Although the obstacles to employee organization appear daunting, this is an exciting time to be involved in the American labor movement. Just as the movement had to adapt as industrial methods of production were adopted around the dawn of the twentieth century, so too must it now adapt to the changed circumstances of the working people under the new information technology in a global economy. Employee interest in some form of representation or mutual aid and support remains high, as workers confront issues of increased risk, lower job security, and pervasive downward pressure on wages and benefits.
In this essay, Professor Dau-Schmidt examines how the American labor movement is responding to the challenges of the new economic environment in new and creative ways. He argues that, as employers become "boundaryless" using the new information technology in the global economy, unions will have to become "boundaryless" and organize on multi-employer, sectoral, occupational, professional, national, or international bases. He also asserts that we are likely to see worker organizational objectives that transcend the objectives of higher wages and benefits from a particular employer sought through traditional bread-and-butter collective bargaining. Higher wages and better working conditions will of course remain one of the primary objectives of worker organizations, but they may be achieved within the context of larger area standards contracts, corporate codes of conduct, local and state laws, national laws, or international treaties. Finally, Professor Dau-Schmidt argues that we are likely to see more employee collective action that surmounts the traditional strategies of withholding labor or boycotting goods to achieve higher wages and benefits for the employees of a particular employer. Strikes and boycotts will continue to be important weapons in labor's arsenal, but workers also will use other weapons—supporting and organizing worker efforts to enforce their legal rights outside of the collective bargaining relationship and using the political process to achieve successes that cannot be won at the bargaining table.
Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt,
The Changing Face of Collective Representation: The Future of Collective Bargaining,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol82/iss2/22