Law Quadrangle (formerly Law Quad Notes)


The following article is reprinted from the proceedings of the New York University Forty-First Annual National Conference on Labor © 1988 by New York University. Published by Matthew Bender & Co., Inc., New York. Reprinted with permission.

"'Cooperation' sounds too much like 'cooption.' 'Collaboration' recalls the Nazis in occupied Europe. Words are important in labor relations. A word we like is 'jointness.' Another is 'involvement."' With comments like those, a top United Automobile Workers official recently pinpointed one of the most significant and controversial developments in contemporary industrial life - the substitution of a new unionmanagement attitude of condiation and togetherness for the parties' traditional adversarial stance.

In this paper I shall briefly trace the rise of participative management, as the process is often called, using the experience of General Motors and the UAW as my prime example. The phenomenon will then be placed in historical perspective, and contrasting assessments of its desirability and future potential will be discussed. Finally, I shall try to evaluate some of the more important legal and economic implications of "jointness" and employee involvement in management decisionmaking.