Do a Reaction Paper for this week and for the lecture lesson for that chapter in one combined reaction paper.

Outlines for lecture/lessons come from, Instructor’s Manual with Test Bank for Hodson and Sullivan’s, The Social Organization of Work, Third Edition, by Teresa A. Sullivan.


Dr. Ellis alters outline and commentary as appropriate to meet his teaching needs. Remember, you are not answering these questions.  You can incorporate these ideas into your reaction papers based on the readings.  These lectures/lessons can help you prepare for the kind of questions that will appear on the exams.  Exam questions are based on these lessons and on the readings.


Chapter 6 Lecture/Lesson


After reading this chapter students should be able to:


  1. Explain why workers seek collective responses to their workplace.
  2. Distinguish among general unions, craft unions, and industrial unions.
  3. Describe the major problems faced by labor unions in North America during the 1990s.
  4. Describe the different types of reactions among employers to efforts to organize.
  5. Identify two pieces of national legislation that have affected the development of labor unions.
  6. Summarize current innovative union plans.




I.                   Why do people need labor organizations?

  1. Union membership

II.                An outline of North American labor History

  1. Local craft unions
    1. The problem of solidarity
  2. Workers’ political parties
  3. Early national unions
    1. A central role for railroads
    2. May Day, 1886
    3. The Pullman Strike
  4. General unions: The Knights and the Wobblies
    1. The Knights of Labor
    2. The Industrial Workers of the World
  5. The AFL and craft unionism
    1. Strikes and collective bargaining
  6. The CIO and industrial unionism
    1. Sit-down strikes in mass production
    2. The Flint Sit-down Strike
    3. Legislative Gains
  7. The Postwar Retrenchment
    1. The Taft-Hartley Amendments
    2. McCarthyism in Right-wing attacks
  8. Facing new challenges
    1. Racial equality
    2. Women in unions
    3. Public-sector unions
    4. Professional workers
    5. Farm workers
  9. Lessons from labor history

III.             Labor unions at the bargaining of the Twenty-First Century


  1. Current Union roles
    1. Collective bargaining
    2. Strikes
    3. Lobbying
    4. Unmet membership concerns
  2. Growing and Declining Unions
    1. Industrial shifts
    2. International competition
    3. Increased company resistance
    4. Growth Areas
    5. International comparisons
  3. Innovative union programs for the 2000s
    1. The national legislative agenda
    2. Promoting safety and health
    3. A broader role in the manufacturing sector
    4. Organizing low-wage workers
    5. New organizing and bargaining strategies
    6. Improving the image of unions


1.      Unions as Social Capital

Along with providing a means to redress grievances with employers, labor unions have also provided a mediating institution for socializing new workers, helping workers gain a political voice, and developing social policy. Institutions not individuals affect social policy in the United States. The role of labor unions in fulfilling these roles for workers is often overlooked.


2.      Management’s View of Unions

The perspective of management on unions often stresses inefficiency and costliness as drawbacks of collective bargaining. Does this managerial perspective persuade you? Do managers think this way because they feel that unions take power and control of the workers out of the hands of management?  Do unions/union activity cost management time, profits, and labor power?


3.      Solidarity versus Coercion

Worker solidarity required minimizing the effects of the “free riders.” This is one of the reasons that unions oppose the “right-to-work” laws that were enacted in several states after passage of the Taft-Hartley Act.  Others, however, argue that coercing workers to join unions is merely tyranny. Individuals acting in their own self-interest may sabotage a higher level of welfare that could have been achieved collectively.


4.      Michel’s Iron Law and Union Democracy

Unions are often criticized for their lack of internal democracy. Unions along with many other membership organizations, may be subject to Michel’s Iron Law of Oligarchy. What is Michel’s Iron Law of Oligarchy?  Who will look this up or must the professor tell the students? Is there a lack of internal democracy in this class or is the Iron Law of Oligarchy in operation more so in this class – an online course at that?


5.      Alternatives to Unions

Employee associations, professional associations, and other such groups serve as alternatives to unions in some companies and industries. Do these alternatives work? The American Sociological Association is my professional organization, but I work on a campus with a union (The American Federation of Teachers (AFT)) in a profession/campus with other professors under a bunch of American associations for college teachers.  How confusing is that?  Who is my boss?  Who controls my actions? Who has my back? Some analysts also see total Quality Management as a management strategy that is an alternative to unions. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this alternative?


6.      Consider Your Own Current and Future Careers/Professions

What worker organizations exist and how extensive are they?  How many workers are unionized and what are the characteristics of the union?  See the January issues of Employment and Earnings or the biannual Report of the AFL-CIO Executive Council (Washington, DC). What are the current issues facing teachers’ unions? How do unions negotiate the terms of employment and work conditions for employees?..  How hot or cold should a classroom be – temperature of working conditions, elevators, availability of air quality information to all workers, parking, reasonable accommodations, “personal” locker space, safety – if you are required to teach at night is there safety/police escorts for those who request it, childcare, tuition reimbursement, accommodations for nursing mothers/lactation stations, drug rehabilitation, promotion opportunities that are clearly worded and easily accessible to all employees, if bathroom facilities are not available in the building you are working in and the only building near is a ten minute walk, it this a reasonable accommodation or is it time to go home?…. Are unions like big brother or big sister watching management for you?  If so, what issues would you want them advocating for you?


Do unions play a role in worker motivation more than management? What leads to worker sabotage, worker sick outs, worker slow downs, worker atrophy, etc.?


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