New Roles for Unions?

New Roles for Unions?

More baloney is written and spoken around “employee involvement” (EI) than any other issue in American business. But it’s a mistake to dismiss this movement as “just baloney.” Twenty years of experimentation and more than a decade of careful academic study of these workplace programs make it clear that democratic, participative organizations are able to outperform hierarchical, authoritarian ones. A workplace that taps the insight and knowledge of its workers will be more productive and produce better goods and services.

There’s no better guide to the progressive potential of employee involvement than this new book by the Family Bluestone. Irving, the father, is a former production grinder for the General Motors Corp. who worked his way up through the ranks of the United Auto Workers (UAW), retiring as its vice president in charge of negotiations with GM. Barry, his son, is an economist and co-author, with Bennett Harrison, of two books that had wide impact among labor and community activists in the 1980s —The Deindustrialization of America and The Great U-Turn. Like Barry’s previous books with Bennett Harrison, this is economics and labor relations written for a general audience, while offering a wholly original analysis that specialists (both academics and practitioners) will be unable to ignore.

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