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Journal Article

Automation-End or a New Day in Unionism?

James L. Stern
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 350, The Crisis in the American Trade-Union Movement (Nov., 1963), pp. 25-35
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1036258
Page Count: 11
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Automation-End or a New Day in Unionism?
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Abstract

Automation adversely affects unions by changing the nature of work and reducing the solidarity of the work group. Strikes become more difficult to conduct because automation facilitates continued operation by nonbargaining-unit personnel. Organizational efforts are retarded by the changes in occupational characteristics, number, and location of jobs in the various sectors of the economy. Union power is reduced by the erosion of the bargaining unit caused by the creation of the increased number of technical jobs outside of the traditional unit. Automation enables corporations to extend their boundaries across industry lines while political considerations presently prevent the unions from revising their structure to match the increased corporate power at the bargaining table. Although all of these considerations make the task of the union more difficult, none of these pose insurmountable problems. A reorientation of union program and function in line with the changes in work, in occupational characteristics, and in the background and attitudes of new young potential members is possible. Solidarity may be rebuilt upon common vocational interests in the establishment of nationally recognized training programs for the new technical occupations. Declining effectiveness of strikes may be offset by increasing effectiveness of political activity to achieve union goals.

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