocracy in the Seventies, Swedish Federa­
tion o f Trade U nions, Stockholm , 1971.
8 V ienna, 1971.
9 Personal interview with a research director o f a large
trade union in Great Britain, N ovem ber 1974. This position
is, admittedly, equivocal, since this union, like all others,
is bargaining with managem ent on a number o f issues, all
o f which aim at improvement o f working conditions and
thus aid in the survival o f the “system .”
10 See also D onald F. Ephlin, “The U n ion s’ Role in Job
Enrichment Programs,” in proceedings o f the winter 1973

5 Q uoted in R eaders D igest, April 1, 1974, p. 174.

6 D ie Zukunft, V ienna, M ay 1973.


meeting o f the Industrial Relations Research A ssociation.
11 Industrial D em ocracy, Swedish Trade U nion Confedera­
tion, Stockholm , 1972.
12 The Saab-Scania Report, Swedish Employers Confedera­
tion, Stockholm , 1973.
13 Pehr G. G yllenhammar, President o f V olvo, in a speech
at the Swedish-American Chamber o f Commerce in N ew
York City on Mar. 26, 1974, estimated that a reduction of
only 1 percent in turnover an d /or absenteeism justifies an
investment o f $30 m illion, for a com pany em ploying 10,000
14 U ntil quite recently, the T U C had been opposed to any

involvem ent in any aspects o f m anagement, outside of
collective bargaining. The switch in its present attitude to­
wards representation on the supervisory boards o f m anage­
m ent may have been influenced by the fact that a proposal
providing for such representation has been included re­
cently in a draft docum ent o f the Com m on M arket
For som e

exam ples, see


“European workers’

18 Such representation at present is limited to coal and
steel industries.

N ot ju st a passing vogue
This growing interest in workers’ participation is all the more
remarkable if one considers the larger environment in which it has
recently developed. In many countries it was originally conceived in
a period of growth and expansion, when the main issues related to
the redistribution of wealth. As recession, unemployment, and in­
flation set in, both managements and trade unions were faced with
tougher questions, namely job security and even the survival of
enterprises themselves. At a time when managements were suppos­
ed to expedite decisionmaking in order to facilitate the quick adop­
tion of contingency measures, certain forms of workers’ participa­
tion loomed, in the eyes of some employers, as an additional
challenge, if not as a handicap, to business operations. For the
trade unions, workers’ participation in times of recession entailed a
shift of emphasis from the traditional concern with bargaining,
wage rates, and the securing of better conditions of employment to
the attainment of a bigger role in the running of enterprises. This
was not an easy change, particularly for those unions which had
reservations as to their involvement in management or were hesitant
to promote workers’ participation bodies likely to compete with
The fact that workers’ participation has continued to develop in
lean years shows that it is not just a passing vogue but a lasting and
deeply rooted movement. To be sure, there have been some set­
backs, particularly as regards workers’ representation on company
boards, as well as feelings of frustration at the limited success of ef­
forts to expand shop-floor-level experiments. By and large,
however, it is safe to say that there has been a continuous move
towards more extensive forms of workers’ participation in general.
International Labour Office,
in “ Workers’ Participation
in Decisions Within Enterprises: Recent
Trends and Problems,” International
Labour Review, Vol. 121, No. 2,
March-April 1982

-------E . C o r d o v a ,


White-collar unions and the
work humanization movement
In both developed and developing countries,
service industries and white-collar occupations
have expanded; increasing white-collar unionization
in economically advanced nations points to a
new concern with shaping satisfying jobs
E v e r e t t M. K assalow
W orldwide economic development since W orld
W ar II has transform ed the labor force distribution
among industries and occupations in both devel­
oped and developing countries, with service indus­
tries and white-collar occupations showing the
greatest growth. This shift has spurred white-collar
unionization, just as it has altered the concerns of
blue-collar unions in many countries. Reflecting
these changes in labor force distribution, many
unions are turning m ore and more tow ard issues of
“work hum anization,” tow ard an increased concern
with participation in the organization of job tasks
and with development of jobs that are intrinsically

Shift in distributions
The advances in personal income registered by
m ost countries in the postw ar period have been ac­
companied by a large increase in the dem and for
services. As family income has risen, some in­
creased spending has gone for automobiles, appli­
ances, and other hard goods, but—especially in the
Everett M. Kassalow is a professor of economics at the University of
Wisconsin. This article is based in part on a larger report on “Full Em­
ployment, Income Security, Non-Manual Labor Force Trends, and
Work Humanization” prepared for the 18th World Congress of the
International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, and Technical Em­
ployees held in Helsinki, Finland, on August 22-27, 1976.

From the Review of May 1977


past decade— a greater proportion of the rising in­
come has been spent for services such as education,
medical case, insurance, travel, and recreation. N a t­
urally, the labor force has reflected these expendi­
ture trends, and the service sector of the economy
has led the way in labor force growth.
A recent International Labor Office survey shows
the service sector of the work force leading the way
in practically all the developed countries.1 F or ex­
ample, in Belgium, the service or tertiary sector (in­
cluding commerce, finance, insurance, and com m u­
nity, social, and personal services) grew from 38.9
percent of employment in 1947 to 52.5 percent in
1970; in Canada, from 45.3 percent in 1951 to 61.3
percent in 1971; in France, from 34.3 percent in
1946 to 47.8 percent in 1970; in Germ any, from
32.3 percent in 1946 to 41.9 percent in 1970; in the
U nited Kingdom , from 45.8 percent in 1951 to 50.3
percent in 1966; and in the United States, from 53.6
percent in 1950 to 62.1 percent in 1970. There is
every reason to believe that those trends will con­
tinue— and spread to other countries as well— in
the years ahead, as concern for education, health,
and the environm ent grows.
A lthough fewer data are available, the service or
tertiary sector has also been expanding rapidly in
m ost developing countries. For example, in Brazil,
this sector grew from 26.4 percent of employment

in 1950 to 38.0 percent in 1970; in Mexico, from
21.9 percent in 1940 to 26.9 percent in 1960; and in
Egypt, from 19.3 percent in 1937 to 29.8 percent in
1960. The reasons for this flow to the service sector
in developing countries are not as clear as those for
developed countries, but they do seem to relate to
m igration from rural to urban areas. A nd in the u r­
ban areas, many new plants are so highly mechanized that they offer relatively few industrial jobs.
There is also a strong, rising demand for services in
developing countries. Moreover, as a study of the
service sector in Mexico suggests, the lower rate of
productivity in services than in the industrial sector
adds to the relatively higher demand for service la­
These labor force shifts among industrial sectors
have naturally entailed dram atic changes in occupa­
tional distributions as well. More employment in
schools, hospitals, and insurance companies gener­
ally means that professional, technical, and clerical
jobs expand more rapidly than those for farmers,
laborers, assemblers, or other blue-collar workers.
The growth of white-collar jobs has been in
progress in many developed countries for m ost of
this century; only in the last decade or two, how­
ever, have white-collar workers come to outnum ber
blue-collar workers in the m ost highly developed
economies. (See table 1.) M ost labor force experts

TabS® 1.

in developed countries expect the growth of whitecollar employment to continue. A recent govern­
ment report in Japan found white-collar employees
constituting 38.7 percent of the labor force in 1973
and projected expansion to about 46 percent by
1985.3 For the United States, where white-collar
workers were 48.6 percent of the work force in
1974, the proportion is expected to rise to 51.5 per­
cent by 1985.4
In most of the developing countries for which
longitudinal data on occupational distributions are
available, white-collar employment seems to be in­
creasing rapidly, also. For example, white-collar
workers expanded from 15.6 percent of the Mexi­
can labor force in 1950 to 23.1 percent in 1970.
D uring this period, overall employment rose by 55
percent, while the num ber of employed white-collar
workers grew by 129 percent. In Chile, white-collar
workers rose from 20.4 percent of the work force in
1952 to 26.8 percent of a much larger work force in
1970. In Turkey, they rose from 4.7 percent of the
work force in 1950 to 8.7 percent in 1965.
A lthough it is custom ary to emphasize long-run
dem and factors in explaining the growth of the ter­
tiary sector, Yves Sabolo called attention to
changes on the labor supply side. He found that in­
come prospects, for equal qualifications, “seem bet­
ter in much of the tertiary sector than in industry. .

Occupational distributions of employed workers, selected countries, 1947-71


1947 .......................................................................................................
1 9 7 1 .......................................................................................................
1950 .......................................................................................................
1 9 7 1 .......................................................................................................
1950 .......................................................................................................
1970 .......................................................................................................
1950 .......................................................................................................
1970 .......................................................................................................
New Zealand
1 9 5 1 .......................................................................................................
1 9 7 1 .......................................................................................................
1950 .......................................................................................................
1 970 .......................................................................................................
United Kingdom
1 9 5 1 .......................................................................................................
1 9 7 1 .......................................................................................................
United States
1 950 .......................................................................................................
1 970 .......................................................................................................

White colar




H us e e ls ’



































NOTE: Figures from United Nations Demographic Yearbook, various years, for economically
active populations, have been rounded in some cases. (Canadian figures for 1971 taken
directly from 1971 Canadian Census.) Occupational categories may vary slightly between
countries, and, for example, for the most recent year some countries used the International
Standard Classification of Occupation for 1958 instead of 1968. Moreover, within countries
the shift from 1958 to 1968 makes very close comparisons doubtful; but generally, btue-collar
workers include those in production or related jobs, miners, construction workers, truck drivers,










lodging, food service, and similar personnel; white-collar workers include professional and
technical, managerial, clerical, and sales personnel. “Other” usually includes those not elsewhere
classified, or those whose occupations were not known. Those in the armed forces have been
subtracted from the totals. Unemployed workers are in a few cases included in their occupa­
tional categories; in 1 or 2 cases, certain aboriginal groups are excluded. During these years,
occupational definitions have been modified slightly in some countries—for these and similar
reasons small changes within countries and between countries are not significant

laborers, factory operatives, skilled craftworkers, and the like; service workers include protective



. . Secondly, as a result of the content of education
and increasing labor force participation by women,
there is an increasingly pronounced preference for
employment in the tertiary sector rather than in the
secondary sector.” This trend in personal tastes in
the developed countries “has led the machines to be
preferred to the plough and now for the pen to the
m achine,” he added. “This trend has also m ade a
sudden emergence in the developing countries.” 5

members by 1955, but it is also significant that the
white-collar federation went from about one-fourth
the size of the blue-collar LO in 1955 to half the
size (951,000 members) in 1975. In G reat Britain,
Professors R obert Price and George Bain estimate
th at white-collar union membership grew from 1.9
to 3.6 million from 1948 to 1974, an increase of 83
percent.7 Blue-collar unionization in Britain was
practically stable during the same period.
A lthough it is difficult to find com parable data
for m ost other countries, a few additional figures
may be of interest. As a whole, the predom inantly
blue-collar Danish Federation of Trade Unions
(LO) increased 47 percent from 1955 to 1975; the
LO ’s large white-collar affiliate, Commercial and
Clerical State Employees, expanded by 184 percent.
While the entire Germ an Federation of Trade
Unions (DGB) increased membership by 20 percent
from 1955 to 1975, the num ber of unionized whitecollar employees in the federation (excluding civil
servants) grew 104 percent—and hundreds of thou­
sands of other white-collar workers belong to a sep­
arate group, the G erm an Salaried Employees’
Union. The Austrian Federation of Trade Unions
(OGB) increased 35 percent from 1955 to 1975; the
private white-collar employees union expanded 67
percent, becoming the O G B ’s largest affiliate.

