U.S. Union Revival, Minority Unionism and Inter-Union Conflict

TitleU.S. Union Revival, Minority Unionism and Inter-Union Conflict
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHarcourt, Mark, Lam, Helen, and Wood, Geoffrey
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Volume56
Issue5
Pagination653 - 671
Date Published2014///
Keywordsminority unionism, union certification, union conflict, union revival
Abstract

One option for reversing US union decline, requiring no legislative change, would involve re-legitimizing non-majority or minority union representation, allowing unions to organize without running the gauntlet of union certification. Such minority representation, applicable only to workplaces without majority union support on a members-only basis, could run in parallel with the existing system of exclusive representation in workplaces where majority support is achieved. The increased representation in the currently unrepresented workplaces would inevitably promote workers’ collective voice and contribute to union revival. However, minority unionism has been criticized for breeding union competition because it is non-exclusive. In this paper, the nature and extent of inter-union conflict under minority unionism are re-examined, using survey data from unions in New Zealand which already has non-exclusive, minority union representation. The low levels and consequences of conflict suggest that the benefits of minority unionism far outweigh any potentially unfavourable effects.