Reframing the Representation Debate: Going Beyond Union and Non-Union Options
The author argues for replacing the traditional union/non-union dichotomy with a more dynamic, nuanced typology of employment relationships and for viewing the contemporary workplace as an organization with multiple distinct but interacting employment models. Such a framework has clear potential advantages for the public policy debate as well as for those making a strategic choice of employment relations models. Moreover, the framework benefits researchers who may use it to refine their empirical studies of the diverse forms and combinations of representation and voice in contemporary workplaces in order to determine which perform best in different settings for different work groups. The real alternative to union organization, the author suggests, is not “no unions” or lack of representation, but some novative form of representation and voice. Whether these alternatives are sustainable and powerful enough to do the job remains an empirical question that the field should be tackling with greater clarity and vigor.