chapter  15
25 Pages

Intensity of Management Resistance: Understanding the Decline of Unionization in the Private Sector

Management resistance to unionization has long been considered a deterrent to the growth of private sector unions (Perlman, 1928).1 Generally, attempts to stop unions from organizing have included sticks and carrots offered to employees of the firm (Leonard, 1987). Sticks available to management to stop potential unionization efforts include captive-audience speeches by su­ pervisors, harassment of potential union leaders, firing of union leaders, and failing to bargain seriously over first contracts (Bronfenbrenner, 1997; Free­ man and Kleiner, 1990). Carrots offered to employees as part of the effort to stop organizing drives from occurring include pay increases, employee in­ volvement programs, and other types of financial participation in the profits of the firm. For example, employees are 14 to 20 percent less likely to vote for a union when there is an employee participation program compared to where there is none (Freeman et al., 2000). One issue for this symposium is whether these policies have contributed to the decline of private sector unions in the U.S. I focus on the stick portion of employer resistance to unions and its impact on union decline.