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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2011

Thomas Turner, Michelle O'Sullivan and Daryl D'Art

This paper seeks to explore the recruiting and organising methods used by Irish full‐time union officials to recruit new members in the private sector of the economy.

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to explore the recruiting and organising methods used by Irish full‐time union officials to recruit new members in the private sector of the economy.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis is based on a survey of full‐time union officials in eight Irish trade unions.

Findings

Results indicate that the use of organising techniques by officials had no significant impact on changes in membership numbers but did have a significant and positive impact on reported changes in new members. However, the variance explained was extremely modest.

Research limitations/implications

A potential limitation is that the organising model is assessed solely from the perspective of full‐time union officials. An area for future research would be to capture the attitudes and experiences of local activists involved in organising.

Practical implications

The demands of the organising approach require great commitment in terms of time and financial resources for unions. Yet the returns from this investment may be slight as only a relatively weak relationship was found between the number of organising methods used and changes in membership numbers and the recruitment of new members.

Originality/value

To date there has been little systematic study of either the recruitment methods used by Irish trade unions or the relative success of different approaches. Based on a survey of Irish full‐time union officials, this paper attempts to address this lacuna.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 33 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 December 1994

Ed Snape

Explores the recruitment and organizing experience of trade unions.Draws on in‐depth interviews with union full‐time officials and on theWorkplace Industrial Relations…

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Abstract

Explores the recruitment and organizing experience of trade unions. Draws on in‐depth interviews with union full‐time officials and on the Workplace Industrial Relations Surveys (WIRS). Describes the experience of union recruitment, and evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of various forms of recruitment campaigns, in which unions had little success in extending organization.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 16 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

Martin McCracken and Michael Sanderson

This paper adapts the model espoused by Snape and considers avenues for trade unions to increase membership. It studies two specific industrial sectors, namely 20…

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Abstract

This paper adapts the model espoused by Snape and considers avenues for trade unions to increase membership. It studies two specific industrial sectors, namely 20 non‐unionised manufacturing small‐ to medium‐sized establishments (SMEs) and four large unionised banking and insurance establishments all of which are based in the central belt of Scotland. The authors consider possible implications for trade unions in developing strategies for targeting workers in an attempt to boost trade union membership as indicated by the setting up of a TUC Organising Academy, as well as possible effects of the Employment Relations Act, 1999. Discussion also centres on employer suppression or substitution strategies, and on trade union commitment towards investing resources in workplace establishments that are either non‐union or are unionised but exhibit a low union density. The authors conclude that trade unions will have to think very carefully about the rewards available when conceiving strategies aimed at increasing membership in non‐union establishments, and density in unionised establishments.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 2 October 2003

Edmund Heery, Rick Delbridge, Melanie Simms, John Salmon and David H Simpson

As trade unions have continued to decline in membership and influence across the developed economies, so academic attention has turned to the prospects for renewal and a…

Abstract

As trade unions have continued to decline in membership and influence across the developed economies, so academic attention has turned to the prospects for renewal and a search for the conditions under which it might plausibly occur (Fairbrother, 2000; Martin & Ross, 1999; Turner, 1999). One leg of this search has been directed towards the changing context which unions face and has resulted in the prescription that unions must change their policies, structures and culture to accommodate a “new workforce” (Cobble, 1994; Heckscher, 1988; Wever, 1998). A second leg has been directed within unions themselves and has been concerned more with the internal processes through which renewal can take place (Fiorito et al., 1995; Hurd, 1998; Pocock, 1998). In the U.K., two distinctive theories of change in trade unions have emerged along this second line of inquiry, one of which, the “rank and file” model, holds that significant change occurs from the bottom-up and requires the mobilisation of members against a conservative leadership (Fairbrother, 1996). The other, the “managerial” model, claims the opposite is true and that renewal is conditional on effective systems of union management and occurs from the top–down (Willman et al., 1993). Both theories are venerable and in Britain their roots can be traced on the one hand to the Webbs and their conviction that effective unions required professional leadership and on the other to the apostles of industrial syndicalism (Fox, 1985, pp. 66, 256–260). They continue to structure debate, however, and the purpose of this article is to provide an empirical examination of each with regard to an issue, which seemingly is critical to the internal renewal of unions, the development of organising activity.

Details

Labor Revitalization: Global Perspectives and New Initiatives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-153-8

Article
Publication date: 1 February 1979

Ray Marsh and Mike Pedler

This research identifies factors which affect the unionisation of white collar workers and provides an analytical model for the use of practitioners in employee relations…

Abstract

This research identifies factors which affect the unionisation of white collar workers and provides an analytical model for the use of practitioners in employee relations. The article is based on a study carried out at Sheffield City Polytechnic from 1974–1977. The research took a company or organisation‐level perspective rather than the national or industrial ones favoured by previous researchers. In an organisational context the union recognition process is one which creates a profound change in relationship between white collar staff and their employer; a change from what may be described as an “individualistic” to a more “collective” relationship.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 1 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Article
Publication date: 1 April 2005

Gregor Gall

This paper examines the attempts by trade unions in Britain to gain organisational rights for their members and for workers in organisations operating within the hitherto…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines the attempts by trade unions in Britain to gain organisational rights for their members and for workers in organisations operating within the hitherto non‐unionised “new economy”.