White-collar unionization
The continuing growth of white-collar employ­
m ent suggests that unionizing these workers m ust
be increasingly im portant to organized labor, par­
ticularly in developed countries. Traditionally, most
union movements (especially those before W orld
W ar II) have been based upon blue-collar workers.
In addition to representing their members at the
workplace, these unions have generally supported
political causes such as social welfare legislation,
tax reform, and economic planning. As the propor­
tion of white-collar workers expands, the political
influence of organized labor may decline unless the
degree of white-collar unionization increases as
W hat are the trends in white-collar unionization?
Briefly, there appears to be a general relationship
between the levels of blue- and white-collar union­
ization in m ost developed countries, as blue-collar
organizing has typically led the way for white-collar
movements. An A ustralian scholar, D. W. Rawson,
recently summarized blue- and white-collar union­
ization rates for developed countries around 1971
and noted that Sweden had the highest rates of
unionization for both blue- and white-collar work
ers.6 The following tabulation gives Raw son’s fig­
ures for the percentages of blue- and white-collar
workers who belong to unions in six developed
United States..............
Britain .......................
Australia ...................

B lu e c o lla r

W h ite co lla r



Work humanization
The growth in white-collar unionization has coin­
cided with an increased interest in the work hum an­
ization movement, which seeks to develop intrinsi­
cally satisfying jobs. W hite-collar union members,
who are likely to be better educated and m ore re­
ceptive to changes in job design, seem to accept
work hum anization efforts more readily than many
blue-collar workers.
To date, m ost work hum anization activities have
centered in the developed countries, though some
aspects (such as the campaign for improved safety
from dangerous machinery and chemicals) have
been more universal. (The drive for worker partici­
pation in top m anagement, which has at times gone
hand in hand with the work hum anization emphasis
on job redesign, has also been concentrated in de­
veloped countries.) But in a very real sense, the
movement for m ore satisfying jobs is a natural out­
growth of the traditional concerns of unions every­
where, concerns that led to historic struggles
against inhum anly long hours of work and atro­
cious working conditions.
The work hum anization m ovem ent’s special con­
tribution is its suggestion that work should satisfy
the workers, that jobs should be m ore than ju st a
way of earning money. Previously, work has gener­

A lthough white-collar unionization still trails
blue-collar in each country, white-collar organizing
has been gaining ground rapidly in m any countries.
In Sweden, for example, the leading white-collar
federation increased its membership 172 percent be­
tween 1955 and 1975, while the blue-collar federa­
tion advanced 39 percent. Adm ittedly the bluecollar LO (Swedish Federation of Trade Unions)
had already organized a m ajority of its potential


ally been viewed as a necessary evil— perhaps more
evil for an underground miner or autom obile as­
sembly worker, less evil for a teacher or bank em­
ployee, but still something to be endured in order
to obtain satisfaction elsewhere. To put it m ore ele­
gantly, work was looked on as something instru­
m ental to consumption; the essence of the work hu­
m anization movement is that work should also be
intrinsically satisfying.
Of course, there have always been some w ork­
ers— many professionals such as doctors or teach­
ers, for example— who view their work as a pleas­
ure in itself; these same people may have a great
degree of control over their own work. Indeed,
m ost white-collar workers have generally enjoyed
m ore pleasant working conditions than blue-collar
workers (though the large-scale introduction of the
com puter has transform ed many white-collar jobs
to such a degree that it is posing many of the same
problems of routine tasks, poor prom otion oppor­
tunities, and shift work that have long troubled
m any blue-collar workers). The work hum anization
movement goes beyond pleasant working condi­
tions, however, to the dual concerns of satisfying
work and the scope of w orkers’ responsibility over
their own activities.
W hy is this new emphasis on work hum anization
developing? Once again, the great economic gains
of the post-W orld-W ar-II period are im portant. As
m ore and more employees reached at least a decent
standard of living, new needs arose. W orkers be­
came more inclined to self-expression, which often
took the form of higher job turnover, greater absen­
teeism, and refusal to perform some types of un­
pleasant work. In some countries— Sweden and
N orway were conspicuous in this respect—employ­
ers began to perceive a need to redesign work as
part of seeking new m otivations for their employ­
ees. It is no accident that tight labor m arkets pre­
vailed in these same two countries for m ost of the
postw ar period. The hard fact is that employer con­
cern with relieving work m onotony and boredom is
often a response to such pressures.
Rising levels of education, with m ore and more
employees entering the labor m arket with 2, 3, or 4
years more of schooling than their prewar counter­
parts, added to the pressure. The aspirations of
postw ar employees often exceeded those of their
prewar parents.
In many countries, the strengthening of democ­
racy and individualism— related both to greater
economic security and to the greater strength of
w orkers’ political movements after W orld W ar II—
also added to the work hum anization movement.
M ore and m ore people became aware of the inher­

ent contradiction between participating a; a full cit­
izen in political life and being treated as a highly
subordinate underling in the typically authoritarian
structures of m odem economic life. The impulse
grew to question rules and regulations imposed
from the top of the office or workshop.
Unions and the movement
Of course, trade unionism dealt with many of
these problems. In Canada, G reat Britain, and the
United States, the power of the union at the work­
place has been greater than in some European
countries, let alone those in the developing world.
But even where workplace unionization was strong,
it was essentially reactive, rarely questioning the
nature and organization of work itself. Rather,
unions reacted to the excesses of employers’ m an­
agement of work. The idea that workers should
help shape their own work, arrange or rearrange it
to allow them greater personal responsibility and
expression, was largely beyond the scope of unions
and their members.
In view of this histone reactive role of unions, it
is not surprising that where im portant work
changes have been undertaken, where m ost work
hum anization projects have been implemented, the
employer has typically taken the initiative. The role
of the union as an agent for workers reacting to em­
ployers’ actions has m ade it difficult for many
unions even to collaborate fully in this w ork.8 In
m any experiments, the employer has undertaken to
redesign jobs, rotate assignments, or establish semiautonom ous work groups in collaboration with em­
ployees but with little or no participation by the
union. Unions in Norway, Denm ark, and Sweden
have been more actively associated with these ex­
periments, but even there they have not always had
a strong, direct role at the worksite level. In these
countries, work redesigned experiments generally
proceed under an um brella agreement between toplevel union federations and employers’ associations.
In the United States, m any experiments have
been conducted in nonunionized plants, and many
unions have become convinced that the movement
is ju st another device to prevent unions from gain­
ing a foothold.9 Indeed, some anti-union consul­
tants in the United States sell so-called work hu­
m anization experiments as a device to help keep
unions out. Even here, however, some unions are
expressing interest in joint union-em ployer pro­
gram s.10
By their nature, these experiments may set off
forces that run somewhat counter to traditional
union needs and bonds. W ork reorganization de­
vices such as flexible hours, job enrichm ent, or job

storm or whim of m anagement. W ork hum aniza­
tion practitioners who ignore basic power relations
and the need for strong unions are deceiving either
themselves or the workers. It is easily overlooked
that one reason these experiments have had special
success in Norway and Sweden is th at the unions
are fully established there, and m ost employers in
those countries would scarcely be tem pted to use
work reorganization as a device to get around the
unions. Indeed, the very strength and pervasiveness
of unionization in Sweden and Norw ay reduces
open labor-m anagem ent conflict and helps create a
working consensus in labor relations that is a neces­
sary background to successful collaboration in
work hum anization.
Even those Scandinavian unions that have been
m ost identified with work reorganization have been
careful to make it but one part of their total plans
for industrial democracy. They are also concerned
with worker participation on com pany m anagement
boards, improved legislation for worker safety,
greater collective bargaining rights at the worksite,
and better sharing of wealth. These m ore tradi­
tional, power-based dem ands illustrate the continu­
ing need for adversarial relations in some fields
even while union-m anagem ent cooperation in work
hum anization develops.
The hum anization movement will probably not
make significant progress in m ost m ajor industries
in the United States until unions are m ore genu­
inely accepted by employers, especially in the pri­
vate sector. The kind of consensus atm osphere in
which work hum anization efforts flourish is often
lacking in this country. A t present, continued ex­
periments in individual companies and in the public
sector are more realistic goals.
W ork hum anization, in any case, should not be
viewed as a cure-all. M any groups of employees
prefer their old work routines, which they find com ­
fortable; these groups should be accom m odated in
proposed reorganization plans. But for millions of
other employees, the drive for greater responsibil­
ity, meaning, and significance in their work presents
an exciting challenge to workers and their unions.

