[Excerpt] Statistics compiled by the American Electronics Association—a leading defender of high tech's "union-free environment'—indicate the difficulty unions have had organizing electronics workers. The AEA surveyed almost 1,200 firms about union activity in their plants between 1971 and 1982. They reported fewer than 100 NLRB representation elections during that period, with unions winning only 21.

These figures understate labor's problem. Through a sophisticated mixture of paternalism and repression, the high tech industry has prevented the vast majority of employee organizing efforts from reaching the stage of a Labor Board election. As a result, the AEA's 1900 member companies have only 90 union contracts.

In this article, we will examine the job problems facing high tech workers, the factors inhibiting union organizing in their industry, the experiences of some recent high tech campaigns, and strategies for overcoming the obstacles to worker self-organization in this crucial sector of the U.S. economy.