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Abstract:

Manpower Human Resource Lab Paper
From the Two Faces of Unionism to the Facebook Society: Union Voice in a 21st Century Context
Alex Bryson, Rafael Gomez and P Willman April 2008
Paper No' MHRLDP0006:
Full Paper (pdf)

Tags: unions; union membership

Union membership has declined precipitously in the US over the past 40 years. Can anything be done to stem this decline? This paper argues that union voice is an attribute (among others) of union membership that is experiential in nature and that unlike the costs of unionisation, can be discerned only after joining a union. This makes the act of ‘selling’ unionism to workers (and to some extent firms as well) rather difficult. Supportive social trends and social customs are required in order to make union membership’s many hard-to-observe benefits easier to discern. Most membership based institutions face the same dilemma. However, recent social networking organizations such as Facebook and other on-line communities have been rather successful in attracting millions of members in a relatively short period of time. The question of whether the union movement can appropriate some of these lessons is discussed with reference to historical and contemporary examples.