enlargem ent may establish ties between individual
workers and the company that may differ from the
broader collective appeals on which unions are
based. Unions tend to concentrate on establishing
uniform, collective rules and protections. Clearly,
these new hum anization plans will call for more
flexibility in job titles, work hours, and probably
pay scales and rules. Indeed, one of the unions’
tasks will be to negotiate the workers’ share of the
increased productivity that often flows from work
reorganization. Unions m ust find ways to meet
these challenges. If the economic, educational, indi­
vidualistic, and democratic trends that led to inter­
est in work hum anization are likely to continue,
then unions as well as employers m ust adapt to re­
spond to the new interests of m odern workers.
W hite-collar unions are in a special strategic po­
sition to meet the challenges of the work hum aniza­
tion issue. Their members are likely to be better ed­
ucated, more conceptually minded, and more
readily interested in these programs. They also, in
m any instances, work in smaller groups than many
blue-collar workers, which also facilitates work hu­
m anization experiments.
Case reports by social scientists of work hum an­
ization experiments show that white-collar employ­
ees accept such projects more quickly and show
greater initiative in shaping work redesign. In one
branch bank in Norway where new com puter oper­
ations were being installed, for example, a work hu­
m anization specialist found that the bank’s employ­
ees needed little help in developing systems for
wider participation. Several other cases like this
have been reported among white-collar employees.11
W ork redesign should be a participatory process,
not one dom inated by outside experts, and it
should provide a learning process that can lead to
career advancement. These goals accord with the
upw ard aspirations of many white-collar workers.
Pow er relations
As work hum anization efforts continue, unions
will have to ensure that they do not become sham
program s that may blow away at the first economic

'Yves Sabolo, The Service Industries (Geneva, International Labor
Office, 1975).
2 Earl L. McFarland, Jr., “Employment Growth in Services: Mexico,
1950-1969” (Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1974).
3 Japan Labor Bulletin, Jan. 1, 1976, p. 8.
4 Employment and Training Report of the President, 1976 (Washing­
ton, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976), table E-9, p. 336.
5 Sabolo, The Service Industries, p. 121.
6 D. W. Rawson, “A Note on Manual and Non-Manual Union

Membership in Australia,” The Journal of Industrial Relations, Decem­
ber 1974, pp. 394-97.
7 Robert Price and George S. Bain, “Union Growth Revisited:
1948-1974, in Perspective,” June, 1976, reprinted in British Journal oj
Industrial Relations, November 1976.
8 See generally R. Tchobanian, “Trade Unions and the Humaniza­
tion of Work,” International Labor Review, March 1975, pp. 199-217;
and Ursula Engelen-Kefer, “Humanization of Work in the Federal
Republic of Germany: A Labor Oriented Approach,” International
Labor Review, March-April 1976, pp. 221-AX.


of the Rockwell International Corporation, see Rockwell-Standard
Division, Rockwell International press release, R5-85, Aug. 12, 1974,
“Rockwell-UAW Announce Innovative Commitment at Battle Creek
For the Norway case, see Max Elden, “Bank Employees Begin to
Participate in Studying and Changing their Organization,” paper pre­
sented to Third International Conference Self-Management, Washing­
ton, D.C., June 10-13, 1976. At this conference, several other groups
made oral reports on union-management humanization of work
projects in offices.

9 For a U.S. union view of this, see William W. Winpisinger, “Job
Satisfaction: A Union Response,” The American Federationist, Febru­
ary 1973, pp. 8-10.
10 See Ted Mills, “Altering the social structure in coal mining: a case
study,” Monthly Labor Review, October 1976, pp. 3-10. A description
of the quality of work demonstration project involving a Cleveland,
Ohio, plant of the Eaton Corporation and the United Auto Workers is
contained in Recent Initiatives in Labor-Management Cooperation
(Washington, National Center for Productivity and Quality of Working
Life, 1976), pp. 37-42. For an announcement and description of an­
other important UAW quality of work program, this one with a plant

UAW-FotcEemployee involvement
A work force concept for mow amd the future
W hat it is . . .
Employee Involvement

(E l)

is the sum of many parts.


It’s a process in which local Unions and local Managements
work together to jointly create a work climate where employees
can achieve work satisfaction by directing their ingenuity, im­
agination, and creativity toward improving their work and
the overall work environment.


It’s a means of providing employees the opportunity to
actively identify and resolve problems related to their work.


It’s part sound management, part Union-Management
cooperation, part human relations, part employee awareness,
part communications . . . and basically good business.

o It’s a Management and Union style that promotes all of this.

And in a very real sense, Employee Involvement is a three-way
partnership—a recognition by employees, the Union, and
Management that their common interests can be served best
when there is common effort.
----- From A Handbook on the UAW-Ford
Process fo r Local Unions and Management
issued by the UAW-Ford
National Joint Committee
on Employee Involvement,


Workers morale in Japan

Joseph Mire
In December 1971, the Public Employment Se­
curity Office undertook an “employees life con­
sciousness survey,” covering some 2,800 workers in
2,200 establishments, each with at least 30 employ­
ees. The sample covered nine major industries:
mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale and
retail trade, finance and insurance, real estate, trans­
port and communication, electricity and gas, and
water services. The workers were asked to state their
views on the contents of their jobs, human relations,
work environment, and what aspects of-their life they
considered most worth living for.- The methods used
were personal interviews of workers at the plant site.
On job content, 8.9 percent of the workers were
considerably satisfied, 45.8 percent slightly satisfied,
28.8 percent slightly dissatisfied, and 7.1 percent
greatly dissatisfied.3 The following tabulation shows
the divergence of views between younger and older
workers— the 20—24 and 45—54 age groups:

D uring 1968, 1969, and 1970, the Bureau of Labor
Standards of the Ministry of Labor in Japan con­
ducted, by means of a questionnaire, six studies on
job adaptation of young workers. About 2,000
workers were asked whether they considered their
job worthwhile. Only a little over half responded in
the affirmative, and the remainder replied either in
the negative or by saying they “did not know.” The
following tabulation shows the changes recorded by
the six studies1:
Job is worthwhile . .
Job is not
w o r th w h ile ..........
D o not k n o w ..........




4 th

5 th

6 th













Disturbing as these figures were, the Ministry of
Labor was even more alarmed by the fact that 38
percent of those included in the survey at the begin­
ning had to be eliminated from the tabulation be­
cause they had left their place of employment during
the project period. The proportion of those chang­
ing jobs rose from 14.7 percent of the total in the
first year to 32 percent in the second, and to no less
than 49.2 percent in the third. This turnover hardly
signified workers’ contentment with their jobs.

W ork
environm ent
A ge
2 0 -2 4 4 5 -5 4
satisfied .
satisfied .

Joseph Mire is an econom ist formerly on the staff o f the
American Federation of State, County, and M unicipal E m ­
ployees. He has also served as adjunct professor at the
School o f International Services o f the American University,
W ashington, D.C. This article stems from a field study under­
taken with the assistance o f a grant from the Ford Founda­

A ge
2 0 -2 4 4 5 -5 4





























Concerning the “spheres of life worth living for,”
the answers of those in the 20-24 and 45-54 age

From the Review of June 1975

H um an
A ge
2 0 -2 4 4 5 -5 4


groups were as follows (in percent of the groups’
totals): Work and/or recognition by others— 37.6
and 45.2; family— 7.1 and 33.4; leisure— 39.8 and
9.0; civic service— 3.5 and 5.3; others— 13.0 and
3.7; none— 7.0 and 2.6.
Spurred by the very disquieting results of this
survey— which clearly reinforced the findings of the
previous, the 3-year study— the Ministry of Labor
sponsored, in October 1972, a roundtable confer­
ence on “new visions of working life.” The confer­
ence concluded that improvements in the living
environment of workers had not kept pace with the
advance of the gross national product and income,
and called for prompt efforts to reorganize work so
as to eliminate monotony and the resultant mental
strain. Shortly thereafter, the Ministry of Labor sent
a questionnaire to some 700 business and union
leaders, as well as other persons versed in labor
problems, asking them, among other things, to list
the priority of labor issues today and as they ex­
pected them to be in the 1980’s. There was over­
whelming agreement among these leaders that, in
that decade, wages and other working conditions
would decline in importance and job satisfaction
would come to the forefront. The Ministry viewed
this agreement as a hopeful sign that proposals to
come to grips with job monotony, psychological
stress, and increased job simplification will be forth­
coming in due time and favorably received.4 A spe­
cial agency, The National Institute of Vocational Re­
search, is now collecting pertinent information on
job satisfaction, trying to develop a framework for
an ideal relationship between the worker and his
job. To that end the Institute is looking into job
restructuring, attempting to forecast the structure of
the future labor force and trying to “identify the
relations between personal life on the one hand and
organizations, value systems, level of education, and
the financial situation peculiar to a specific occupa­
tional group on the other.” 5
The old system under stress
Growing job dissatisfaction is a serious factor in
the current changes in Japan’s industrial relations
system based on a unique employer-employee rela­
tionship. It both reflects and contributes to those
changes. And it puts into question some of the cher­
ished traditions of that system, traditions that could
be described in practical terms as lifetime employ­
ment, promotion from within, enterprise unions, and
a wage system based on age seniority.
The tradition of lifetime employment is part of a
management philosophy which views the plant as
an extension of the family. It makes the employer
responsible not only for providing employment but

for the “whole employee,” that is, his social and
economic needs within the plant and without. Fear
of unemployment and other insecurities are thus
supposed to be substantially reduced. Hiring policies
of companies are directed toward the recruitment of
graduates from junior and senior high schools, with
the understanding that everybody would start at the
workshop level and work his way up, and that no
hiring would be done from the outside. Thus, pro­
motional opportunities are greatly enhanced, and
workers doing monotonous, dull, and generally unin­
spiring jobs may well consider their work assignments
to be only the initial, passing stage in their career
and, consequently, less onerous and dissatisfying.
Many industry spokesmen claim that it would be un­
likely for workers above the age of 30 to be still
working on the assembly line since by then they
would, normally, have moved into some supervisory
position. Workers also derive a sense of importance
from the efforts of management to solicit their views
on a wide range of problems concerning production
and their jobs.6
A concomitant of the Japanese manpower policy
is the investment of large amounts of time and
money in (a) identifying individual capabilities of
all employees, manual and white-collar; and (b)
introducing constant on-the-job training and learning
programs. The latter allow a more flexible use of
the labor force to meet irregular peak periods, and
if, as expected, employees stay in the same enterprise
for their whole working life, both the workers and
the company will be able to reap the benefit of such
training and learning.
The upward adjustment of wages according to age
seniority is based on the rationale that with age and
length of service come greater skill and experience.
Such a policy, it is held, reduces changes of favorit­
ism, inevitable under a merit system, which has to
depend largely on individual judgements by super­
visors. Its most conspicuous disadvantage is the
tendency to overpay older workers at the expense
of younger, adding to the relatively greater dissatis­
faction of the latter group in the labor force.
Indirectly related to wage payments by age seni­
ority is another tradition— compulsory retirement at
age 55. This goes back to a time when average life
expectancy was close to that age, but the practice is
now being continued because keeping workers be­
yond age 55 would entail further wage increases at
a time when the workers productivity is thought to
be on the decline.
The extent to which these and other features of
the Japanese industrial relations system are still op­
erative today is a matter of much debate. Most peo­
ple knowledgeable on the subject agree that the sys120

