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Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment.

This book covers the broad field of labor-management relations or industrial relations by dividing the subject into five major topics or groups of topics. Three have been standard fare for texts of this sort for more than four decades: historic background, labor law, union structure, and international comparisons; unions and collective bargaining; and labor disputes and their resolution.

Two additional topics--public sector unionization and the future of labor-management relations--are of somewhat more recent vintage and a little less ubiquitous in industrial relations texts. The book covers most of the territory in balanced detail. Some material might be abbreviated or omitted entirely, such as a section on California labor law. The authors could have expanded other areas. A set of eight arbitration cases, each detailing the issues, the position of the parties, and pertinent contract provisions, would benefit from the inclusion of the arbitrators' awards. Several important Supreme Court decisions relating to labor relations are missing from the text. For example, although there is quite extensive coverage of the current issue of employers who hire permanent replacements of workers who strike for economic reasons, there is no mention of the Mackay Radio case of 1938, in which the Supreme Court found this practice to be permitted under the law.

The book is not encumbered with verbiage and flows Smoothly. Information and ideas are presented coherently. Facts are footnoted and an extensive list of references follows each chapter. The book ends with a "negotiating exercise," providing information (even about the bargainers' personalities) for a mock bargaining session that could serve as an exciting culminating activity for students in an introductory course in labor-management relations.

Labor-management Relations falls short of the mark in objectivity. This stems from the author's tendency to present opinions as facts and his failure to present both sides of certain issues. For example, in describing the events surrounding the 1981 strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), the authors give the impression that the dismissed strikers were the innocent victims of the administration's animosity toward unions. They downplay the illegality of the strike, omit any mention of organized labor's failure to support the Patco action, and wind up by stating--incorrectly--that the firing of the strikers is the only instance in which government punished public sector employees engaged in an illegal strike.

On another front, it would be helpful to readers if some of the terms had been defined, and a more careful review and edit would have corrected occasional factual errors.

Despite its flaws, most of which are easily remedied, this book is a useful addition to the literature. Going beyond covering the conventional topics in the field, which it does comprehensively, the book discusses new issues likely to be of concern to students of labor management relations for the next few years, such as the changing relationship between unions and employers and the future of organized labor as an institution. In addition, extensive references give the student a guide to further research into topics the book covers.
COPYRIGHT 1993 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Bauman, Alvin
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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