Employer-sponsored employee involvement and participation (EIP) programs have proliferated over the past two decades among American com panies (Lewin, Delaney, and Ichniowski 1989; Lawler, Albers, and Ledford 1992; Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations 1994a). The impetus behind these programs is the desire of companies to improve productivity and lower cost in response to greater competitive pressure, coupled with evidence from academic research and two decades of experimentation in industry that these programs can indeed deliver higher performance and increased employee job satisfaction (Cotton 1993; Kaufman 1997b; Applebaum, Bailey, Berg, and Kalleberg, 2000)
Given the widespread popularity of EIP pro grams, and their apparent success in boosting firm performance and employee job satisfaction, it is not surprising that recent rulings by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB, or Board)—most notably Electromation, Inc. (1992)—have set off considerable controversy and debate (Nunn 1995; Morris 1996; Gely 1997). Thq Electromation rul ing involved Sections 8(a)(2) and 2(5) of the Na tional Labor Relations Act (NLRA). As described
in earlier chapters of this volume (Kaufman, Estreicher), Section 8(a)(2) prohibits employer domination, interference, administration, or finan cial support of a labor organization; and Section 2(5) defines a labor organization very broadly to include any kind of employee group that exists at least in part for the purpose of dealing with employers over one or more terms and conditions of employment.