Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 61
8 LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS A theme underlying the various ways in which companies have responded to the issues rained in earlier chapters of this report is that an individual's activities and compensation are not determined by technology alone. They result f rom manage r ial choices about how people should be employed and, in unionized settings, f rom the relationship between union and management. In traditional adversarial conditions, union and management can benefit from a large number of narrow job classifications. Management pays the average worker less for performing relatively low-.killed jobs, while the union has more workers employed as well as an elaborate job security mechanism to protect workers with high seniority in specific job classifications. If neither side trusts the other, such a system will be self- perpetuating. In the long run, however, this system may hurt both union and management if their foreign and domestic competitors employ their workers more effec- tively and produce higher quality products at lower cost. The committee's Rite visits produced a good deal of evidence that both union and management can benefit from a broader definition of jobs. Management benefits from workers who are better trained and who can exercise the judgment needed to operate and maintain expensive equipment. The union benefits by its members' having more secure employment, more interesting and challenging jobs, and higher pay. Noted in the report are a number of instances in which cooperation and joint problem solving between unions and management about ANT were part of a general change in the balance between cooperative and adversarial processes. Today's forms of union-management cooperation, often born of adversity and championed by particular leaders, may 61
OCR for page 62
62 pose complex dilemmas for both union and management as they move in this direction. These problems may be complicated by jurisdictional issues between unions. For example, the site visits suggest that advanced manufacturing technology requires more skill and knowl- edge in operation and maintenance than does traditional technology. How that skill and knowledge will be distributed between nonunion, white-collar professionals and workers in the bargaininq unit can be a source of controversy. Committee evidence suggests that some managers are reversing a pattern of recent decades and assigning multiskilled tasks to workers in the bargaining unit. Direct consideration and discussion of these issues is a necessary part of implementation planning for ANT in unionized workplaces. The committee has not explored how far it in reasonable to go toward joint planning of technology and other matters of mutual concern. QUALITY OF LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS Implementation of ANT in a way that benefits managers and workers (and their undone) requires strong labor- management relations. In addition, both groups need an understanding of how to deal with a number of issues that arise from the introduction of new technology. Today' ~ competitive environment provides adequate reason for union and management to improve their rela- tionship. Self-serving tactics divert the time and energy of both workers and managers from producing higher quality products more efficiently and thereby securing jobs. A better labor-manage~ent relationship can lead to improved performance regardless of whether the plant inverts in new technology. But a plant that invests in new technology is even more likely to reach its full productive potential if it has a good labor-management relationship. Managers would be well advised to begin working to improve the relationship before introducing new technol- ogy. One way to begin is to introduce quality-circle or quality of-working-life programs in the plant. Several of the unionized sites visited had such programs before new technology was introduced. Management and union officials at these sites reported that the programs gave them experience in working cooperatively on subjects of mutual interest. These programs helped them recognize
OCR for page 63
63 that it was possible to solve problems and bargain with the same people, depending on the issue and circumstances. These programs are particularly important if manager. use the quality of the relationship as a criterion for deciding whether to invest in a particular plant. National contracts affecting most of the unionized sites visited require management to notify the union of plans to introduce new technology. One indicator of the quality of the labor-management relationship is the willingness of management to notify the union an early as possible and the extent to which management involves the union in implementing the new technology. The union could be involved an early as the selection or design of the technology. Union officers or members at five unionized sites (I, X, M, O. and Q) accompanied engineers on tripe to vendors and made recommendations on what equipment to buy. Knowledgeable union officers or rank-and-file employees can also offer ideas on how to make the equipment operate more effectively on the shop floor, how jobs might be designed, planning for displace- ment, training, and no on. If consulted early, the union may be an advocate for the new technology, arguing that it is the only way in the long run to retain members' jobs. In fact, union officials at two of the sites visited (plants F and O) specifically said they frequently make this point to their membership. Such advocacy is much lest likely to occur if the union in not informed about the technology until all key decisions have been made. The union may oppose what it views as decisions made without consider- ing union members' interest.. Union officials who participate in decisions about the introduction of new technology are taking some political risk in the interest of maintaining the health of the industries and plants where their members are employed. They might be seen by their members as Being in manage- meet's pocket,. as one manager put it. Union officiate willing to take this r isk seem to recognize that greater risk may lie in doing nothing or opposing everything that management initiates. The consequence of such a position may be a plant becoming noncompetitive and subsequent loss of jobs for union members. To deal intelligently with issues that arise from the introduction of new technology, managers and union of f icials at the industry and plant levels need to keep up-to-date on developments in ANT and their implications for labor relations. Corporate managers and national
OCR for page 64
64 union officers are in a natural leadership position to educate their plant-level counterparts about ANT and to develop policies to deal with it. MODIFYING CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT Most of the sites visited were experimenting with combining existing job classifications into broad-scoped or multiskilled job classifications. The total number of job classifications was thereby reduced. Managers at three unionized plants (F. O. and Q) agreed to create a new, higher paying classification for ANT jobs, primarily to prevent the occupants from being bumped during layoffs. All three sites are existing plants in which the Majority of workers held traditional jobs: seniority is plantwide, so workers with high seniority in such jobs can bump down to lower-rated jobs to avoid being laid off. With the new job classifica- tion, management gains come flexibility in assignments and assures continuity for workers it trains for ANT jobs. These workers receive higher pay and greater job security, but the number of job classifications increased by one. Management at a fourth unionized site (R) proposed such an arrangement, but the union rejected it because it did not want to tamper with basic seniority provisions while a high percentage of its membership wan laid off. New job classifications need not be created to gain flexibility in assignment. At two of the unionized plants (I and M), workers in skilled trades informally agreed to perform work normally performed by other skilled trades. All received the same pay and retained their skilled trades identification under the contract. Thus, flexibility can be greater in practice than it may appear to be on paper. Workers have important reasons for retaining their skilled trades identification. State laws may specify criteria for apprentice and journeyman status in a particular trade, and workers may need their identity as electrician, pipe fitter, millwright, and so on, if they leave their present employer and seek a job on the open market. Lines of demarcation between trades within a particular plant are established by custom and past practice. In come cases, the plant culture and the degree of trust between the local union and plant management can offer as much flexibility as a formal change of rules.
