Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations: Volume 18

Subject:

Table of contents

(13 chapters)
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Introduction

Pages ix-xiv
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Volume 18 of Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations contains seven chapters that analyze key aspects of employment relationships, ranging from strategic choice and first contract arbitration to worker participation, employee well being and work-life conflict to union engagement in regional economic development and international labor standards enforcement. Preliminary versions of several of these chapters were presented at Advances in Industrial Relations (AILR)/Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) “Best Papers” sessions held at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 meetings of the LERA.

This chapter addresses a practical industrial relations problem, namely the absence of a monitoring framework to assess and improve labor–management relations in organizations. The authors argue that assessing and improving organizational labor relations requires attention to both vertical and horizontal alignments of labor relations institutions and practices. Vertical alignment refers to the internal consistency across the strategic, functional, and workplace levels noted by Kochan, Katz, and McKersie in their strategic choice framework (1986). Drawing on two “best practice” labor relations cases, Saturn and Kaiser Permanente as well as two original case studies of healthcare organizations, the authors develop the notion of horizontal alignment, i.e., the internal consistency across labor relations processes, substantive issues, and outcomes.

First contract arbitration (FCA) provisions are posed as a solution to the difficulties of negotiating a first contract for newly certified bargaining units. FCA is a longstanding, and no longer controversial, element of Canadian labor legislation. FCA provisions now exist in six Canadian jurisdictions and four distinct FCA models have developed (the exceptional remedy or fault model, the automatic access model, the no-fault model, and the mediation intensive model). In the United States the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) included a highly contested proposal to amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to include an FCA provision similar to the Canadian automatic access model. This chapter offers a balanced assessment of FCA evidence from Canada addressing the main objections to FCA in the EFCA debates. Individual case level data from jurisdictions representing each of the four FCA models is examined. The evidence demonstrates that although FCA is widely available in Canada, it is an option that is rarely sought and, when sought, rarely granted; that parties involved in FCA are able to establish stable bargaining relationships; and, that this process does not, as critics charge, simply prolong the life of nonviable bargaining units. This chapter concludes by suggesting that the practice under Quebec's “no-fault” model and British Columbia's “mediation intensive” model merit consideration for adoption elsewhere. These models position the FCA process as a mechanism fostering collective bargaining and voluntary agreements, rather than treating it as a remedy for dysfunctional negotiations and as part of the unfair labor practice framework.

Last decades scholars in the field of human resource management (HRM) have intensely examined the contribution of HRM to organizational performance. Despite their efforts, at least one major research shortcoming can be identified. In general, they have devoted far too little attention to an aspect of HRM potentially beneficial for organizational performance: worker participation, and especially its indirect or representative forms. In contrast, for academics embedded in the industrial relations tradition, worker participation is a prominent theme, even though less emphasized in its relationship with company objectives. One might defend traditional scholars' reservations by arguing that participations main goal concerns workplace democratization and not organizational prosperity. However, several writers state that industrial democracy involving worker participation can channel conflicts of interest between employees and employers and stimulate desired employee attitudes and behavior, consequently enhancing organizational performance (e.g., Gollan, 2006; Ramsay, 1991; Taras & Kaufman, 1999). And, indeed, several studies have shown positive effects of both direct participation (e.g., European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 1997) and indirect participation (e.g., Addison et al., 2000, 2003; Frick & Möller, 2003) on organizational performance.

Nevertheless, to date, the absence of an integrated model explaining the connection between worker participation and organizational performance leads to the following question that still is in need of an answer: how do direct and indirect forms of participation – separate as well as in combination – affect organizational performance? This chapter aims to contribute to the filling of the aforementioned knowledge gaps. In so doing, we focus on direct and indirect, nonunion participation on the firm level, using a Western European and especially Dutch frame of reference.

This chapter brings new evidence on the relationship between employees' well-being, sickness absence, and four dimensions of workplace performance: productivity, efficiency, quality of service, and profitability. It uses a new panel data set with monthly observations over two years for 48 local units of a large multisite organization in the logistics sector. It finds that good consultation and communication at the local level are associated with lower absenteeism. It also finds that lower absence is associated with higher efficiency, productivity, quality of the service, and profitability of the firm. Finally, the authors suggest that the link between workers' absence and this firm's profitability runs through the increased use of replacement labor, which raises short-run costs and reduces quality of service.

This study explores how participation in decision making (PDM) can help employees balance the demands from work and life. Based on Karasek's (1979) job demand–job control model, this study hypothesizes that work hours moderate the relationship between PDW and work–life conflict. Using a linked employer and employee two-year survey, this study finds that PDM can reduce work–life conflict, but the reduction only works for employees who work long hours. For those employees who work short hours, PDM increases their work–life conflict.

This chapter presents an institutional analysis of two organizations established by union members to give labor a voice in regional economic development in western New York (WNY), one that emerged in the 1970s another created in the 1990s. Employing the institutionalist comparative case method, the analysis highlights the organizations' similarities and differences. Then, drawing attention to key “limiting” factors, a theory is outlined, offering three scenarios for future labor involvement in WNY economic development. Central to those scenarios is the finding that labor needs not only a voice but also a suitable message.

Globalization has created conditions in which business has become increasingly global. The combined effect of global business, intense competition, weakening of labor unions, and the inability of national governments to control the negative effects of globalization has created immense difficulties in the formulation and implementation of global labor standards. This research takes an ancient industry with a long tradition of international features and regulations, that is, the maritime industry, as a case study to understand the dynamics associated with the regulation of a global industry. The study argues that J. R. Commons' works at the turn of the century not only give us excellent insights into the creation of global markets and the need for global labor rights protection but also provide us with a solution, that is, the creation of an “authoritative commission.” Finally, the study suggests that there is a need to enhance the role of ILO as a global “commission” to regulate the industry. Presently, the ILO does not have the essential features for becoming such a commission. Therefore, ILO should develop three important characteristics: ability to include new emerging actors, decision-making based on consensus and dialogue, and sanction power to implement its standards. Based on the above principles, ILO can work as the center of a global regulatory regime in the maritime industry. Through its power of sanction, it will implement its standards mainly through states. But, at the same time, it will network with unions and NGOs and all other important actors in the industry at local, national, and global levels to detect and eradicate substandard shipping.

DOI
10.1108/S0742-6186(2011)18
Publication date
Book series
Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-0-85724-907-4
eISBN
978-0-85724-908-1
Book series ISSN
0742-6186