tem is experiencing severe strains. The shift from a
labor surplus economy to labor shortages during the
last two decades has weakened the attraction of life­
time employment and increased the mobility of labor,
especially among younger workers. Paralleling the
trend in other industrialized countries, young people
of Japan today have better education and, therefore,
higher aspirations. They are no longer satisfied just to
have a job but want opportunities for growth, chal­
lenge, and satisfaction. Also, some industries, such
as electronic computers and electrical machinery,
have been forced to resort to outside hiring since the
needed labor could not be recruited through tradi­
tional channels. This, in turn, has reduced promo­
tional opportunities for those starting, as usual, at the
work shop level. Still other industries had to raise
their hiring standards because of technological
changes, with more jobs going to university gradu­
ates, whose ratio in the labor force has gone up 50
percent between 1959 and 1968.7 Finally, the role
and importance of the enterprise unions, compared
with the national federations, is changing, with the
latter now playing a rather dominant part in wage
bargaining through the annual “spring offensive.”
For the first time the union federations are also ask­
ing for the establishment of national, uniform mini­
mum wage standards.8
In sum, the peculiar characteristics of the Japa­
nese industrial relations system have been shaken,
but not eliminated. Its traditions will continue in
some weakened form at least for the foreseeable
future. But job discontent will undoubtedly produce
profound modifications in the system.
Umioms’ search for remedy
Both management and unions seem acutely aware
of the need to come to grips with the growing dislike
and disrepute in which work in the manufacturing
industries has fallen, particularly among young peo­
ple, and the communal environment which prevails
in many enterprises seems well suited for cooperative
arrangements to restructure the work organization.
Company spokesmen generally acknowledge the sup­
port received from enterprise unions. In a few in­
stances, the unions have, in fact, taken the initiative
and proposed to management measures to improve
the working environment. Some of their suggestions
are: To eliminate all distinctions in work standards
and benefits between blue- and white-collar workers9;
to decentralize authority; and to give the enterprise
union more say on promotions and training pro­
Unions7 approaches to the problem vary consider­
ably. Sohyo, closely allied with the Japan Socialist
Party and committed to nationalization of industry,

is opposed to any form of workers’ participation in
industry, viewing it as a management tool. Its tradi­
tional responses to work monotony and the pressures
of the assembly line are higher pay, shorter working
hours, and more and longer rest periods. Its program
aims essentially at political objectives.10
Domei, close to the more moderate Japan Social
Democratic Party, deplores the lack of adequate
information on job restructuring but seems willing to
join in management efforts to find solutions through
job improvement programs. At its 1973 convention,
Domei issued a call to its affiliates to focus their
efforts on workplace activities and to cooperate—
and where necessary, to initiate— work improvement
projects. The noticeable drift of young workers into
the service industries has convinced the union’s lead­
ership that more pay and shorter hours alone would
not solve the problem, and that something would
have to be done to meet the psychological needs of
the young generation.
The Automobile Workers’ Union recently adopted
an action program which puts the demand for a bet­
ter quality of life in second place, right next to the
fight against inflation. This was done in response to
polls taken by the union. Its staff has been trying to
formulate details of specific union goals on job dis­
satisfaction, but the task proved too big to handle.
Job satisfaction, the union has come to believe, is a
matter which must be attacked individually, not in­
stitutionally. No single measure will meet all situa­
tions, and the workers themselves should be involved
in finding appropriate solutions. The union did de­
termine, on a tentative basis, that each job should
have at least three components: a long range goal;
a system of rewards and promotions; and an oppor­
tunity for social contacts.
The Federation of Electrical Machine Workers
Unions favors participation in management on the
floor level but is skeptical about workers’ serving on
boards of management. The union strongly supports
joint labor-management consultation committees and
has recommended participation in them to its affili­
ates, The International Metal Workers FederationJapan Council, which represents some 2,000 unions
with a total of about 1,402,000 members and cuts
across jurisdictional lines of all major federations,
has'set up a special study committee on industrial
democracy and is planning to hold a nationwide con­
ference on job improvement programs in the summer
of 1975.
Employers9 efforts
On the company side, interest— and experimenta­
tion— in job restructuring is apparently on a sub­
stantial scale, though no one at this- time seems to be

able to provide a complete accounting of what is
actually being done. Some examples can be cited
The Iron and Steel Federation, a membership
organization of 54 steel companies and 2 associa­
tions of iron and steel producers, has pioneered in
the establishment of voluntary autonomous work
groups— so-called J-K committees—within its affili­
ates. Their purposes are to improve work quality,
lower production costs, and generally improve work­
ers’ morale. J-K activities are carried out by small
groups of workers, who elect leaders from among
themselves and set their own goals. Workers share
in the gains of productivity, and the programs are
considered to be effective antidotes to job monot­
ony.11 The Iron and Steel Federation serves as a
catalyst and recorder of experiences on job improve­
ment programs. Its basic labor policy calls for the
elimination of the conveyor belt system, improve­
ment of communication between workers and super­
visory personnel, and work restructuring based on a
careful analysis of each worker’s ability in relation
to his job assignment.12
Mitsubishi, a diversified producer of a wide range
of electrical machinery, was forced by circumstances
to grapple with job monotony and problems on the
assembly line. The company, employing some 57,000
people in 21 plants, has expanded rapidly and has
had severe difficulties in recruiting and keeping labor.
Union and management agreed that something had
to be done to make work more attractive. Job en­
largement was tried first. The time allotted for certain
operations on the assembly line was changed from
3 minutes to 10, and workers were given additional
responsibilities. Absenteeism dropped immediately,
but not for long. After the novelty of the experiment
had passed, absenteeism was back to its former level,
apparently because the added work assignments were
equally monotonous. The company then shifted to
antonomous work groups, composed of 10 workers
each. They were given weekly or monthly production

goals but otherwise were fully in charge of plans and
efforts to achieve them. Hence, their discretion cov­
ered planning, execution, and checking— the plando-see responsibility. This approach proved very
effective, raising production and quality. Job dissatis­
faction, the company feels, is more serious among
female than male workers, because the latter move
up rather quickly to more demanding jobs for which
female workers lack either skill or interest. On sug­
gestion of the union, the company is currently making
a feasibility study of flexi-time.
Sony Electric Corp., a worldwide multinational
concern, prides itself on its role as a pathfinder in the
use of new technology, in developing new markets, as
well as in its labor relation policy. A statement of the
company’s chairman, Masura Ibuka, “Nothing makes
a man happier than doing the work he enjoys,” is
displayed conspicuously in all plants and is impressed
again and again upon all supervisory employees.
There is constant effort to put the right man in the
right job and to bring out the best in each employee.
The company has tried the whole roster of job im­
provement instrumentalities in its farflung empire,
but has not yet come to any definitive conclusions
about their respective merits and is, therefore, reluc­
tant to disclose details. Each of the new techniques
has worked in some places but not in others, and the
company is still trying to find out why. The very
speed with which the company is applying new tech­
nology has also made some of the work restructuring
programs obsolete.

1 For a detailed report on the studies, see R osei Jiho
(Labor Adm inistration R eview ), April 1974. (The journal
is published by the Labor Law Association o f Japan.)

5 Som e F acts and Figures, June 1973. (Published by the
Japan N ational Institute of Vocational Research.)

2 Other questions of the survey pertained to general life,
clothing, housing, food, welfare facilities, earnings, recrea­
tion and leisure, hours of work, culture, and savings.
3 Remaining percentages were either those who answered
“hard to say” or did not answer.
4 Shin-ichi Takezaw'a, “The Quality o f Working L ife,” a
paper presented at the annual meeting of the International
Council for the Quality o f Working Life, at Tokyo, Aug.
6 -9 , 1974.

The union and management responses mentioned
here are indicative, but not necessarily representative,
of current efforts in Japan to deal with workers’
morale. It stands to reason that a country which has
few natural resources would particularly treasure
and husband its human resources. The results are
great efforts to consider workers’ values and aspira­
tions; to avoid underutilization; to involve workers
in production problems; and to create for workers a
satisfactory work environment.

6 In turn, managem ent expects from its em ployees,
loyalty, good performance, and full cooperation; a free
hand to modernize the plant and to introduce new equip­
ment; and a high degree o f identification of workers’ in­
terests with those o f the enterprise. Professor Shin-ichi
Takezawa o f Rikkyo U niversity in Tokyo credits tradi­
tional Japanese em ploym ent policies with creating an excep­
tionally human bond in industry which makes it difficult for
functional and class divisions to be perpetuated. See his
“The Quality of Working Life” (cited ab ove); see also


means o f coordinating wage demands and strategies in
order to minimize disagreements among unions and m axi­
mize results.

Robert E. Cole, The Japanese Blue C ollar (Berkeley, U n i­
versity o f California Press, 1971), p. 230. On the unique
Japanese em ployer-em ployee relationship, see Robert Evans,
Jr., “Japan’s labor econom y— prospect for the future,”
M on th ly L abor R eview , October 1972, pp. 3—8.
7 Shun-Ichiro U m etani, Japan L abor Bulletin, Oct. 1,

9 Some of these distinctions pertained not only to work
standards but to what clothes and ties workers were al­
lowed to wear on their jobs, as well as in their hem es.
10 Japan L abor Bulletin, Oct. 1, 1974.

8 L abor N ew s, Jan. 9, 1975, published by International
M etal Workers Federation, Japan Council.
The “spring offensive” is the concentration o f wage nego­
tiations into the 3 spring months. First proposed by Sohyo
in 1955, it is now follow ed by all major federations as a*123

n Takazawa, op. cit.
M easures taken by the Japanese steel industry to im ­
prove the m orale of the w orkers (The Japan Iron and Steel
Federation, T o k y o ), M ay 1974.

