Industry-wide collective bargaining.
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This thesis proposes to show that multi-employer bargaining offers a device for promoting uniformity and stability in labor relations, greatly lessening industrial strife and contributing materially to peaceful and mutually beneficial labor relations. Certain methods, arbitrary in choice, were employed. In making selections for purposes of illustration and analysis the criteria stressed were: (1) a sufficiently long period of experience with these selections, and (2) a wide variation in the economic circumstances and experiences with these choices so that instructive analysis could be made. After the discussion of the problem and its validation, followed the definition and description of multi-employer bargaining agreements. Here the basic types of bargaining agreements such as industry-wide, regional, and local agreements indicate a wide variety of possibilities. Along with the more conventional type we have similar agreements not quite as sharply classified but similar enough to be discussed. The estimate of coverage indicates approximately four million workers in all types of industry ranging from manufacturing to service industries. In a review of the growth of multi-employer bargaining which began approximately in the 1870's, chaotic and disorderly conditions preceded the inception of this type of bargaining. In certain industries such as the glass bottle, the stove industry, the hosiery industry and in the coal mining and railroad industries multi-employer bargaining faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. These obstacles included the problems of technological innovation, employment of child labor, and cutthroat competition. Yet, this bargaining technique made a major contribution in bringing peaceful and orderly labor relations to these industries. There are problems encountered in administering multi-employer agreements. These problems have certain varying effects on wages, prices, distribution of the labor force and technological innovation. These effects are different due to the various types of uniformity utilized in the agreements. However, once these administrative difficulties are overcome, the problem of making multi-employer agreements workable will be no more difficult than the problem that piece rate systems presented, years ago. In evaluating multi-employer bargaining, advantages and disadvantages must be taken into consideration and in turn criticized in the light of certain selected criteria. The advantages of equalization of bargaining power, elimination of competition based on wage exploitation, and uniform concerted action have firm foundation. Equally strong are the criticisms that multi-employer bar gaining is monopolistic, wipes out geographical wage differentials while ignoring local variations in economic and social factors, and finally causes the strike incidence and scope to increase, creating harm to the public interest. It can be observed that despite all the conflicting viewpoints, once management is able to equate its bargaining power with labor, which has the initial advantage, stable and orderly industrial relations will be the result. In the light of the investigation certain issues might be pointed out. Multi-employer bargaining seems to be a necessary stage of organization in labor relations. It appears that it is more important to utilize this bargaining technique rather than fighting it. The potentialities offered seem to be able to reward management as well as labor. The overall point of view indicates that the success of this type of bargaining depends on whether management and labor see in it a working proposition, and are able to envision the idea that a community of interest exists between them which makes conflict more wasteful than cooperation. Multi-employer bargain can accomplish this cooperation but cannot be expected to do the job all by itself.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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