NEGOTIATING THE FUTURE: A Labor Perspective on American Business by Barry & Irving Bluestone Bluestone

NEGOTIATING THE FUTURE: A Labor Perspective on American Business

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How US labor and management can compete effectively with foreign producers, by the father-and-son team of Irving Bluestone (Labor Studies/Wayne State Univ.) and Barry Bluestone (coauthor, The Deindustrialization of America, 1982). Hands-on union experience (Bluestone pore was a ranking assistant to Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers during the 60's) plus considerable economic sophistication are evident here. The result is a well-written, fact-based analysis of the basic pact between labor and management from WW II onward, and a thesis on how to improve it. The Bluestones cull the essentials of agreements from the ""glory clays"" (late 40's-early 70's) and see a missing ingredient: pervasive union participation, especially in strategic corporate decisions. Crucial to the authors' thinking is the idea that a new ""work culture"" must be created through a revised union-management relationship based on the 1984 Levering-Moskowitz-Katz study 100 Best Companies to Work for in America, which indicated that companies transcending limitations of typical US contractual arrangements enjoyed greater worker involvement and a sense of common goals, thus improving productivity. The Bluestones, however, lack a long-range view: Their expertise doesn't address union history sufficiently to include the evolution from Wobbly idealism to infiltration by organized crime and petrification by bureaucracy; nor do they come to terms with the national malaise created by the interaction of the seemingly unattainable American dream, loss of morale, and drug/alcohol dependency. Finally, the effects of industrial automation combined with cheap, efficient labor may not be much affected by the means suggested here. Right as far as it goes, but falling far short of solving a problem that is as much international and cultural as institutional.

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 1992
ISBN: 0465049184
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Basic Books