When to Avoid and when to Collaborate with Unions?

Unionization is on the decline and are slowly engaged less and less in the market. The era of heavily unionized environments is all but over and is on life support. Despite their weakened state some unions are pushing back for market share in the unionization process. The strategies companies will take are partially dependent on the health of the firm. 

Strategies of union avoidance, collaboration and mixed approaches is often based on the strength of the firm (Cooke & Meyer, 1990). Union avoidance occurs in poor market conditions while collaboration occurs when companies have high profit margins and already have a portion of their plants already unionized. 

It is also possible that  company could opt for a mixed strategy. When a company has a lot of plants, high capital investment and labor intensive skills they are likely to use multiple approaches. At times one plant might adopt unionization while another avoids its completely.

Unionization was once a major part of corporate strategy. Service businesses such as casinos and hotels unionization is becoming more common. The push is to move to more non-traditional businesses in an effort to grow membership, increase revenue and encourage collective bargaining. In today's world it is alive but is shifting form to something that crosses the boundaries between unionization and employment services.  

Cook, W. & Meyer, D. (1990). Structural and market predictors of corporate labor relations strategies. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 43 (2). 


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