Quality of Work Life in Labor Prespective

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Labor Research Review
Volume 1 | Number 7 New Tactics for Labor 1985 Article 2

Quality of Worklife from a Labor Perspective: A Review Essay on Inside the Circle Ruth Needleman

This Article is brought to you for free and open access by DigitalCommons@ILR. It has been accepted for inclusion in Labor Research Review by an authorized administrator of DigitalCommons@ILR. For more information, please contact jdd10@cornell.edu. © 1985 by Labor Research Review

Quality of Worklife from a Labor Perspective: A Review Essay on Inside the Circle Abstract

[Excerpt]Early union advocates of quality of worklife (QWL) programs envisioned a movement to reform the workplace and to re-educate management to recognize and reward workers for their intelligence, resourcefulness and skills. Today QWL has become almost synonymous with labor-management cooperation, a national campaign whose stated goal is economic revitalization of U.S. industries. According to business and government, cooperation is a prerequisite for restoring the United States' economic fortunes. Unions are being pressured to commit personnel and resources to promote QWL. While emphasizing mutuality of interests, business has in practice been more persuasive in its use of economic blackmail. On the one hand, corporations promise increased employee participation and a more satisfying work environment. On the other hand, they warn unions that any reluctance on their part to cooperate could translate into plant closures and "union-avoidance" programs. Keywords

quality of worklife, QWL

This article is available in Labor Research Review: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/lrr/vol1/iss7/2


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Quality of Worklife:

QWL from a Labor Perspective:
A Review Essay on Inside the Circle
• Ruth Needleman

Early union advocates of quality of worklife (QWL) programs envisioned a movement to reform the workplace and to re-educate management to recognize and reward workers for their intelligence, resourcefulness and skills. Today QWL has become almost synonymous with labor-management cooperation, a national campaign whose stated goal is economic revitalization of U.S. industries. According to business and government, cooperation is a prerequisite for restoring the United States' economic fortunes. Unions are being pressured to commit personnel and resources to promote QWL. While emphasizing mutuality of interests, business has in practice been more persuasive in its use of economic blackmail. On the one hand, corporations promise increased employee participation and a more satisfying work environment. On the other hand, they warn unions that any reluctance on their part to cooperate could translate into plant closures and "union-avoidance" programs. Unions face a limited and difficult set of choices, given the •Ruth Needleman is Coordinator of the Division of Labor Studies at Indiana University Northwest in Gary. She has taught numerous QWL training programs for local unions in Indiana.

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QUALITY OF WORKLIFE

deteriorating state of manufacturing industries, the increased export of jobs and labor's own declining membership, bargaining power and public image. By no means does organized labor contest the need for improved cooperation. In fact, through collective bargaining and effective grievance procedures, unions have always sought to eliminate antagonisms from the workplace. But the current anti-labor environment casts a shadow over new management initiatives for cooperation, and has provoked extensive debate among unionists on the pros and cons of QWL. Many question the motives of management and, for that matter, of the Reagan administration for endorsing QWL programs so enthusiastically. After...
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