In the book Labor Relations: Striking a Balance by John W. Budd; Chapter 11-12: Globalization – Talk about the impact of globalization on U.S. labor relations.  Now Answer the fallowing...

In the book Labor Relations: Striking a Balance by John W. Budd; Chapter 11-12: GlobalizationTalk about the impact of globalization on U.S. labor relations.

 Now Answer the fallowing question:

  • How can we address the ethical concerns raised by globalization?
Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his book, Labor Relations: Striking a Balance, Budd's theoretical framework for labor relations entails "efficiency, equity, and voice" in industrial democracies throughout the world. The first of these, efficiency, involves production of goods and services that is economical. The next, equity, involves supplying employees with decent working conditions and wages. The third, voice, includes an establishment of human relations in the world's industrial democracies. While some authorities in labor relations contend that Budd should not put equal emphasis upon all three elements, they do agree with Budd, who argues that labor unions in the U.S. must become "more flexible" if they wish to "remain as employee representatives" in globalized products and labor markets.

One of the major reasons for companies from the United States taking their industry overseas has been the opportunities for profits. Companies such as Coca Cola and Nike have moved into third world countries that have few human rights and where labor can be procured cheaply. In a report entitled "Corporations and Workers Rights" Anup Shah writes, 

Nike, for example use cheap labor in South East Asia, where they can get away from the tighter enforcement and regulations of USA and Europe. In fact, they have been exposed for using child labor, as well. Coca Cola for example, have been accused of intimidating workers around the world, even hiring (often indirectly, through intermediaries) paramilitaries to intimidate or kill union leaders.

Within these foreign countries the age-old conflict between management and labor, and man's everlasting greed is certainly evinced. Anyone who has read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair or histories of Irish and Jewish immigrants (including their children) working in Northern factories and sweatshops is aware of the atrocities that have been committed by management in the earlier days of the United States. By the same token, anyone who has read and watched investigative reports on American automobile union workers who have been filmed smoking marijuana and consuming alcohol while on the job on more than one occasion, but have not been fired because of the power of the UAW union[United Auto Workers], must also be aware of the abuses of powerful unions. In fact, the ability of these unions to retain incompetent and indolent workers and provide innumerable benefits has certainly reduced company production and profits so badly that these companies have needed government bail-outs in order to stay in business. At least in part, the practices of powerful labor unions and the demand for higher wages in America has sent companies overseas.

For there to be equity in a globalized economy, then, an appeal must be made to large corporations to pay workers a living wage and to deal with these workers humanely by providing a safe workplace and keeping a reasonable work week. Because this treatment of workers will substantially reduce profits, such an appeal is risky. For, conventional wisdom declares that as long as this power struggle between management and labor exists, there will be grave problems. Nevertheless, ethical companies must not be so driven by greed, and workers must be conscientious and diligent, adherents of the work ethic.

In his book, Budd contends that "voice" is the key to some resolution of the problems of labor as people will become more productive when they are allowed "meaningful input into decisions"; in "Employment with a Human Face: Balancing Efficiency, Equity, and Voice," part of the abstract reads,

.... Only through a greater respect for these human concerns can broadly shared prosperity, respect for human dignity, and equal appreciation for the competing human rights of property and labor be achieved. Budd proposes a fresh set of objectives for modern democracies—efficiency, equity, and voice—and supports this new triad with an intellectual framework for analyzing employment institutions and practices.  

Such practices, according to Budd, will increase production, make for fewer sick days taken, and create more satisfied workers, eliminating antagonism on both sides. Democratic policies are essential in the workplace, Budd contends.