Corporate goals in Japan
1. A corporation exists for the people who work for it.
2. A corporation exists for serving customers who buy its products
and services.
3. A corporation serves its shareholders.
The goals are similar to ones for American corporations except for
the reversal of priorities.
Because a corporation serves its own people, discharging or laying
off employees due to a declining economy is out of the question. In a
recession, the first consideration is shortening of work hours, diver­
sification to downstream product lines. In return, employees develop
a sense of sharing the destiny of the corporation with management.
This sentiment of the employees can be shown by the number of sug­
gestions a company receives from its employees. The average is 20 and
the acceptance ratio by management is 85 percent, which favorably
compares with the American average of 5 and acceptance of 10 per­
----- J oji A rai , Manager, U.S. Office,
Japan Productivity Center
From an address, “ Productivity Management: Comparison of
U .S./Japan Approach: Overview,” at the
State University of New York, Buffalo, July 23, 1982


Worker participation
in West German industry

D a v id T. F ish er

Council into the laws of the Federal Republic. The
position and function of the Councils were redefined
by the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1972,
which enumerates the rights of the individual worker
and authorizes the freely elected Works Council to
guard these rights. These rights include the rights of
the worker to be informed about matters concerning
his job, to make suggestions concerning his work, to
see all files that are kept about him, and to appeal
management decisions that he considers unfair. The
Works Council also has important prerogatives con­
cerning the hiring and firing of employees.
Although Works Councils are an irritation to
management in the conduct of daily business, their
usefulness as an instrument of conflict resolution
cannot be denied even by the most conservative busi­
nessmen. The Works Council serves very effectively
as a pressure valve for employee discontent and often
brings critical matters to the attention of manage­
ment before they have a chance to get out of hand.
In addition, the Works Council tends to have a
vested interest in the well-being of the plant and thus
often acts more responsibly than some managers
might. For these reasons, the Works Council is gen­
erally accepted, despite occasional partisan grum­
blings about its many responsibilities.

Industrial relations in West Germany have been dis­
tinguished by cooperation and compromise, partly
because of the tradition of employee participation in
management. The Codetermination Act of 1976 is
the latest in a series of laws which extends the influ­
ence of labor in industrial decisionmaking. German
industrialists have angered union leaders by chal­
lenging the constitutionality of this law; the case has
not yet been decided by the courts. To illustrate the
significance of these events, this report traces the
growth of codetermination in Germany during the
last 30 years.
Much of the history of labor-management rela­
tions in West Germany involves the extension and
development of codetermination, or the institutional­
ized participation of workers in management. Codetermination has evolved on both the plant level and
the enterprise level.
Codetermination on the plant level is realized
through the Works Council and is generally oriented
toward the increased participation of the individual
worker in his immediate labor environment. This
type of codetermination was first sanctioned by law
in 1920.1 After being suppressed during the Nazi
period, Works Councils reappeared during the Al­
lied occupation with a strengthened and expanded
role. The Labor-Management Relations Act of 1952
(sometimes literally translated as the Works Consti­
tution Act) incorporated the institution of the Works

Codetermination on the enterprise level does not
enjoy such widespread acceptance. This form of
codetermination seeks to expand the voice of labor in
the governing boards of large corporations. These

David T. Fisher is the manager of the computer department at Lummus
GmbH in Wiesbaden, West Germany.

From the Review of May 1978


companies have a peculiar structure—two boards
run the company. A Supervisory Board, elected by
the stockholders, in turn appoints a Board of Execu­
tive Directors. No one may serve on both at one time.
The Board of Executive Directors runs the daily
business of the company, while the Supervisory
Board concerns itself with general strategic ques­
tions. The goal of the second type of codetermination
is to increase the number of Supervisory Board mem­
bers who are either elected by the employees or ap­
pointed by the labor union.
Opponents of this concept fear that an increase in
labor representatives beyond a certain point would
reorient decisionmaking: labor approval would be
necessary to appoint any executive directors, making
it difficult, if not impossible, for management to
champion the owners’ interests. According to propo­
nents of the scheme, the interests of employees and
management should not often represent a zero-sum
game and in those cases where they do, the interests
of labor should tend to be controlling. Moreover, the
proponents contend that large enterprises, by virtue
of their amassed capital resources, have such an im­
pact on societal well-being that it is unwise and irre­
sponsible to allow them to be subjected to the will of
a handful of major stockholders, often large banks.2
Prior to World War II, enterprise codetermination
was unknown in Germany. During the Allied occu­
pation, however, the labor movement was able to
effect a codetermination policy in the coal and steel
companies in the Ruhr District. Aided by the Allied
forces, who depended on the unions as a source of
“denazified” German leaders, the labor movement
succeeded in implementing the following structure in
the Supervisory Boards of the industries:3

Union and Works

7 members

7 members

Stalem ate

Between 1952 and 1967, labor was unable to make
any further progress in the expansion of codetermi­
nation. In 1967, the Christian Democratic Union
was obliged to form the “Grand Coalition” with the
Social Democratic Party, marking the first time that
the Socialists had a say in the operation of the Bonn
government. To achieve some basis for consensus
between the two rather unlikely partners, it was
agreed to postpone discussion of codetermination in
the German parliament for the duration of that legis­
lative period (until 1969). Instead, a commission of
nine university professors headed by Professor Kurt
Biedenkopf (later elected Secretary-General of the
Christian Democratic Union) was appointed to
study the issue. In addition to the nine professors
representing several political persuasions, the gov­
ernment appointed three business and three union
advisers to assist the commission.

I-------- -|---------- 1
1 neutral member
Supervisory Board
(15 members)
Board of Executive Directors

Labor and owners each nominate seven members;
they then must agree on a neutral 15th member. It
is impossible for a simple majority of shareholders to
nominate any member of the Board of Executive
Directors. This represents the highwater mark of

enterprise codetermination, all subsequent efforts by
labor have been to extend this arrangement to the
rest of German industry.
When Konrad Adenauer’s Christian Democratic
Union took over the administration of West Ger­
many at the end of the occupation, it displayed no
intention of transforming this arrangement into law.
A very credible threat of a general strike, however,
caused the government to retreat and enact a special
law in 1951 giving legal effect to this scheme, but
only in the coal and steel industries. A desire to
maintain the solidarity achieved by Adenauer is
probably the reason that conservatives have never
challenged the legality of this statute.4
To show that enterprise codetermination would
not become a general principle, the Adenauer gov­
ernment passed the Enterprise Organization Law of
1952, which regulated the structure of Supervisory
Boards outside of the coal and steel industries. Ac­
cording to this law, shareholders retained a twothirds majority in the 15-member Supervisory
Board. Unlike the 1951 law, this legislation does not
provide the union or the Works Council with a direct
voice in the nomination of the five labor representa­
tives. The owners’ wishes clearly prevail in the deci­
sionmaking of the enterprise. Most industrialists re­
gard this arrangement as the optimal solution to the
problem of labor participation. They feel that the
predominance of stockholders in the Supervisory
Board is a fair and equal balance to the predomi­
nance of labor outside the Supervisory Board (in the
operations of the Works Council).
The history of codetermination since 1952 has
been a sort of dialectical struggle. Unions battle for
general acceptance of the coal and steel model, while
industrialists seek to widen the scope of the 1952 law.


The Biedenkopf Commission presented its report
in January 1970 to the newly elected Social D em o­
cratic Party Chancellor Willy Brandt. The Bieden­
kopf R eport held that both existing models were
unsatisfactory. The coal and steel model was viewed
as biased in favor of labor, while the 1952 law gave
stockholders too m uch influence. The Commission
recom mended a Supervisory Board of 12 members,
half of which would be elected by the stockholders
and four by the employees. The remaining two would
have to be agreed upon by the other members of the
Board. The Commission assumed that the final
breakdown would be seven stockholder representa­
tives and five employee representatives. A lthough
stockholders would have a slight edge, provisions
were included to induce unanim ity to decisionmak­
ing. (For example, under certain circumstances the
overruled labor representatives would have the op­
tion to disclose the conflict to the com pany’s em­
ployees or to the public.) By increasing the num ber
of labor representatives, the Commission hoped to
generate a larger com m itm ent by labor to the well­
being of the enterprise. By m aintaining a stockholder
majority, however, the principles of consumer sove­
reignty and profitability would be preserved.
The recom mendations of the Biedenkopf R eport
were never adopted by any of the three m ajor politi­
cal parties. In fact, all now advocate some form of
parity between labor and capital. The im portance of
the Biedenkopf Report is that the unanim ity of the
members of the Commission lent great credence to
the objectivity of its recommendations. The Com m is­
sion’s guidelines, therefore, remain a yardstick
against which alternative proposals are frequently
W hen the Social Dem ocratic Party took over the
governm ent in 1969 in coalition with the Free D em o­
cratic Party, one of its top priorities was the expan­
sion of codeterm ination. The Social D em ocrats
chose to ignore the recom mendations of the Bieden­
kopf Commission. In a party congress in Saarbrucken in 1971, they came out clearly on the side
of the unions in advocating the extension of the coal
and steel model to all sections of the economy. The
Young Socialist faction was prepared to go consider­
ably further, along the lines of the Yugoslavian
model of w orkers’ self-administration.
The Social D em ocratic Party, however, was (and
is) dependent upon the support of the Free D em o­
crats for the success of its legislative program. In its
party congress in Freiburg in the fall of 1971, the
Free D em ocrats considered the issue of codeterm ina­
tion. M ost representatives tended toward some type
of parity model. A fter heated debate, the following
scheme was adopted in a very close vote:5




6 members

2 members

4 members

^----------- Supervisory Board------------^
(12 members)
Board of Executive Directors
This model makes the distinction for the first time
between high- and low-level employees. The idea is
that high-level employees will often vote with the
stockholders on key issues, thus m aintaining the
owners’ control but at the same time providing for
equal representation of labor and capital. However,
the problem of accurately and unambiguously defin­
ing th e group of high-level workers has caused skep­
ticism am ong labor and capital about the practical
effects of this plan.


