[Excerpt] I have been student of collective bargaining my entire career as much of my scholarship and teaching has focused on understanding why and how U.S. collective bargaining evolved over the post-World War II period. What I am now struck by is the fact that various new organizations are being used by employees to pursue group action do as to improve those employees’ terms and conditions of work. Let me first describe how I came to see this emerging trend as the origins of my thinking leads me to a related point about this development, namely, that the U.S. labor relations system is becoming increasingly similar to the labor relations systems that exist in emerging countries.
With Tom Kochan and Alex Colvin three years ago I published a textbook, “Labor Relations in a Globalizing World” (2015). In that book we trace how core principles about bargaining power and negotiations can be used and, in some cases appropriately modified, to describe labor relations in emerging countries. We focus in particular on recent developments in China, India, Brazil and South Africa as case illustrations and also focus on those countries because they are major players in the global economy. As we describe, in emerging countries 2 the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) has become a more significant influence on employees’ terms and conditions of employment than trade unions. This past year Tom, Alex and I published the 5th edition of our U.S. collective bargaining textbook (Katz, Kochan, and Colvin, 2018. In that book we spend a significant amount of space describing how NGO’s have become a significant force within U.S. labor relations. Perhaps it was the fact that we had been alerted to the role that NGO’s are playing in emerging countries that led us to recognize the influence of NGO’s in the U.S. as well as the fact that the growing influence of NGO’s was becoming the subject of labor relations research and current events.