Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations: Volume 15


Table of contents

(12 chapters)

Volume 15 of Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations (AILR) contains 10 papers, four of which deal with human resource management and six with unionization. Six of the papers were originally presented in “Best Papers” sessions at the 57th and 58th annual meetings of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA). In keeping with AILR's global perspective and global sourcing of leading research, the studies contained in these papers draw on data from the United Kingdom, France, Asia, Canada, and the United States.

The introduction of performance-related pay with performance management in the state school sector of England and Wales represents a considerable change in the school management system. After 2000, all teachers were subject to annual goal setting performance reviews. Experienced teachers were offered an extended pay scale based on performance instead of seniority, and to gain access to the new upper pay scale, teachers had to go through a ‘threshold assessment’ based on their professional skills and performance. This paper reports the results of a panel survey of classroom and head teachers which started in 2000 just before implementation of the new system, and then after one and after four years of operation. We find that both classroom and head teacher views have changed considerably over time, from initial general scepticism and opposition towards a more positive view, especially among head teachers by 2004. We argue that the adoption of an integrative bargaining approach to performance reviews explains why a growing minority of schools have achieved improved goal setting and improved pupil attainments as they have implemented performance management. Pay for performance has been one of the measures of organisational support that head teachers could bring to induce changes in teachers’ classroom priorities. We argue that the teachers’ case shows that a wider range of performance incentives than previously thought can be offered to employees in such occupations, provided that goal setting and performance measurement are approached as a form of negotiation instead of top-down.

This study compares dispute resolution strategies of workers in hierarchical, conventional businesses with those of members of worker cooperatives – organizations in which all workers co-own and co-manage the business. Drawing on data from three industries (coal mining, taxicab driving, and food distribution), this study finds some support for predictions in the literature that assert that the cooperative's flattened structure and egalitarian ideology will affect workers’ grievance resolution. Although the data do not indicate a single pattern in dispute resolution strategies (i.e., with all members of the cooperatives resolving their disputes one way and all non-cooperative employees using a different strategy), the data do demonstrate that, when comparing matched cooperative and conventional businesses within each industry, the worker cooperative members possess more dispute resolution strategies than their conventionally employed counterparts.

Organizational performance improves through several channels, including changes in efficiency, innovation and technological change. Most of the extant research has focused on overall performance, often measured by partial measures of productivity, with little attention given to the components of performance. The aim of this paper is to analyze the impact of HR practices and unionization on one important channel – organization efficiency - as measured by technical and scale efficiency. Using French industry survey data, the paper shows that HR practices do influence efficiency, but this is moderated by the existence of unions. The results show a rather complex set of associations. We find robust results that show that in France, HR practices have a positive effect on scale efficiency but this effect is dampened in the presence of unions. On their own, HR practices have no effect on technical efficiency. However, some of the results suggest that HR practices can exert a positive influence when combined with unions.

Utilizing data drawn from 18 in-depth case studies the authors explore in detail the factors shaping employment in a diverse range of Irish small- and medium-sized enterprises. Existing theory in HRM is deemed inadequate in capturing the complexity of HRM in SMEs especially as it treats organizations as hermetically sealed entities. In an effort to animate the criticism directed at normative models of HRM the authors use a conceptual framework with an emergent, open systems theoretical proposition to examine the parameters, dynamics and determining factors of HRM at each of the case study companies. The results show that the notion of a normative HRM model was not coherent in terms of actual practices but rather reactive, and emergent HRM-related processes were often imposed to meet legislative requirements or to reinforce owner–manager legitimacy and control. The authors conclude that an appreciation of the interaction between structural factors both inside and outside the immediate work milieu is crucial if the heterogeneity of HRM in SMEs is to be adequately accommodated and understood.

This paper proposes a new theoretical framework to explain enterprise unionism and conducts the first systematic comparative study of union structure in nine Asian countries. Our framework emphasizes political dynamics and the role of the state in labor relations and argues that the initial period of the collective bargaining era constituted a critical juncture (state labor policy) that occurred in distinctive ways in different countries and that these differences played a central role in shaping the different union structures in the following decades. The nine countries are mainly divided into three groups, depending on the type of state labor policy: enforcement of enterprise unionism; centralization/laissez-faire (non-enterprise unionism); and dual unionism/gradual transition (middle-ground). Governmental data were used for the study. A clear correspondence between state labor policy and union structure in each of these groups was found. We believe that our framework significantly enhances our understanding of the Asian cases. Future research should explore the validity of the proposed framework through comparative studies of Latin American cases where enterprise unions have also been observed.