The coalition of the Social D em ocrats and the
Free D em ocrats was renewed after the elections of
1972. The new governm ent resolved to work out a
comprom ise model and implem ent it in the 1972-76
legislative period. After a year of secret negotiations,
the coalition parties announced their comm on pro­
gram in January 1974.
The compromise package worked out by the coali­
tion was the m ost complicated model that had been
suggested. A n overview is presented in the following
diagram :6
Shareholders’ meeting


10 members

Group of electors


10 members including
one high-level employee
----Supervisory Board---(20 members)
Board of Executive Directors

Ten of the 20 members of the Supervisory Board
would be directly elected at the shareholders’ m eet­
ing. The labor representatives would be indirectly
elected by groups of electors nom inated by the em­
ployees. The labor representatives m ust include three
union representatives and one high-level employee.
A chairm an and deputy chairm an would be elected
from among the members. The model provides for

the following mechanism when a majority decision
cannot be reached:7

to the number of employees in the enterprise. The
possible configurations are illustrated below:9
__________ Number

of employees_________
2,000-10,000 10,000-20,000 Over 20,000

1. If no majority can be achieved to elect the chair­
man and deputy chairman of the Supervisory Board,
each group of representatives nominates one candi­
date. The two candidates alternate for 2 years each as
chairman and deputy chairman. The question of who
serves the first 2-year term is decided, if necessary, by
2. If the Supervisory Board fails several times to
muster a majority to appoint members of the Execu­
tive Board, the chairman or the deputy chairman
makes a proposal to the shareholders’ meeting, whose
decision then becomes binding.
3. Other problems for which a decision of the Su­
pervisory Board is required but cannot be achieved
can be decided by a tie-breaking vote of the chairman,
but only if the Supervisory Board expressly grants
this right to the chairman. If it does not, there is no
mechanism to break the deadlock.

R epresentatives of:
Capital ..............
W hite- and
blue- collar
em p lo y ees....
e x e c u tiv e s....
U n ion ................

This model pleased no one except its political crea­
tors. The unions were against it, because of the neces­
sity of including one high-level employee in the labor
group and because the stockholders’ meeting would
have the final say in the appointment of executive
directors. Industry representatives also opposed it,
seeing a predominance of labor representation that
would make it impossible to function according to
market imperatives. They.feared that the compli­
cated processes would paralyze the decisionmaking
capabilities of the Supervisory Board.8 Because of
this opposition from strong and vocal interest
groups, the coalition of Social Democrats and Free
Democrats was unable to introduce its model—de­
spite its majority in the parliament.
Current situation

After more than 2 additional years of rigorous
debate, the Codetermination Act of 1976 was
adopted by the German parliament in the spring of
1976 and was formally put into effect on July 1, 1976.
The general outlines of the coalition model re­
mained, but they were augmented by a number of
provisions designed to dampen the opposition of the
various interest groups. The act covers all limited
liability companies outside of the coal and steel in­
dustries which have more than 2,000 employees;
smaller companies continue to be covered by the
one-third rule of the 1952 law.
The basic goal of parity in the Supervisory Board
remains, but the labor side is now classified into three
different groups: workers, salaried employees, and
senior executives.
The size of the Supervisory Board varies according











In each case, the members of the Board are elected
either directly by the employees or by electors which
have been elected by the employees. The law suggests
direct election in enterprises with less than 8,000
employees and indirect election through electors in
enterprises with more than 8,000 employees. The
employees of an enterprise can determine which
method they prefer, however, through a direct vote.
Union leaders tend to favor the indirect procedure
while conservatives prefer the direct method.10
The chairman and vice chairman of the Supervi­
sory Board are elected by a two-thirds majority of
the Board. If this majority is not obtained, the share­
holders elect the chairman and labor elects the vice
chairman. The chairman may cast deciding votes in
all issues before the Supervisory Board that cannot
be resolved in the first round of voting.
As in the other plans, the Supervisory Board ap­
points the Executive Board; appointment requires a
two-thirds majority. If this is not achieved, a media­
tion committee with parity composition proposes
candidates, who can be chosen by a simple majority
of the Supervisory Board. Only if this fails can the
chairman exercise his tie-breaking right. The Execu­
tive Board must include a “labor director” who is
responsible for personnel and social affairs. Al­
though the law states that this individual must have
the confidence of labor, he is selected by the same
procedures as all other Executive Board members.
Companies were given 2 years from July 1, 1976,
to adjust to the new law. German law also provides
for the possibility of contesting any new law before .
the Supreme Court in Karlsruhe within 1 year of its
passage. This is exactly what the Confederation of
German Employers’ Associations did in June 1977,
just weeks before the deadline expired.11
To ascertain what options are available for Ger­
many, it is worth examining the proposal of the op­
position Christian Democratic Union, first suggested
at its party congress in Hamburg in November 1973.
The Christian Democrats also called for equal repre­
sentation of labor and capital. The main elements of
their program are as follows:

1. Shareholders and labor each nominate half of
the members of the Supervisory Board.
2. The chairman of the Supervisory Board is
elected by a two-thirds majority of the Board. If this
cannot be achieved, the chairman is elected by the

In case of deadlocks, the chairman of the Super­
visory Board casts the deciding vote.

Time will tell which—if either—of these models
for worker participation will ultimately prevail in
West Qermany.

-FOOTNOTES1 Dr. Wolfgang Heintzeler, The Codetermination Problem in Western
Germany (London, Aims of Industry Publications, 1974), p. 2.

8 For the typical view of German industrialists, see an interview with
the late Hanns Martin Schleyer in “Die Spielraeume werden enger,” Der
Spiegel, No. 24, June 6, 1977, p. 40.

2 Unlike in the United States, German banks are allowed to hold stock
directly, and therefore exercise a degree of control and influence over
industrial enterprises which might seem excessive to one reared in the
American tradition of economic liberalism.

9 “Mit dem Fuss in der Tuer,” Wirtschaftswoche, No. 3, Jan. 6 1978,
p. 18.
10 For typical views on this issue see “Gefaehrliche Tauschgeschaefte,”
an interview with Philipp von Bismarck in Wirtschaftswoche, No. 3, Jan.
13 1978, p. 19, for the conservative view and “Lueckenhaft und ungereimt” by Karl Hauenschild in the same issue, p. 23, for the union

3 Heintzeler, Codetermination, p.6.
4 It must be stressed that the conservatives never pretended to be in
favor of this arrangement. They saw it as the price that had to be paid
at the time for an anti-Communist consensus.

'1 For the impact of this event on German industrial relations see the
following articles in Die Zeit, No. 29, July 8, 1977: “So verhaelt sich kein
Partner,” p. 17; “Zankapfel Mitbestimmung,” p. 17; “Das dicke Ende
kommt noch,” p. 18; and “In letzter Minute,” p. 18.

5 Heintzeler, Codetermination, p. 15.
6 Heintzeler, Codetermination, p. 16.
7 Heintzeler, Codetermination, p. 17.

Where does participation start?
Beginning at the bottom end of the spectrum, we ask:
Is a suggestion box or occasional inquiry by a manager
enough to be considered employee participation? On
balance, the answer seems negative for the following
reasons. Systems which work via a suggestion box or
other bureaucratic channel not allowing for adult, faceto-face discussion of the proposal between employee
and manager tend to preserve the identification of em­
ployee as someone soley managed and ruled. Em­
ployees do not become co-managers; there is no regular
weekly or monthly consultation between them (or their
chosen representatives) and higher level managers who
are making decisions. Employees are not even present
when the decisions about their proposals are made and
so have no way of knowing why it was rejected, altered,
or accepted. The motivational effects of such irregular,
impersonal, and individual consultations are not condu­
cive to fostering further group self-govement... .Taken
together, these reasons make it necessary to exclude

such forms. They lie, apparently, below the threshold
where regular participation can be a self-sustaining sys­
tem, which was our first criterion. . . .
A second problem occurs at what we have identified
as the threshold of democratic participation. Below
that line employees and managers do consult on certain
decisions, but it is usually the manager who determines
which issues are discussed in the first place, and ulti­
mately the decisions are determined by the managers’
preferences. Above this threshold, by contrast, many
topics are initiated by the workers themselves and more
of the decisions made together by workers and manag­
ers tend to go in the direction workers prefer.
--------P a u l B e r n s t e i n
W o rk p la c e D e m o c ra tiza tio n :
I ts I n te r n a l D y n a m ic s (Kent, Ohio, Kent State

University, 1976), pp. 48-49.


Industrial democracy
in the Netherlands



S. W e i n b e r g

The question of whether or not workers should par­
ticipate in m anagem ent is not debated in the N eth­
erlands; rather, the debate is over what will be the
form and shape of th at participation. Legally,
workers, through the W orks Council A ct of 1970,
are guaranteed control of the workplace through
elected representatives, while the Law on the Right
of Inquiry affords the W orks Council, and also the
trade unions, the right to challenge managerial
m ethods.

Works councils and trade unions
The distinction between the function of the
unions and that of the W orks Council is heatedly
debated between these two. The 1970 law gives the
Council a dom inant position in the determ ination
of working conditions. Unions have been left with
the residual: wage bargaining. In the N etherlands,
it is assumed that m anagers possess the expertise to
decide the means, but th at the right to define broad
objectives belongs to the W orks Council; the
W orks Council establishes goals and objectives
which m anagem ent is legally obligated to imple-

Arthur S. Weinberg is coordinator of the Worker Exchange Program at
the Metropolitan Office of the New York State School of Industrial
and Labor Relations, Cornell University. This report stems from a field
study undertaken with the assistance of a grant from the Ford Founda­
tion. Credit for research assistance and commentary on this report
should be afforded to Dr. Maarten van Gils, Deputy Director, Nether­
lands Institute for Preventive Medicine in Leiden.

From the Review of July 1976


ment. If a problem arises, a Federal judge deter­
mines whether m anagem ent has adequately imple­
m ented the policies form ulated by the Council;
although this practice is rare, the decision is bind­
ing on m anagerial personnel.
In many companies, workers committees ( werkoverleg) have been established to discuss jobrelated problems. In some companies, the com m it­
tees are in direct contact with m embers of the
W orks Council, who themselves are elected by all
employees of the company. The stockholders,
Board of Commissars (an appointed public interest
group), and the trade union all have an equal right
to place names in nom ination for Council positions.
Unions represent about 40 percent of the labor
force and the percentage is relatively stable. The
union is attem pting to m aintain its strength and its
influence through their bedrijvenwerk (trade union
committees and officials within the enterprise); it is
an effort to make the union presence felt on the
shop floor. Trade union officials claim that the
workers’ committees are not adequate to deal with
daily problems.
It should be obvious that there is a conflict im­
plied in the situation; the policies of the trade union
will often conflict with the policies of the W orks
Council. Com pounding this problem is the fact that
many of the members of the W orks Council are
also union officials or members. The resolution of
this conflict of dual loyalties is one of the most
pressing in the D utch labor movement.

Job design experiments
On the m anagem ent side, many companies have
attem pted to alter the traditional assembly line and
eliminate repetitive work tasks. The reasons are
threefold: To increase productivity, to improve job
satisfaction, and to m itigate the problems of re­
cruitm ent and turnover. Gains have been m ade in
the alteration of traditional approaches to work by
International Business Machines (IBM) in type­
writer assembly, Philips in electronics assembly,
Bamshoeve in textiles, and by Centraal Beheer, an
insurance company.
IBM . In what is term ed a “ simple business unit,”
IBM allows 16 to 20 workers to rotate tasks and
also to move from complex to simple work tasks.
The product m anager explains that this allows a
desirable variation of workload; workers need to
relieve the strain imposed by a complex task and, at
times, enjoy a simple and routine task. The IBM
concept has been implemented through the use of a
“mini, midi, and m axi” assembly line in the pro­
duction process. The size of the line varies with the
needs and abilities of each worker.

The author of this study concluded that an over­
whelming m ajority of workers did not wish to re­
turn to the assembly line. “They have learned to see
the assembly process as a whole, to learn from their
mistakes, and to work together with others and the
group. They have become more aware of their own
situation.” 1
In 1969, an experiment was m ade in the m anufac­
ture of light bulbs, where the traditional assembly
line was replaced by a “miniline” of 12-14 workers
assembling the product at three worktables. This
“miniline” did not include any mechanical con­
veyor, but did fix a repetitive work task and con­
fined operatives to one work station. According to
com pany reports, these initial efforts resulted in a
substantial reduction in quality and led to dishar­
mony in work attitudes at the factory.
In view of the failure of the “miniline,” Philips
moved tow ard small “autonom ous” groups with
responsibility for quality, job-task distribution,
and, in theory, unlim ited freedom for job rotation.
Early results, according to m anagement officials,
have shown quality improvements and a reduction
of absenteeism and turnover.
Bamshoeve Textile. This small spinning-mill in En­
schede has implemented workers committees and a
W orks Council which exceed the average D utch
program; consultations with workers have led to
new personnel policies and a complete organiza­
tional change within m anagerial ranks. D epart­
ments have been reorganized according to the prin­
ciple of establishing “natural boundaries” within a
departm ent which will facilitate better work rela­
tionships and more extensive communication.
One change in job design has recently been im­
plemented. Two self-selected partners operate ap­
proximately 10 machines and rotate tasks at will;
each two-man team coordinates efforts with similar
teams in order to complete a final product. The di­
rector of the experiment comm ented that the most
im portant result of this experiment has been more
cooperative attitudes in the factory.

Philips. A nother effort to redesign alm ost all areas
of m anufacture has been made by the Philips orga­
nization. The m ost successful and m ost prom inent
changes have been accomplished in the production
of television sets, in lam p assembly, and in defense
In the m anufacture of television, efforts have
been directed at determining the optim al size of au­
tonom ous groups to be engaged in the assembly
process. The current effort has as many as 20 peo­
ple working together and as few as one skilled
worker completing the entire assembly operation.
Philips has studied all of its approaches by keeping
in close contact with experimental groups. The fol­
lowing distribution of answers was obtained from
two autonom ous groups of workers, and from
workers on a long assembly line, when asked about
their feelings tow ard work:


A nsw er

A utono­
m ous

D o you get bored at work? ... . .
Can you use your talents
and capacities in the
work you are doing? ......... ..
D o you feel nervous and
hurried at w ork?....... ...........
D o you like your work?....... ..
A re people helping each
other in your group? ......... ..




Y es



Y es






Centraal Beheer. This large insurance com pany in
A peldoorn is found in an office building created by
the famous architect, Professor Ir H. Hertzberger.
The interior of the building is a mosaic of “is­
lands,” each a separate and distinct part of the
building. The “office sculpture” consists of many
floor levels with each level existing in an open-area
atm osphere in an effort to prom ote a feeling of so­
cial integration.
The office landscaping, what the D utch call Kantoorin, contains an autonom ous work group in each

“island.” The work groups have been established,
but the integration of work tasks (job enlargement)
is just beginning. At this time, the working environ­
ment is unique, but the job tasks and organiza­
tional structure are still traditional. The project at
Centraal Beheer (subsidized by the D utch Govern­
ment) is to develop integrated work tasks and initi­
ate organizational changes to accommodate autono­
mous groups.
Job design experiments and refinements in indus­
trial democracy are continuing throughout the
Netherlands. At the time of this writing, the social­
ist trade union, the largest in the country, and the

Catholic trade union were expected to call for an
end to new work experiments. This has been viewed
as an effort by the unions to gain control of existing
work experiments. W ith the works councils rem ain­
ing academically critical of this experimentation,
this move by the trade unions may alter the future
of the Dutch effort at job redesign.

--------- f o o t n o t e --------'Friso J. den Hertog, Work Structuring, Philips’ Gloeilampenfabrieken, Industrial Psychology Department, unpublished manu­
script, e.d.

Miitum! growth forums
U a w members employed at the Ford Motor Co. will get new input
into the management decisionmaking process through a framework of
joint union-management bodies called Mutual Growth Forums, which
will operate at both the local and national levels.

The Mutual Growth Forums will be empowered to undertake “ ad­
vance discussion of certain business developments that are of
material interest and significance to the union, the employees, and
the company.”
National level
An equal number of union and company representatives will
comprise the national Forum which will be empowered, among
other things, to discuss the company’s general operations and cer­
tain business developments, examine government relations matters,
and take other actions. The Director of the u a w National Ford
Dept, may address the company’s board of directors twice yearly.
Local level
At the plant level, it is suggested that the Forums meet at least
quarterly to discuss such things as “ the plant’s general operation
and certain business developments.” The local Forums will get
periodic financial and business presentations from management and
the union.
-Excerpt from summary of United Auto Workers—
Ford Motor Co. national agreement, 1982


Six American workers assess
job redesign at Saab-Scania

A rthur S. Weinberg
A r e t h e r e l e s s o n s for Detroit carmakers in the
way work is organized in a Swedish factory? Six
American workers recently participated in the ex­
periment at the Saab-Scania plant in Sodertalje.
Their reactions serve as a basis for a case study on
job satisfaction.
In the experiment, three-member groups assemble
the combustion engine for the Saab Model 99. Each
worker in the group completes part or all of the
engine as determined by the decisions of the threemember assembly team. The Americans worked in
these autonomous groups and also in engine pre­
assembly.1 Their 1-month tour of duty was spon­
sored by the New York State School of Industrial
and Labor Relations at Cornell University with the
cooperation of the Ford Foundation.
In engine preassembly, the traditional assembly
line method is used and job tasks are rotated on a
weekly basis. Skilled mechanics, foundry workers,
and white-collar workers have work assignments
that are little different from that of an American
The Americans also participated in works coun­
cils and consultation groups, which were created in
an effort to increase worker participation in man-

Arthur S. W einberg is Coordinator o f the Worker Exchange
Program at N ew Y ork State School o f Industrial and Labor
Relations, Cornell University.

agerial decisions. The works councils represent man­
agement, white-collar employees, foremen, and pro­
duction workers and meet on a monthly basis to
resolve plantwide issues. Consultation groups (pro­
duction and development groups) are composed of
technicians, foremen, and production workers.
Smaller groups of these workers meet on a monthly
or biweekly basis to solve grievances and shop floor
problems. Decisions of the production and develop­
ment groups are not binding on company manage­
ment; however, information obtained from these
meetings is used by management in implementing
corporate decisions.
The goal of the experimental job redesign, initi­
ated in 1969, was to optimize the potential for
human satisfaction in every aspect of the job envi­
ronment by (1) increasing the possibilities for em­
ployees to influence their own work task; (2) ren­
dering production tasks more meaningful and
stimulating; and (3) increasing productive efficiency
by improving flexibility and minimizing the possibil­
ity ol disruption.
The Detroit auto workers were selected based on
their ability to articulate their work experiences and
how their work related to their lives. Efforts were
made to choose individuals who were representative
in terms of age, race, and sex. Conceptually, it was
felt that the only person who could evaluate the
work environment was the individual actually per­
forming the task.

From the Review of September 1975


The six were involved in a 3-day orientation pro­
gram at Cornell University in New York City to
acquaint them with the concepts of job design; job
enrichment and enlargement; industrial democracy;
Swedish life and culture; and to prepare them for
what they might expect at Saab-Scania. This was fol­
lowed by a 2-day orientation program by Scania in
Sweden. They worked first in engine preassembly
and then in the assembly of the Model 99 engine.
Reactions off American workers
There was general agreement by the American
participants that physical environment, noise levels,
lighting, and the quality of the air in the plant was
better at Saab-Scania than in their plant at home.
Each commented favorably on the leisurely pace of
the preassembly line and expressed favorable re­
sponses to the idea of rotating tasks on the line. The
only general question posed was how the company
could function economically at this slow pace, par­
ticularly when coupled with what seemed to be fre­
quent production breakdowns. They felt that this
frequency of work stoppages would not be tolerated
in Detroit.
In the area of engine group assembly, the Ameri­
can reactions were negative. The majority felt that
the rapid pace and complexity of the work task on
group assembly imposed psychological pressures
which outweighed benefits of variety in work tasks.
Only one worker felt that the Saab approach was
superior to Detroit. Two workers had mixed reac­
tions to group assembly: they liked the complex
work task, but questioned how interesting it would
be in the longrun. They felt the assembly line method
allowed more freedom of thought and action, in that
it required less concentration. The remaining three
workers had more serious reservations about group
assembly, citing pressures of stress and concentra­
tion to maintain the pace of the group, a continuing
isolation, and lack of social contact.

The American reaction was indifferent or negative
to the worker participation schemes. They observed
that the work council meeting seemed more like a
mixture of a shareholders and general sales meeting,
and that the members of the works council did not
seem to be a representative sample of workers
throughout the plant. The production and develop­
ment group meetings seemed an adjunct of the works
council meeting. There were discussions of problems
with little attention directed at possible solutions. In
general, all six workers viewed the production and
development groups as inadequate in handling dis­
putes at the workplace.
Reactions of indigenous workers
The consensus of the indigenous workers inter­
viewed was that group engine assembly was an
undesirable job; they felt the only advantage was the
flexible 4-day workweek allowed under this system.
Almost all workers interviewed preferred the casual
working pace of the assembly line in contrast to
group engine assembly. They felt no identification
with the production and development groups and
none expressed any feeling of participation in union
activities or in the works councils.
Scania workers and the Americans worked both
day and night shifts alternating on a weekly basis.
Both groups reacted negatively to mandatory shift
changing. This procedure is a tradition in Swedish
industry. Scania workers had frequently expressed
dissatisfaction over this issue.
There have been no attitudinal studies at SaabScania to determine if the group assembly approach
is more satisfactory than an assembly line method.
There is no evidence to indicate that employees feel
an increase in their influence over work tasks or that
their job is more meaningful and stimulating. How­
ever, the production flexibility intended by utilizing
group assembly methods seems to have been success­

■FOOTNOTEshafts, connecting rods, and pistons are machined
assembled together.

1 Preassembly consists o f a square production line on
which the main com ponents o f the engine such as crank­



UoSo longshoremen evaluate
work conditions in Rotterdam

H e r b e r t A. P e r r y

Six members of the International Longshoremen’s
and Warehousemen’s Union spent a month work­
ing on the piers in Rotterdam (Holland) in the
spring of 1975. This work study experience, spon­
sored by the Labor Center of the Institute of Indus­
trial Relations, University of California at Berkeley,
in cooperation with the Ford Foundation, was de­
signed to obtain reactions of American workers to
working conditions in other countries, particularly
in terms of job satisfaction issues. Before leaving for
Rotterdam, the participants received approximately
25 hours of orientation. In addition, the Port of
Rotterdam Transport College, which educates and
trains port workers, conducted a 4-day orientation
for the group which included lectures on the history
of the port, its facilities and the work force. The
longshoremen were assigned in pairs to work for
three cooperating employers. Despite cultural and
language differences, the workplace and organiza­
tion of work were familiar, and the Americans
adapted to their new assignments with little trou­
ble. Eight factors which contribute to job satisfac­
tion were evaluated.

with the strong sense of community among Rotter­
dam dockworkers, was an important factor in pro­
viding job satisfaction. They felt the Dutch system
provides greater job security than the American.
Wages and benefits. Weekly wages for dockworkers
in Rotterdam were generally lower than longshore­
men wages in San Francisco. A higher proportion
of the Dutch workers’ pay is deducted for social se­
curity and income taxes. However, provision of cer­
tain amenities (such as subsidized cafeterias, medi­
cal clinics, and sports and other recreational
facilities) by both the State and employers tends to
narrow the gap between San Francisco and Rotter­
dam earnings patterns. In addition, most fringe
benefits (that is, health insurance plans, family al­
lowances, pensions, and paid vacations) are pro­
vided for all workers by the State. The U.S. long­
shoremen felt that wages for the Dutch
longshoremen were adequate, and given their sense
of job security and social security protection, sav­
ings did not seem necessary to Dutch dockworkers.
Participation in day-to-day decisions o f the work­
place. The American workers found little difference

Job security. Longshoremen in Rotterdam have job

security and earnings guarantees provided by state
regulation of private firms’ layoff and termination
actions. The American workers felt that this, along

in this area although the union played a greater role
in San Francisco than in Rotterdam. Arrangements
whereby as soon as a particular job is finished
workers are allowed to go home and still get a full
shift’s pay are found in both ports but are probably
more widespread in Rotterdam. This arrangement,

Herbert A. Perry is professor of economics at California State Univer­
sity, Sacramento.

From the Review of August 1976


which requires a more intensive work pace in turn
for a short workday, is favored by young workers
and opposed by older workers, management, and
union officials. Project participants felt that regard­
less of the faster work pace, those involved get con­
siderable satisfaction out of negotiating a shorter

and regulations. D utch dockworkers seemed to take
a perverse pride in risks. This was particularly true
under the arrangements whereby they were allowed
to go home as soon as a particular job was finished.
They overloaded slings, swung loads directly over
groups of workers, operated lift trucks at high
speeds, and cluttered up the docks with loaded pal­
lets. Union officials, employers, and Transport Col­
lege staff all agreed safety regulations were often
ignored but inferred that the workers were at fault.

Variety o f work and promotion opportunities. The
San Francisco group found less variety and choice
in jobs and work schedules in Rotterdam because
the m ajority of dockworkers are hired directly by
the employer. They felt the union-controlled hiring
hall in San Francisco gave them greater choice in
jobs and work schedules— a very im portant source
of job satisfaction for 95 percent of the 30 long­
shoremen interviewed by the project selection com ­
mittee. As for training and promotion opportuni­
ties, they noted that the D utch have more options
because of their Transport College, which offers
courses in improving longshore skills and training
in managerial and administrative skills with oppor­
tunity to move up in the industry. While the group
expressed some concern about employer influence
in the Transport College and their role in selecting
workers for upgrading, they felt it was a desirable
arrangem ent and contributed to job satisfaction.

Role o f unions, employers, and Government. Expo­
sure to this area was mainly through formal contact
with union officials, m anagement representatives,
and Transport College staff. M embers of the group
were impressed by the social consciousness imposed
on employers by the Government and were aware
of the role the national union and federation had in
negotiating the extensive social security system.
However, the Americans expressed reservations
about the unions’ open shop policy and lack of in­
terest in direct job control and contract enforce­
ment on the piers. Belonging to a strong union
seemed to be a source of job satisfaction for all of
the American participants; union m embership did
not seem as im portant to the D utch longshoremen.
Status o f longshoremen in society. As the San F ran­
cisco longshoremen saw it, the R otterdam dockworker enjoys considerable status, better wages,
and a greater variety of work than factory workers
and a sense of being m ore essential to the well­
being of the economy than m ost other workers.
Dockworkers are the m ost im portant segment of
R otterdam ’s work force and they take pride in their
occupation and derive m ore status from this than
do longshoremen in the San Francisco Bay area.
Generally, the longshoreman in R otterdam feels
his job is a good one with a relatively high level of
satisfaction. G reater job security and overall eco­
nomic security combined with a strong sense of
community with the whole of D utch society seems
to be im portant. However, the San Francisco long­
shoreman also feels he has a good job, greater free­
dom of choice in his work than m ost jobs provide,
and considerable job security and independence
from the employer because of a strong union. A l­
though the Americans felt that the D utch dockworkers were well satisfied with their working con­
ditions, they felt that the same working conditions
on the San Francisco w aterfront would not give
them [Americans] as m uch satisfaction.

Supervision and grievance handling. On the R otter­
dam docks where the Americans worked, supervi­
sors seemed to be generally well qualified, in close
comm unication with the workers, unobtrusive, and
more respectful tow ards employees than is the case
in the San Francisco area. On the other hand,
D utch dockworkers seem to accept authority more
readily and are able to communicate fairly high up
the m anagem ent ladder. M ost of the participants
indicated they had never met m anagement people in
a cooperative relationship in the m anner they ob­
served in Holland. As for grievance handling, they
felt th at the union did not have a strong presence
on the piers in R otterdam and that their union did
a much better job. Grievances in R otterdam were
handled informally with m anagement by bondskontaktm en appointed by the national union, paid from
a special employer fund, and not answerable to the
local membership. Few D utch workers and union
officials who discussed this m atter with the group
were happy with the system.
Safety regulations and enforcement. The American
longshoremen were appalled at the dangerous work
practices and lack of enforcement of safety rules


Other Publications on
Labor ^Management Cooperation
By the D ivision of Cooperative Labor-Management P rograms
Labor-Management Services A dministration
Plant Closings: What Can Be Learned From Best Prac­
A report on a January 1981 conference sponsored by
the U.S. Department of Labor summarizing discussion
and describing six exemplary programs of adjustment
assistance in the United States and Canada. 58 pp. 1982.
#029-011-00007-9. $4.50.

Listed below are other publications issued by the
Division of Cooperative Labor-Management Programs
of the Labor-Management Services Administration,
U.S. Department of Labor. The first three may be pur­
chased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
The last two may be requested directly from the Divi­
sion of Cooperative Labor-Management Programs,
Room N5677, 200 C onstitution Ave., N .W .,
Washington, D.C. 20210. (Phone: (202) 523-6098.)

Report on the Secretary o f Labor’s Symposium on
Cooperative Labor-Management Programs.
A report on a June 1982 symposium convened by the
Secretary of Labor summarizing the views of more than
40 representatives of business, labor, government, and
the third-party community on the current and future
status of cooperative labor-management programs. 51
pp. 1982.

Resource Guide to Labor-Management Cooperation.
Describes 181 in-plant programs and lists industry
and area labor-management committees as well as pro­
ductivity and quality-of-worklife centers. Entries are in­
dexed to permit identification of programs by region,
industry, and union. 198 pp. #029-000-00414-5. $7.

The Operation o f Area Labor-Management Commit­
A comprehensive assessment of areawide commit­
tees—why they have been formed, how they are struc­
tured and how they function, and what criteria might be
used to evaluate their effectiveness. 288 pp. 1982.

Starting Labor-Management Quality o f Work Life Pro­
Experiences of the Northeast Labor Management
Center (Massachusetts) in starting up and assisting a
number of quality-of-worklife programs. 21 pp. 1982.
#029-000-00415-3. $3.25.

The Operation of Area
Ubor-Management Committees

Report on the Secretary
of Labor's Symposium
on Cooperative LaborManagement Programs

Resource Guide to
la b o r Management Cooperation

Plant Closings:
What Can Be Learned
from Best Practice

Starting LaborManagement Quality
of Work Life Programs



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE :1982 0 -3 8 1 -6 0 8


U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Every month, 12 times a year

A rticle s and
40 pages
reports on
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