Has the balance in labor-management relations during labor disputes shifted towards management?

1 Answer

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The balance in these sorts of negotiations has clearly shifted in favor of management these days.  There are at least three reasons for this.

First, there is the fact that the economy is not growing strongly right now.  In good times, unemployment is low and the labor market is a seller’s market.  Unions have more leverage over management at such times.  Right now, workers are going to be much less eager to risk losing a job when they are not at all sure they would be able to get another.

Second, there is the fact that the world’s economy is rapidly globalizing.  This means that American companies are increasingly having to compete with many overseas companies.  This reduces their ability to pay high wages and otherwise give in to union demands.  We have seen unions such as the United Auto Workers have to make significant concessions because of how badly their companies are doing in the competition with foreign companies.

Finally, public sentiment on labor issues has turned in favor of management in recent times.  Union membership is very low in the private sector and people increasingly see unions not as the protectors of workers but as greedy organizations that try to get what is best for them without regard to what is reasonable.  This, too, harms unions in their negotiations.

For these reasons, power has certainly shifted to management in these negotiations.