Can LO Work in a Unionized Environment? LO11746

Gerald Burch (
Wed, 08 Jan 1997 15:05:25 -0800

Replying to LO11651 --

Joe Katzman wrote:
> James wrote:
> > The W2 legislation currently has minimal time provisions for training
> > for current and future welfare recipients before they must obtain
> > employment. The union and the administration have developed a high level
> > of alignment in how to deal with this legislation, as well as how to
> > change it to more effectively meet the needs of both the state and the
> > welfare recipients.
> In other words: "Yes, they can work together. Provided they are faced with
> an immediate external threat to both of their interests, and a deadline to
> concentrate the mind."
> What about less drastic situations?

I've been lurking for quite some time, and enjoying the conversation.

Now, as a practitioner with some first hand experience, I feel compelled
to speak out and say, unequivicollaly - yes! LO can and does work in a
unionized environment provided certain conditions are met. The
overgeneralization - "unionized environment" - implies a highly charged,
antagonistic relationship between management and the employees. I am plant
manager of a chemical facility where our wage employees are represented by
the Teamsters. We have a highly charged, but cooperative situation which
is enhanced by talented union leadership who do in fact put the best
interests of the employees they represent ahead of all else. It is amazing
how unified management and unions can be when the best interests of the
people are at the heart of both parties actions. It can also be very
difficult when either side fails to act in the employees general best
interest. Generally, we think of management's propensity to take
advantage in some fashion. However, unions with national affiliations are
sometimes asked to work an agenda which also may not be in the best
interest of the local employees they purport to represent. It is these
points of departure where we must (and I will) move in separate directions
because the employees interests are being subordinated to the national

In case it is not clear, I believe my union today provides us a
competitive advantage because they do act locally, they are cooperative,
intelligent, and enlightened, and they facilitate the communication and
buy-in process as we journey toward a higher performing organization. If
intentions are pure on both sides, then the presence or absence of a union
is almost irrelevant. If intentions are masked or if one side is trying to
gain an advantage over another, then the journey will be difficult
regardless of the union/nonunion structure.


Gerald Burch <>

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