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Nonwage Issues. “Wage” and “Nonwage” Issues. Issues are related across these broad categories and more detailed categories Parties trade across categories

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wage and nonwage issues
“Wage” and “Nonwage” Issues
  • Issues are related across these broad categories and more detailed categories
    • Parties trade across categories
    • “Primary-secondary” effects notion, e.g., ERs change some nonwage terms in response to union wage effects, union counters, ER counters that, and so on ...
  • Wage issues often get more attention simply because they’re easier to measure (like the drunk looking for his lost keys under the streetlamp …)
  • Nonwage issues can involve critical principles for management (e.g., GM on “production standards”) and/or involve high financial stakes
  • Similarly for workers and unions (not always the same, of course)
a wide variety of issues
Work design

Hours of work

Federal laws (FLSA)

Contract terms

Entitlements and restrictions

Shift assignment and shift differentials

Innovative work schedules

Paid time off

Contract length

Management rights

Discipline and discharge

Grievance arbitration

Strikes and lockouts

Union rights and security

Work conditions and safety

Seniority and job security

Layoff and recall

Promotion and transfer

Time away from work

No discrimination

Union effects


Promotion, transfer, and T/O

Retirement programs

Job satisfaction

A Wide Variety of Issues
focus on three key areas
Focus on Three Key Areas
  • Management rights or prerogatives
  • Union security clauses and “right to work” laws
  • Worker seniority rights
management rights
Management Rights
  • What rights?
    • Rights to hire, fire, discipline, decide what to produce, prices, production methods, investment decisions, etc.
    • In short, the right to manage
  • Two extreme views and a “middle path”
    • Rights stem from property. Management is agent for owners. Thus, all rights are management’s unless there’s explicit restriction (law, CB agmt.). Consistent with reserved rights (a.k.a. residual rights) view expressed by many or most arbitrators (if contract silent)
    • Property rights don’t apply to humans (workers). There are no inherent management rights
    • A middle path: Interests of all parties to be considered, balanced
  • Contract provisions
    • Most (80%) contain some form. Does absence imply NO mgmt. rights?
    • Is a long clause detailing rights better than a “short form”?
some common limitations on management rights
Some Common Limitations on Management Rights
  • General notion of implied obligations (e.g., a safe and healthy work place)
  • Discipline limited by “just cause” requirement
  • Subcontracting (a.k.a. contracting out and outsourcing)
    • Various motivations (expertise, temporary surge, “union busting”)
    • Mandatory subject, can be and often is limited by contract
      • Bans are rare (2% of contracts)
      • Limitations common (about 50% of agreements): Where layoffs exist, work could be done by EEs, advance notice required
  • Work standards, work rules, etc. (e.g., “pegged rates”)
    • Often have (or had) legitimate basis, but “evolve” beyond that (Aussie “pat man”?) thanks to “scarcity consciousness” and lax management
    • Not unique to union settings, but more formal and harder to change there
    • Management role evident by likelihood in less competitive industries
union security clauses and related union rights
Main types of clauses

Closed shop (illegal)

Union shop (60% of clauses) after 30 days (7 in construction)

Agency shop (12% of clauses)


Modified union shop

Open shop (a.k.a. merit shop)

Other types of clauses

Quasi-union shop in RTW states

Check-off clause (dues deduct.)

Hiring halls (can’t discriminate)

Pre-hire agreements (construct.)

Accretion agreements

Legal issues

Union shop actually enforceable only as agency shop. Buckley decision: Can require dues and fees normally required of members, not membership

Beck decision: Agency shop fee can be limited to CB activities

Pre-hire agreement status in flux: Unilateral repudiation by ER even with no notice to union

NLRB involvement

De-authorization poll available

Authorization formerly required, but a waste of time

Union Security Clauses and Related Union Rights
rtw right to work laws
Nature, history, geography

Make union shop illegal or unenforceable; some ban agency shop also

Permitted by T-H’s Sec. 14(b); a political compromise

Currently 21 states (since 1986)

Mostly south, plains, mountains


Protect individual freedom of contract, prevent compulsory unionism

Makes unions more responsive

Protect free speech rights; protect “conscientious objector”


Restrict freedom of contract between union and ER, conflict with majority rule principle

Weaken unions (80% of NRTWC supporters are ERs)

Encourages free-riding (“all benefit, all should pay”)

Symbol or substance?

Some correlates noted (e.g., membership, expenses)

Cause and effect relations and interpretations less clear

Free riders more likely to vote for unions

RTW (“Right to Work”) Laws
worker seniority rights
Worker Seniority Rights
  • Pervasive and controversial (especially among young)
    • Benefits status seniority less an issue (vacation, pension)
    • Competitive status seniority (layoff, recall, promotion, transfer)
  • Used extensively in both union and nonunion firms
    • Weight given seniorityUnion FirmsNonunion Firms
    • In layoffs/heavy wt. 95% 70%
    • In layoffs/strict 68% 28%
    • In promotion/heavy wt. 68% 40%
    • Ditto, but hourlies only 68% 53%
  • How it’s used for promotion in union contracts
    • Strict 3%
    • Main factor 40%
    • With equal qualifications 40%
    • Other or unstated 17%
worker seniority rights1
Worker Seniority Rights
  • Used and defined differently for different purposes
    • Promotions likely to use narrower units (e.g., departmental), less weight
    • Layoffs: broad units (e.g., plant-wide seniority), more weight
    • “Bumping rights” often specified when narrower units used
  • Some generalizations on preferences
    • Management favors narrower units and less wt.; better for efficiency?
    • Workers and unions focus on equity; favor broader units
  • Why is seniority used so extensively?
    • Objective
    • Easy to measure
    • Correlates with skill to some degree (learning curve idea)
    • Perceived as fair by workers (a norm of cumulative “job property rights”?)
  • Seniority effects on compensation noted earlier. Other effects less clear (e.g., efficiency and inefficiency)