China has, apparently, more trade union members than the rest of the world put together, but the unions are subservient to the Party-state. The theme of the paper is the gap between rhetoric and reality. Issues analysed include union structure, membership, representation, and the interaction between unions and the Party-state. We suggest that Chinese unions inhabit an Alice in Wonderland dream world and that they are virtually impotent when it comes to representing workers. Because the Party-state recognises that such frailty may lead to instability it has passed new laws promoting collective contracts and established new tripartite institutions to mediate and arbitrate disputes. While such laws are welcome they are largely hollow: collective contracts are very different from collective bargaining and the incidence of cases dealt with by the tripartite institutions is tiny. Much supporting evidence is presented drawing on detailed case studies undertaken in Hainan Province (the largest and one of the oldest special economic zones) in 2004 and 2005. The need for more effective representation is appreciated by some All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) officials, but it seems a long way off, so unions in China will continue to echo the White Queen: “The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today” and, alas, tomorrow never comes.

A certification attempt involving an incumbent union is known as a raid. Very little is known about union raiding, yet a large number of workers are affected by raiding and unions continue to debate the process. This paper tests various hypotheses of the nature of union raiding using unique data on raiding attempts over the 1978–1998 period in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The principal findings are (1) raiding attempts are much more likely to succeed when the incumbent union has underachieved in collective bargaining, and are often used in such circumstances; (2) employers favor the incumbent union, are effective in influencing the outcome, but use very different tactics than in regular certification; (3) independent unions fare better in raid contests relative to the national and international unions; and (4) there is a modest amount of inter-affiliation raiding, but much of this is between AFL–CIO affiliates who apparently disregard their no-raiding agreements when operating in Canada.

For over thirty years, one of the most overt forms of employer opposition to unionization has been anti-union campaigns conducted by union avoidance consultants. As a result, both union and employer associations have attempted to influence the provisions of the LMRDA that cover consultant activities. This article provides the first comprehensive historical analysis of the LMRDA's reporting and disclosure requirements covering employers and consultants. The first section examines consultant reporting policy from the late 1950s to the late 1970s, a period when unions filed relatively few complaints and the DOL initiated few investigations, but the consultant industry expanded significantly. Section two examines developments in the 1980s – the period of greatest congressional and judicial activity on consultant reporting since the 1950s. The final section looks at post-1980s events and examines why organized labor has persisted with its campaign to reform government policy on consultant reporting, despite its inability to make progress on the issue over the past four decades.

The author places the departure by the Change to Win Coalition from the AFL–CIO in contextual and theoretical terms. For context, it is argued that associational rights for U.S. wage-earners have historically and generally been subordinate to the rights of capital owners. As such, the rules regulating industrial relations tend to punish broad acts of wage-earner solidarity, channeling labor toward a strategy of achieving a larger share of the rewards of production through private contracts with employers. This has given birth to business unionism, a style of union representation characterized as exclusionary, neutral with regard to political party, business-like in operation, and accommodative to market capitalism. Presently, the internationalization of capitalism is challenging business unionism by exposing its contradictions and vulnerabilities. As political theory would predict, this is pressuring the AFL–CIO and affiliates to socialize labor–capital conflict. This shift, in turn, resulted in several major points of contention within the house of labor, leading to the departure of the Change to Win affiliates.

The U.S. labor movement is in decline and a crisis of national leadership has emerged over conflicting prescriptions for labor's revival. Union leaders have seemingly established consensus on the need for change, but disagree about the nature of needed reform, and methods for accomplishing meaningful changes that might address the long-term crisis.

This paper strives to inform and advance debates on these issues. Two national union surveys conducted in 1990 and 1997 provide the primary evidentiary base. Given their critical role in this study, measures from the surveys and certain aspects of the surveys are scrutinized. These surveys span the “Sweeney Insurgency” and the early years of the Sweeney AFL-CIO administration. Although both surveys have supported previous cross-section based studies, no published work has expressly focused on the change and stability within national unions or the longitudinal potential these data collectively provide. Using this potential to reexamine relations between union structures, strategies, and performance, this paper seeks to establish an evidentiary base to inform the current debate about union reforms and their likely consequences. In addition, suggestions for future research on unions and approaches to studying unions are offered.

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Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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