Design/methodology/approach

By using data drawn from fieldwork interviews with full‐time union officials and supplemented by secondary sources, the paper assesses the genesis and progress of these campaigns, suggesting a combination of employer hostility and worker indifference explain the limited advances made to date.

Findings

In particular, the paper considers the configuration of the inter‐relationship between employer action, union strength and sudden grievances as the major explanatory variable in accounting for the variation in the outcomes of the eight union recognition campaigns. Finally, the high degree of dependence and reliance on full‐time union officers, contra the “organising” model, is examined.

Research limitations/implications

Further research on union presence and activity in the “new economy” are needed to critically examine these conclusions, given that the research was based on a study of eight employers.

Practical implications

The implications for trade unions are that not all campaigns for union recognition can be expected to be equally successful, that campaigns are likely to take a relatively long period of time before significant advances are made and that greater scrutiny of potential campaigns is needed.

Originality/value

Provides lessons for trade unions attempting to gain organisational rights for their members.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 July 1984

Teresa Keil, Janet Ford, Alan Bryman and Alan Beardsworth

The research data reported in this article were collected as part of a programme of research into management strategies in relation to the demand for labour. The research…

Abstract

The research data reported in this article were collected as part of a programme of research into management strategies in relation to the demand for labour. The research project, funded by the Employment Services Division of the Manpower Services Commission, was designed to investigate the ways in which a sample of firms in the private sector (both service and manufacturing) in the East Midlands established their demand for new and replacement labour, formulated and publicised that demand and then recruited. The research design included a detailed consideration of firms' established procedures for recruitment to four occupational categories as well as accounts of recruitment to their two most recent vacancies. It is the material relating to the ways in which firms handled recruitment to these different occupational groups and explanations of the patterns found which form the focus of discussion.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 11 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

Article
Publication date: 1 October 1997

Patricia Fosh

Discusses how since 1970, the colonial government in Hong Kong has exercised its wide legal powers over trade union organization and activities in a benevolent manner…

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Abstract

Discusses how since 1970, the colonial government in Hong Kong has exercised its wide legal powers over trade union organization and activities in a benevolent manner. Whether the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government will continue this policy is uncertain: the new government may enforce the trade unions’ legal framework more rigorously. UK trade unions proved themselves reliant and adaptable in the face of a wide raft of legislative “reforms”, brought in by Conservative governments in the 1979 to 1997 period, which laid down strict templates for their internal decision‐making processes. Suggests that the “survival lessons” learned by the UK trade unions during this period of hostile government may be of help to Hong Kong trade unions which face future challenges.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 19 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 9 January 2017

Linda Colley

Union membership has declined in many countries reducing union capacity to bargain and contribute to economic equality. This paper aims to explore a more hopeful case in…

Abstract

Purpose

Union membership has declined in many countries reducing union capacity to bargain and contribute to economic equality. This paper aims to explore a more hopeful case in an Australian state, where the dramatic anti-union strategies of conservative governments have been reversed by Labor governments.

Design/methodology/approach

The research frames union recognition and union security in an international context, highlighting differences between US, Canadian, UK and Australian approaches. The research focuses on the Australian state of Queensland, providing an historical account of changes to union recognition and union preference provisions, drawing on legislation, major public service agreements, newspapers and parliamentary transcripts.

Findings

Conservative governments in Australia have implemented anti-union strategies, and Labor governments have often failed to restore union-friendly provisions when re-elected. In contrast, the Queensland study demonstrates a substantial restoration of union security provisions when Labor governments are re-elected, rebuilding political capital with unions and potentially supporting union membership. This difference is due to unique political and institutional factors that provide governments with unfettered powers to legislate their industrial relations agenda, whether in support or otherwise of unions, and has led to the more distinctive pendulum swings to the right and left than occurred elsewhere in Australia.

Originality/value

The research contributes to debates about the factors related to declining union membership and highlights a case where unions have achieved restoration of many provisions that increase their influence and potentially their membership.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 31 March 2015

Veronica Terriquez

This research examines how labor union involvement shapes the civic participation of low-wage Latino immigrant workers.

Abstract

Purpose

This research examines how labor union involvement shapes the civic participation of low-wage Latino immigrant workers.

Methodology/approach

Drawing on survey and semi-structured interview data gathered from a Los Angeles janitors’ labor union, I examine whether or not and how Latino immigrants apply their union experience to involvement in their children’s schools.

Findings

Results indicate that the union’s targeted member mobilization efforts produce unequal participation in union activities among immigrant workers, fostering civic and leadership skills among some and not others. At the same time, immigrant workers who do become involved in their union are then able to draw on their labor organizing and advocacy experience to address issues and concerns at their children’s schools. For some, worksite activism functions as a catalyst for newfound civic engagement; for other immigrant workers with prior civic experience in their country origin or in the United States, union involvement enhances their leadership capacity.

Originality/value

This empirical investigation shows how the experience of mobilizing for protests and participating in worksite campaigns allows Latino immigrant union members to overcome what are typically considered barriers to civic participation – that is, limited formal education, low occupational status, and limited English language skills. This study therefore suggests that labor union participation can have long-term effects on immigrants well beyond the benefits of a union contract.

Details

Immigration and Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-632-4

Keywords

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