OCR for page 65
65 INTEGRITY OF TEE BARGAINING UNIT Management and union need to agree on criteria for what work will remain in the bargaining unit. Thin task is complicated by the blurring of distinctions between professional and shop-floor work with AMT. As a result, both parties may view the introduction of AMT as an opportunity to try to change the bargaining unit in their own favor. The outcome most likely to avoid controversy, at least initially, is the status quo; jobs that replace work done by members of the bargaining unit can remain in the bargaining unit. This appears to be the solution most likely to avoid controversies that would interfere with the implementation of AMT technology. But it is important to recognize that this approach may or may not lead to an optimal use of the new technology, and therefore must be carefully considered. Union and management at several of the plants visited raised issues related to the diminishing boundaries between management and work force functions with AMT, but no trend was apparent in how they were dealing with it. Computer programming by production workers, for example, was an issue in some places but not others. The coe- mittee talked to shop-floor workers in nonunion nettings who could write, or at least proofread and edit, software programs. In some unionized settings, programming by shop-f loor workers was an issue because of the impact it might beve on the bargaining unit. At one unionized site (plant O), the issue was not the worker's ability to write or modify programs, but that the program in question involved scheduling, which is traditionally a management function. EMPLO ~ ENT SECURITY Employment security is often a prerequisite for union acceptance of changes described in this report. The job classification system, for example, currently serves in part as a Mechanism for handling layoff and shift assign- ments. It will be difficult for union and manageannt to agree on reducing job classifications when bumping rights and shift preferences are based on seniority in classifi- cations. A system of radically fewer job classifications is more likely to be accepted in a new, highly automated plant than is a gradual shift to fewer classifications in an existing plant. Fewer job classifications in any
OCR for page 66
66 plant means that straight seniority will eventually play a greater role in determining bumping and shift prefer- ences; a plant with a single job classif ication would have a pure seniority system. A gradual shift to fewer job classifications, however, will still provide safe niches for some employees, and they will not readily give them up. Most of the sites visited had policies for providing employment for workers displaced by technological change. Such workers were offered other Jobs with the company and retraining where necessary. The majority of the sites, however, did not guarantee job security in a business downturn. Many of the plants expected to employ fewer workers in the next few years, but thought they could handle the reduction by attrition and plant tran.- fer.. m e management at one site (plant F) anticipated that it would employ the same number of workers in 10 years, even though it expected to invest heavily in new technology, because it foresaw a substantial increase in business. Employment security may be greater, in general, for workers in highly automated plants as labor costs shift from variable to fixed. A stable but smaller number of workers will be required to operate the plant regardless of the volume of output. Protection can be provided to workers who might otherwise be displaced by technological change, however. A company can guarantee employment, for example, as long as an employee is willing to be trained for a new Job. The 1984 agreement between General Motors Corporation and the United Auto Workers established the Job Opportunity Bank-Security (JOBS), to which employees displaced by new technology can be assigned at full pay and benef its. While in the ~bank, ~ employees can be a-signed to training programs or to fill in for other workers who are themselves in training programs. A similar program is the Protected Employee Program (PEP) at Ford Motor Company. None of the companies visited reported any involuntary loss of employment directly attributable to technological change. Workers whose jobs were displaced by new technology were being retrained for new jobs or given the opportunity to transfer to another plant within the company. The plant managers believed that attrition would be sufficient to accommodate any work force reductions that resulted from new technology. Some of the plants had workers on layoff because of a decline in business. Workers or union officials interviewed at the
OCR for page 67
67 plants, however, did not view the layoffs as the result of new technology. Most sites had stable employment because of increased demand for a superior product or because they were bringing previously subcontracted work back into the plant. The reason for the latter is that the new tech- nology in so expensive that plants try to run two and three shifts a day to shorten the payback period on the investment. While plants that do previously subcon- tracted work may not suffer loss of employment, the companies that lost the work probably will. One aspect of employment stability directly under management's control is how well it plans for plant start-up with new technology. If a company plans for too rapid a start-up to full capacity, it will need a much larger number of support and maintenance personnel early, but may have to reduce that number as the plant approaches steady-state conditions. Planning for a gradual buildup to full capacity may permit a more predictable increase in the personnel needed to operate the plant and avoid the need to lay off people later. Personnel planning requires care in both unionized and nonunionized settings. Management has less flexibility in unionized settings, however, because of its limited ability to hire nonunion people, such as ~job-shoppers,. to cope with temporary surges in personnel needs. Unions rarely accept the employment of people who would normally do the work of members they represent.
Representative terms from entire chapter: