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Collective Representation Among High‐Tech Workers at Microsoft and Beyond: Lessons from WashTech/CWA

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Abstract

The obstacles that discourage organizing among high-tech workers are well documented in the industrial relations literature. Discussion about factors that help workers overcome these obstacles, however, is sparse. This case study uses interviews and other evidence to analyze how high-tech workers formed the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech/CWA). I find that WashTech/CWA improved constituents’ working conditions through attempts to engage in collective bargaining, mutual benefit activities, and political action. WashTech/CWA is having greater success using mutual benefits, such as information and training services, and political action in part as a result of the obstacles workers encountered when trying to access collective bargaining.

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... More generally, research shows that unionization continues to be associated with higher wages (Fang and Verma, 2002) and other benefits such as access to training (Boheim and Booth, 2004). At the same time, the challenges facing unions in a global marketplace with growing use o f non-standard workers are also well established (DuRivage, 2000;Van Jaarsveld, 2004;Chaykowski and Gunderson, 2001;Felstead, Ashton, and Green, 2001). Strategic changes in direction by governments in Canada, roughly starting in the 1980s, are also indirectly relevant. ...
... There may be a misconception that only lower level employees are being affected by the changing nature of work. Several studies (Grenon and Chun, 1997;Mallon and Duberley, 2000;Van Jaarsveld, 2004) have established that the use o f temporary 32 employment-arguably the most employer-friendly NSWA of all-now extends to managers and professionals. Intuitively, the workers most likely to be affected by NSWAs-or any employer initiative to increase operational flexibility or productivitywould be blue-collar workers or lower level white collar workers. ...
... Some unions have even reconsidered their stance on non-permanent work and other NSWAs. Unions have also tried to organize non-standard workers (DuRivage, 2000;Martinello, 2000;Van Jaarsveld, 2004). At least half o f unionized firms in Canada are now using some form of employee participation (Thompson, 2001). ...
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This dissertation explores the nature and incidence of several non-standard work arrangements (NSWAs). Statistics confirm the growing prevalence of NSWAs. By 1995, less than one third of Canadian workers were employed in a single full-time, permanent job with a "normal" work schedule. Conventional wisdom suggests that the net effect of the increasing incidence of NSWAs is negative for workers. However, certain NSWAs potentially provide better work-life balance for employees and more flexible utilization of labour for employers. Thus, it is suggested that far too little attention has been paid to the varying nature of particular NSWAs. A typology of NSWAs, consisting of five dimensions and three types, is conceptualized. After examining the dataset and some preliminary data analysis, a modified typology of four dimensions and two types is presented and analyzed. In particular, the two key types of NSWAs are categorized as employee-friendly or employer-friendly. In addition to the typology, the workplace and worker characteristics that affect the incidence of NSWAs is examined. ^ This dissertation has a quantitative research design, and utilizes Statistics Canada's 1999 Workplace and Employee Survey (WES). The chosen dataset and methodology also allow inferences to be made regarding employer strategies. Results suggest that job satisfaction is positively related to employee-friendly NSWAs but negatively related to employer-friendly NSWAs. When controlling for a range of worker and workplace variables, it was found that industry, occupation, gender, tenure, and employee participation are related to the incidence of NSWAs. Finally, consistent with existing research, only a tenuous link was found between workplace outcomes and the incidence of NSWAs. The implication is that the implementation of NSWAs is affected more by employers' strategic choices rather than economic necessity. ^
... More generally, research shows that unionization continues to be associated with higher wages (Fang and Verma, 2002) and other benefits such as access to training (Boheim and Booth, 2004). At the same time, the challenges facing unions in a global marketplace with growing use o f non-standard workers are also well established (DuRivage, 2000;Van Jaarsveld, 2004;Chaykowski and Gunderson, 2001;Felstead, Ashton, and Green, 2001). Strategic changes in direction by governments in Canada, roughly starting in the 1980s, are also indirectly relevant. ...
... There may be a misconception that only lower level employees are being affected by the changing nature of work. Several studies (Grenon and Chun, 1997;Mallon and Duberley, 2000;Van Jaarsveld, 2004) have established that the use o f temporary 32 employment-arguably the most employer-friendly NSWA of all-now extends to managers and professionals. Intuitively, the workers most likely to be affected by NSWAs-or any employer initiative to increase operational flexibility or productivitywould be blue-collar workers or lower level white collar workers. ...
... Some unions have even reconsidered their stance on non-permanent work and other NSWAs. Unions have also tried to organize non-standard workers (DuRivage, 2000;Martinello, 2000;Van Jaarsveld, 2004). At least half o f unionized firms in Canada are now using some form of employee participation (Thompson, 2001). ...
Article
While many studies suggest that non-standard work schedules and locations have negative implications for workers, some indicate positive impacts. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship of these non-standard work arrangements (NSWAs) with job satisfaction, after categorizing the former as being employee-friendly or employer-friendly. This supply-side analysis of the labour market has a quantitative research design, and utilizes Statistics Canada’s 2003 Workplace and Employee Survey (WES) data. As hypothesized, the incidence of employee friendly non-standard work schedules and locations is significantly and positively related to job satisfaction while incidence of employer-friendly examples is significantly and negatively related to job satisfaction. In today’s business climate, employers have the strategic choice to utilize NSWAs to address their operational needs, or the needs of their workers. Although either might make strategic sense, implementing employee-friendly NSWAs potentially benefits both parties concurrently.
... The most notable attempt to organize US high-tech employees in the 1990s stemmed from Microsoft's practice of employing contingent workers (Van Jaarsveld 2004). In 1990 the Internal Revenue Service had ruled that Microsoft had been misclassifying regular employees as independent contractors in order to exclude them from benefits such as the employee stock purchase plan and savings plan. ...
... The lawsuit also mobilized contingent workers at Microsoft to form, in 1998, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), a union that affiliated with the Communication Workers of America. 13 While WashTech has been unsuccessful in gaining union recognition at Microsoft or any other employer, it has wielded a certain amount of political influence in the state of Washington, and has participated in CWA training initiatives (Van Jaarsveld 2004, 373-379). In 2000 WashTech came to the aid of customer service representatives who had been laid off at Amazon.com, and was reportedly able to pressure the company to grant them better severance packages (Wilson and Blain 2001). ...
Article
The Internet boom of the last half of the 1990s seemed to herald the arrival of a "New Economy" with its promise that, after the stagnation of the early 1990s, innovation in information and communication technologies (ICT) would regenerate economic prosperity. The subsequent collapse of the Internet boom at the beginning of the 2000s called into question the New Economy's ability to deliver on this promise - and even raised questions about whether there had really been anything "new" about the economy of the late 1990s after all. Perhaps the journalist John Cassidy (2002) was correct to entitle his well-documented book on the Internet boom "dot.com: the greatest story ever sold". If the "New Economy" was just all smoke and mirrors, one would expect that, once the debris left behind by the storm of speculation and corruption had been cleared away, economic life would return to what it had been before the boom took place.
... The objection is a serious one: such crafts have disappeared (or almost), and the risk of exacerbating conflicts between workers external and internal to the systems of craft protection counsels caution against their resumption. However, research in recent decades, especially in North America, has shown that elements of these policies can be used in today's contexts with regard to both unskilled jobs in services (Cobble, 1991, with a typical case of occupational unionism even practised by hotel waitresses) and to the high-tech ones of semi self-employment in the 'new economy' (Van Jaarsveld, 2004, studying the experience of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers). 12 ...
... Although the signs are scarce, they are not, however, non-existent. They range, to cite only some examples, from the creation of special structures for the representation of atypical workers by the traditional Italian trade union confederations, CGIL and CISL (Accornero, 2005;Marmo, 2008), to the birth of the association of high-tech workers in the state of Washington subsequently affiliated to the CWA (Van Jaarsveld, 2004), to the recent willingness to enrol 'dependent self-employed workers' shown by the Austrian employees' union, GPA, affiliated to the Ö GB (Pernicka, 2006), to the experience of representation of contingent workers in further education in the UK and Austria, showing that 'increasing flexibility in the labour market might lead to a convergence of union strategies across countries' (Pernicka, 2009). ...
Article
This article starts by looking at the intriguing similarities between the ends of the 19th and 20th centuries as far as the relationships between work and systems or structures of production are concerned. It considers the possible options for representing non-standard (or atypical) workers that can be usefully drawn from the past. Work is termed atypical as compared to the institutionalized forms dominant in the era of Taylorist-Fordist industrial production, although atypical work today has significant precedents in the 19th century. With regard to trade union cultures and policies, the thesis is that only by changing the logic and the practice of bargaining action, drawing inspiration from the theory of the Webbs, can suitable forms of representation be found for those components of non-standard labour more distant from the well-defined, stylized figure of the worker of the industrial age. This is a perspective that can represent both extremes of workers that offer their labour on the market: the highly skilled semi-independent worker, and the contingent worker with generic skills, who is possibly a member of the working poor. This could open the way for a unionism under which few would be excluded from collective representation, even if not ‘collective’ in the way understood in the past.
... As academic analyses of the union would later describe, WashTech represented precarious and spatiotemporally insecure high-tech professionals through strategies like memberships at large, a free listserv, and grants from the CWA (Communication Workers Association) rather than through traditional shop contracts (Brophy, 2006;Brophy & de Peuter, 2007;van Jaarsveld, 2004). In this way, WashTech engaged in new ways of organizing under ''digital capitalism'' (Brophy, 2006) and constituted a ''new model of unionism'' (Rodino-Colocino, 2007). ...
... The catalyst for WashTech's founding was the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries' (L&I) 1997 decision, influenced by lobbying from the Washington Software Alliance, to deny overtime pay to computer engineers and programmers who earned over a certain hourly pay (in this case it was $27.63 USD). This event inspired Microsoft ''permatemps'' Mike Blain and Marcus Courtney to found WashTech in March 1998 (van Jaarsveld, 2004). ''Permatemping,'' a derogatory word WashTech publicized, refers to the long-term employment of temporary workers often through temporary agencies that enable employers to deny workers benefits provided to direct hires. ...
Article
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Precarious labor has become an organizing issue for labor movements and a fruitful object of study for critical communication scholars. The work of communication scholars' challenging precarious labor's exploitation, however, has not been adequately explored, perhaps because communication scholars are not engaging in labor activism, but also perhaps because communication research for social justice has not yet been widely embraced. This essay offers remedies for both problems by exploring what I call “participant activism” through analysis of the epistemological and political lessons learned from working as a scholar and activist with WashTech (the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers), a high-tech labor union for precarious workers.
... In redefining the scope and function of labour market intermediaries like labour unions, the transition to neoliberalism decoupled labour market services from 8 labour market advocacy. The shift created a new and expanded market for private forprofit labour market intermediaries while eroding the importance of the advocacy and bargaining services provided by labour unions ( Benner, 2003;Van Jaarsveld, 2004;Carnoy et al., 1997;Peck and Theodore, 2002). It is important to recall that the national-scale neoliberal project championed devolution and deregulation ostensibly to "empower" localities and promote flexible forms of regional governance. ...
Chapter
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Economic geography fixes the lens of analysis on both the scale of economic action and the processes that determine how economic resources are distributed and concentrated across places. This chapter focuses on institutional intermediaries and how they contribute to the evolving practices of self-organizing within local communities through third-sector strategies. The chapter presents three models of ‘third-sector intermediaries’ in cities and regions across the USA illustrating the ways in which third-sector policy strategies operate in local and regional economies both through city governments and in parallel to them. These strategies are the result of variations in the capacities of local communities to address regional economic challenges and increasingly contribute to that diverse landscape. The chapter concludes with a discussion of economic policy implications of these modes of policy design, delivery, and decision-making affecting regional economies and uneven development, local autonomy, institutional intermediaries, city governance, technology diffusion, and policy innovation.
... W podanym przypadku tworzenie związku zawodowego nie ma charakteru stowarzyszenia profesjonalistów, dbających o standardy pracy i limitujących dostęp do zawodu -mamy raczej do czynienia z klasyczną reprezentacją robotników w negocjacjach z pracodawcą. Chociaż doraźnie bez wątpienia tworzenie związków zawodowych pomaga w walce o poprawę warunków pracy i pomaga uzyskać lepsze płace, godziny pracy, a także, co w tej branży jest szczególnie istotne, pewność zatrudnienia (Jaarsveld 2004). Trzeba zwrócić uwagę, że jest to jednocześnie krok bardzo niebezpieczny z punktu widzenia profesjonalizacji zawodów związanych z high-tech. ...
... We argue, therefore, that as UNITES Pro seeks to expand its membership to call centre 'professionals' in the higher-end international-facing captive call centres, it needs to de-emphasise workplace collective bargaining and instead recognise and build on its -arguably greater -similarities with new forms of crossfirm occupational labour organising documented amongst professional-technical service workers in the Global North that also seek to organise mobile workers tied more by their similar social and educational backgrounds, skills, career aspirations and labour market mobility experiences rather than by any commitment to their current employer (see also Cohen et al., 2009). For example, the emerging responses of organisations such as Washtech to challenges of converting new members into full fee-paying members or of convincing young, university educated, white-collar workers of the relevance of collectivisation to their own situation (see van Jaarsveld, 2004), will be important for UNITES Pro to learn from as organisers grapple with similar issues. ...
Article
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This paper explores the lived experiences and aspirational social constructions of call centre work and employment in India’s high profile IT Enabled Services–Business Process Outsourcing (ITES–BPO) industry; the ways in which they differ from those previously documented amongst call centre workers in the Global North (specifically the UK); and the consequences of that geographical reconfiguration of offshored call centre work for the replicability in India of workplace collective bargaining strategies successfully developed in some UK call centres. These issues are analysed using new empirical evidence from a regional survey of 511 non-unionised ITES–BPO workers and 42 in-depth interviews in India’s National Capital Region. Based on this analysis, the paper then discusses the operation, outcomes and ongoing challenges faced by the newly formed ‘Union for ITES Professionals’ (UNITES Pro) in developing an alternative occupational organising model better suited to the particular needs, motivations and preferences of India’s young, mobile, call centre workers. The empirical analysis presented in the paper is located, therefore, within wider debates on the role of geographical context in shaping possibilities for organising white-collar service workers at different ends of global service chains in the new economy.
... Rather, this is a classic body representating workers in collective bargaining with the employer(s). In the short term, without a doubt, the development of trade unions helps in a battle to improve working conditions and get better pay and working hours, as well as improved job security (Jaarsveld, 2004). It should be noted though that, at the same time, this is a very hazardous step as regards the professionalization of high-tech jobs. ...
Article
'Jemielniak's book combines detailed comparative ethnographic observations with organizational analysis to highlight how little we actually know about the operations of knowledge-intensive organizations. Arguing that ancient commonplaces about a "greener", more egalitarian, post-Taylorist future rely on ignoring real-time observations of real people in context, Jemielniak's portrait of the knowledge society of the 21st century shows it to be more like the Fordist society of the 20th century than the utopia so many futurists choose to imagine. His book tells us it is time to begin observing again if we wish to "know" rather than "believe" what the future holds for us.'. - Davydd J. Greenwood, Cornell University, US.
... The perma-temps in Vizcaino sued Microsoft arguing that they were being misclassified as an independent contractors and unfairly denied the benefits, particularly valuable company stock options, that they should have been entitled to as employees. The plaintiffs in the Vizcaino case were ultimately successful in obtaining a $97 million settlement from Microsoft (van Jaarsveld, 2004), however the broader impact of this case has been more to encourage firms to take greater care in the design of their independent contractor arrangements to avoid findings of employment status than to discourage this practice. Indeed, the trend in legal decisions in the U.S. concerning employee versus independent contractor status has been in a direction of facilitating efforts of organizations to avoid employer status. ...
Article
[Excerpt] There is a contradiction at the heart of dispute resolution in the contemporary workplace. The locus of determination of the terms and conditions of employment, including processes for the resolution of disputes concerning these terms and conditions, has become increasingly decentralized to the organizational level, at the same time that long term attachment of employee careers to these same organizations has been diminishing. The result is a disconnect between the nature of current employment disputes, which increasingly involve issues relating to entry to and exit from relationships with organizations, including questions of the formation and content of employment contracts, and dispute resolution procedures that assume membership within an organizational community and acceptance of its rules and norms. In this paper, I examine these two trends in employment dispute resolution and explore the tensions between them. I begin by discussing the increase in organizational ordering of terms and conditions of employment and how it is reflected in the development of organizationally focused dispute resolution mechanisms. Then I turn to examining examples of types of growing employment conflicts that revolve around issues relating to the formation and termination of employment relationships. Following this, I conclude by discussing how dispute resolution procedures and systems might be re-envisioned to better fit a world in which standard long-term employment contracts with a single organization are no longer the paradigmatic model.
... Clearly, software engineers do not meet at least some of these requirements. For example, they very seldom unionize (Milton, 2003;Jaarsveld, 2004) and rarely belong to professional associations. Indeed, interviewees on many occasions showed that they not only did not fulfill the requirements of the model of professionalization, but also that they could not care less about the concepts it emphasized as important. ...
Article
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a qualitative study of software engineers' perception of dress code, career, organizations, and of managers. Design/methodology/approach – The software engineers interviewed work in three European and two US companies. The research is based on ethnographic data, gathered in two longitudinal studies during the period 2001-2006. The methods used in the study include open-ended unstructured interviews, participant observation, collection of stories, and shadowing. Findings – It was found that the majority of software engineers denounce formal dress-codes. The notion of career was defined by them mostly in terms of occupational development. They perceived their own managers as very incompetent. Their view on corporations was also univocally negative. The findings confirm that software engineers form a very distinctive occupation, defining itself in opposition to the organization. However, their distinctiveness may be perceived not only as a manifestation of independence but also contrarily, as simply fulfilling the organizational role they are assigned by management. Originality/value – The study contributes to the organizational literature by responding to the call for more research on high-tech workplace practices, and on non-managerial occupational roles.
... We suspect meeting this goal will ultimately require a system of coverage provided by entities other than just employers. One option is to use organizations based on sector or occupational identity, such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for computer programmers (van Jaarsveld, 2004). That approach would be more attractive if cross-firm organizations were given the same tax advantages for providing benefits that employers currently enjoy. ...
Article
We examined which IT workers take jobs as independent contractors. Contracting offers less job security and less employer-provided training than regular employment. We base our predictions of which workers contract on how their preferences and resources match such jobs. Using career history data, we found that the likelihood of contracting increases with skill levels and presence of negative cues, and falls (for men) with family responsibilities. Contracting is more likely among workers whose careers are either just beginning or well advanced; the latter group also remains in contracting longer. These findings have implications for benefits, skills development, and income security policies.
... iii A focus on regional labor markets has the potential to create a link between the job access and skill acquisition concerns raised in DR and the demand-oriented, firmcentered priorities of IR. A recent body of research examines these complex intersections between economic development and community development approaches to labor market intermediaries and job matching in an environment characterized by significant work reorganization and a "new psychological contract" (Theodore and Peck 2002;Benner 2003;Stone 2004;Van Jaarsveld 2004;Chapple 2006). ...
Article
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Since the 1980s, different conceptions of regionalism have emerged, reflecting distinct perspectives on place and space and a variety of policy orientations. The debates in planning over which regional policies are both “equitable” and “democratic” have been intense. This article clarifies these debates through a critical regionalist approach to the two prominent “regionalisms,” investment and distributive. This article then proposes how to strengthen the connections between investment and distributive regionalism and build on the successful practices in each arena. The authors argue that a progressive regionalism requires focus on (1) the labor market as a whole and (2) multiscalar coalitions and policy initiatives.
... Increasingly public, private and non-profit labour market intermediaries prioritise jobmatching functions over advocacy, direct skill training or other services (primarily access to traditionally employer-provided benefits like health insurance). Unlike the literature on supply chain and research/innovation intermediaries, the empirical research on the regional variation in labour market intermediaries is well developed and includes research on contingent work, new forms of union-led intermediaries, sector-based training consortiums and many others (Carre et al., 1994;Osterman, 1999;Peck and Theodore, 2001;Stone, 2004;Van Jaarsveld, 2004;Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership, 2007). The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership is credited with providing Milwaukee area manufacturers with workers with firm and industry-specific training for skilled work like welding. ...
Article
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This article illustrates the role of regional intermediaries in the return of manufacturing to cities and the centre of policy debates. The article analyses how supply chain, labour market and innovation intermediaries maintain, embed and expand flexibly specialised production capacity and create spatial variation. The article demonstrates how regional intermediaries support small manufacturers and enable firms to develop as a localised, networked group—effectively operating as a cohort not tied by sector or technology but by process. These intermediaries recast manufacturing as a practice of working with rather than working for others, thus reintroducing both agency and collective action to the US manufacturing narrative. The typology presented highlights diversity among intermediaries and underscores their contribution to emerging 21st-century manufacturing models.
... Similarly, Johnson and Jarley (2005), drawing on experience in programmes aimed at young workers, suggest they are more likely to act in solidaristic ways if unions can draw on " network density " increased by associational activity. For several other North American authors, " associational " forms of organization (Heckscher, 1996; Wald, 1998; Benner, 2002; Van Jaarsveld, 2004) resembling professional associations, emphasizing mutual assistance, are particularly appropriate vehicles for Hi-Tech workers. In the WashTech/CWA case analyzed by Van Jaarsveld, WashTech emphasized mutual assistance and political action because of the difficulty in breaking into collective bargaining. ...
Article
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The paper shows how redundancies were resisted by Hi-Tech workers in a large German company. It details an employee network’s emergence to provide support to individuals and to pursue legal cases against the company, and analyzes the network’s norms and operation. The network operated in complementary ways to the union and works council, to achieve a favourable outcome. The case is used to test theoretical propositions derived from literature on Hi-Tech workers, union renewal and mobilization theory and it is suggested that mobilization theory requires further extension in several directions.
... Accordingly, temporary labour is seen as the alternative to external flexibility for permanent workers. On the other hand, extensive research also shows that unions, albeit with varied success, can attempt to influence external flexibility strategies by including temporary workers in collective agreements through campaigning and mobilizing (Carré et al. 1995;Gumbrell-McCormick 2011;van Jaarsveld 2004). ...
Article
This article analyses variation in the use of temporary labour based on a comparison of two plants of the same US automotive MNC, one in Italy and the other in the USA. We argue that differences in the use of temporary labour are explained by union capacities to make trade-offs between alternative forms of flexibility as well as trade-offs in the protection of internal and external groups of workers. Union capacity is dependent on the availability of power resources within different national institutional environments. These resources are shown to influence not only the ways in which temporary workers are used but also bargaining outcomes – including employment conditions – benefiting them.
... Events heated up through the early months of 1998. Frustrated by the conditions mentioned above, as well as by the fact that there was no way to find out what Microsoft was actually paying their temp agency per hour for them, 18 Microsoft workers working on a financial accounting program called TaxSaver declared themselves to be a collective "negotiating unit" in June (van Jaarsveld, 2004). The employees, who included certified public accountants, attorneys, and certified financial managers, sought to negotiate with the four staffing agencies that represented them. ...
Article
: This article challenges the notion—proposed by liberal-democratic theories of the “knowledge worker” and industry accounts of “friction-free” capitalism—that labour conflict is no longer relevant within digital capitalism via an in-depth examination of a case of collective organizing by temporary workers at Microsoft. The paper suggests the formation and activities of their union, WashTech, prefigures 21st century collective organizing. Two concepts are proposed as guides to these struggles. “Immaterial labour” refers to a set of increasingly important forms of labour within post-Fordism, ranging from call-centre work to software development. “Precarity” denotes the material and existential insecurity suffered by workers as a result of flexible employment arrangements. These concepts are examined by drawing on archival material and interviews with WashTech members. Resume: Cet article conteste la notion—proposee par la theorie liberale democratique du « knowledge worker » et du capitalisme « sans friction »—que les luttes ouvrieres manquent de pertinence quant au capitalisme numerique. A partir d l’analyse de WashTech, organisation de travailleurs temporaries a Microsoft, nous proposons que les activites de ce syndicat prefigurent l’organization ouvriere au 21e siecle. Deux concepts peuvent elucider ces lutes. Le « travail immateriel » signale des formes de travail don’t l’importance augmente dans le post-fordisme, consistant de centres d’appels et du developpement de logiciels. La « precarite » designe l’insecurite materielle et existentielle subie par les travailleurs resultat des arrangements d’emploi « flexibles ». Nous considerons ces deux concepts a partir de recherches d’archives et d’entrevues des membres de WashTech.
... The widely used IRS "20 factor" test used to guide worker classification indicates that contractors should determine their own schedules and work locations. Misclassification can be costly, as Microsoft discovered in a class-action lawsuit alleging that large numbers of contractors were treated too much like employees (van Jaarsveld 2004). In theory, staff in large organizations could try to enforce distinctions through oversight of front line supervisors; in practice though, Bidwell (2009) found supervisors to be essentially unresponsive to centralized administrative influences in their decisions about how to treat contractors. ...
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Using job-spell data based on an original survey of Information Technology (IT) degree graduates from five U.S. universities, the authors investigate the link between contracting and a set of job characteristics (accommodating flexible work hours, total work hours, and working from home) associated with work-life needs. Compared with regular employees in similar jobs, workers in both independent- and agency-contracting jobs report more often working at home and working fewer hours per week. Further, agency contracting (but not independent contracting) is associated with lower odds of being able to set one’s own work hours. Important differences also emerge in workplaces of varying sizes. For each job characteristic, as workplace size increases, independent contracting jobs deteriorate relative to regular employment jobs. As a consequence, in large workplaces, independent contracting jobs appear to be less accommodating of work-life needs than regular employment jobs.
... There is a small but growing literature on employment instability and union efforts in hightech industries (Andresky Fraser 2001;Wilson and Blain 2001;O'Riain 2002;Head 2003;Christopherson 2004;Rodino-Colocino 2006;van Jaarsveld 2004). It is clear that "a traditional union-organizing campaign is often not viable because of the realities of their [high tech workers'] workplace, their contingent employment status, or current labor law" (Wilson and Blain 2001, p. 32). ...
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This introduction to “Constructing Workers” places the contributions to the special issue in the context of a review of central themes in a broader literature on the definition of workers, their public identities, and their rights. This literature has developed over the past 30 years in sociology and, especially, in social and labor history. At the same time, a more recent literature has emerged, most clearly in the USA, but also in other national settings, on the changing role of labor unions and other types of labor organization in an increasingly global economy. The two sets of scholarship are growing closer together and addressing importantly related themes, relevant both to more incisive sociological and historical understanding of the modes of labor organizing and regulation and to contemporary efforts to combat neoliberal restructuring of labor and class relations.
... There is a small but growing literature on employment instability and union efforts in high-tech industries (Andresky Fraser, 2001;Wilson and Blain, 2001;O'Riain, 2002;Head, 2003;Christopherson, 2004;Rodino-Colocino, 2004;van Jaarsveld, 2004). It is clear that "a traditional union-organizing campaign is often not viable because of the realities of their [high tech workers'] workplace, their contingent employment status, or current labor law" (Wilson and Blain, 2001, p. 32). ...
Article
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How should we define “organizability?” I identify here four factors that contribute to a group’s organizability: organizers’ expectations, labor market structures, employers’ actions, and workers’ union sentiments. I briefly discuss how the first three factors correspond with workers’ union sentiments in comparing two divergent occupations: teaching assistants (TAs) and web designers. Workers must choose between conflicting identities in constructing themselves as “organizable” workers. While TAs ultimately framed their identities primarily as employees, web designers still consider themselves unorganizable. I explore similarities and differences between these cases and propose some steps union organizers and web designers could take in unionizing.
... Accordingly, temporary labour is seen as the alternative to external flexibility for permanent workers. On the other hand, extensive research also shows that unions, albeit with varied success, can attempt to influence external flexibility strategies by including temporary workers in collective agreements through campaigning and mobilizing (Carré et al. 1995;Gumbrell-McCormick 2011;van Jaarsveld 2004). ...
Article
This article analyses variation in the use of temporary labour based on a comparison of two plants of the same US automotive MNC, one in Italy and the other in the USA. We argue that differences in the use of temporary labour are explained by union capacities to make trade-offs between alternative forms of flexibility as well as trade-offs in the protection of internal and external groups of workers. Union capacity is dependent on the availability of power resources within different national institutional environments. These resources are shown to influence not only the ways in which temporary workers are used but also bargaining outcomes – including employment conditions – benefiting them.
... These rights were further developed and revised into a three-phase system in collective agreements. These legislative measures sought to minimize employer abuse of these types of employment arrangements, a reality that came to light in some US companies where workers were trapped in long-term temporary positions without access to benefits (van Jaarsveld, 2004). ...
Article
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This article uses qualitative and quantitative evidence from call centres to show how the Dutch industrial relations system balances employer needs for workforce flexibility with the interests of employees. The normalization of temporary agency work in the Netherlands helps employers build workforce flexibility, reducing pressures on firms to subcontract work and to escape the existing regulatory system. In addition, the inclusiveness of the Dutch collective bargaining system, with the majority of call centre workers covered by a collective agreement, reduces differences in working conditions. Nonetheless, variations in negotiated agreements covering in-house workers, subcontractors and temporary agency workers lead to tiers of segmentation among these secondary labour market jobs.
... Accordingly, temporary labour is seen as the alternative to external flexibility for permanent workers. On the other hand, extensive research also shows that unions, albeit with varied success, can attempt to influence external flexibility strategies by including temporary workers in collective agreements through campaigning and mobilizing (Carré et al. 1995;Gumbrell-McCormick 2011;van Jaarsveld 2004). ...
Article
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Transformations of European labour markets and welfare systems have deepened the problem of precarious work. This has led trade unions to develop strategies to represent and organise precarious workers. By focusing on Italy and Spain, two of the countries with the highest incidence of precarious jobs in Europe, the paper addresses the specificity and variety of union responses towards precarious work. It refers these responses to the different institutional contexts, including employment and social welfare regulatory settings, and the power resources union can draw upon.
... Arguably the leading example of the former is WashTech, an offshoot of the CWA in the Seattle high tech industry which was formed by disgruntled Microsoft permatemps who won a court case against the company by claiming that drawing workers from employment agencies allowed the company to avoid standard benefit payments. (van Jaarsveld, 2004). One of the greatest difficulties that organizers face in the high tech industry is that many of them do not formally work for the high tech company itself but for firms like Manpower which provide high tech firms with workers. ...
Article
The outsourcing of jobs, particularly the growing practice of sending the jobs of US knowledge and communication sector workers to other countries, has become a significant issue in academic, policy and media circles. This paper draws from a research project that examines labour, its unions and social movements in the knowledge and media sectors to describe what we know about outsourcing and assess its significance for media scholars. The paper begins by defining the knowledge worker category and by assessing debates about its significance which date from the 1950s. It next considers major views about the problems which centre on the fear of massive job loss to low-wage nations, especially India and China, and addresses solutions offered by organized labour which call for stopping outsourcing wherever possible, and by business which maintains that outsourcing can only be curtailed when business and labour grow smarter. Each of these views conveys an essential truth but each deals only with symptoms of a significant transformation in the international division of labour. Understanding this transforma-tion, and the role of information and communication technologies, leads us to consider key dimensions in the complexity of outsourcing, Specifically, developed nations like Canada, especially in film and video, and Ireland, in new media and IT, have benefited as recipients of outsourced jobs. Less developed nations like India are not just recipients of outsourced jobs, they are beginning to lead the process. In spite of 'end of geography' promises, place matters and culture counts. Finally, resistance takes a multiplicity of forms, including new forms of old unions and new types of worker movements in the knowledge and media sectors. The paper concludes that we need to go beyond the generally accepted views that outsourcing is about sending jobs to low wage countries and that it can be stopped, or at least limited, either by regulation or by developing new and smarter business practices. It signals a fundamental transformation in the international division of labour that is accelerating especially in the knowledge and media sectors.
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The Labor Blind SpotOrganizational Communication and LaborThe Laboring of CultureLabor Enters the Political Economy of CommunicationThe History of Communication from a Political Economy PerspectiveLabor Union ConvergenceSocial Movement Worker OrganizationsToward a Global Labor Movement: Will Communication Workers of the World Unite?References
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Three case studies of worker organizations that are affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and that do not hold collective bargaining rights are compared as a way to discuss the concept of “open-source unionism (OSU),” as expounded by Richard B. Freeman and Joel Rogers. The article evaluates three CWA affiliates to determine if they utilize the attributes of OSU. We argue that the efforts are examples of nascent unions that might better be described as “open unionism.” The three projects are open to various levels of attachment for workers but engage in collective activities to represent workers and mobilize workers and engage in public campaigns to win specific gains from employers.
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The Freelance Editorial Association, founded in the 1980s, was an organization of editorial professionals working on contract. Through its 15years of operation, the organization developed a model of collective representation and sought to improve employment practices and work relations for these contingent workers. Expanding through occupational networks, the association established a program of services and a set of principles for advocacy, which it applied on behalf of members seeking resolution of disputes with clients. The organization, however, proved unsustainable. Resource constraints, labor market structures, and the underlying dynamics of occupational networks, which operated in the interests of clients as well as freelancers, undermined its model. Although the association addressed many individual needs, it generated little leverage toward promoting collective interests. Its efforts, however, offer caveats for the development of new models of collective representation.
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This paper explores the increasingly important role a new corporate social responsibility movement is playing in international development. Using a critical policy approach, the overarching question posed is: what ideological work does Microsoft Corporation's world-wide philanthropic programs, and specifically its Unlimited Potential (UP) program, perform within the context of contemporary class struggles over the new means and relations of production? At the heart of this question is the ongoing battle between the free and open source software movement or FOSS and the proprietary software lobby as represented by Microsoft.
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Winner of the Regional Studies Association 2009 Best Book AwardPublished Reviews "Given the power and timeliness of these arguments, this volume deserves a multi-disciplinary and multi-level academic, as well as an extensive policy-making, readership." -- Professor Neil Coe, University of Manchester, UK (reviewed in the Journal of Economic Geography)"Christopherson and Clark's book is a wake-up call. It does not provide all the answers, and neither should it. It is a call for new thinking - well crafted and provocative and well supported by empirical research. It has the potential to be a turning point in new regionalist thinking and urgently needed policy development." -- Professor Michael Taylor, University of Birmingham, UK (reviewed in Regional Studies)"Christopherson and Clark credit several planners and geographers for introducing the principles of distributive regionalism, but in this book, they provide a new conceptual basis for it-their answers to the questions of actors, agency, and power." -- Professor James Harrington, Department of Geography, University of Washington, USA (reviewed in Economic Geography)"…the empirical detail and breadth of discussion is nuanced, convincing, and worth reading. The underlying message is that SMEs compete with their larger counter parts in terms of access to critical factor markets and inputs." -- Professor Alan MacPherson, Department of Geography, University at Buffalo - The State University of New York, USA (published in Growth and Change)"These empirical studies are based on a rich and wide literature on the global economy and the region: which makes it easy to agree that the book is both interesting and insightful for a range of students and researchers of the social science disciplines. ...Certainly, it is of value for buying and reading!" -- Katariina Ala-Rämi, Department of Geography, University of Oulu. (published in Economic Geography Research Group Book Reviews)AbstractSince the early 1980s, the region has been central to thinking about the emerging character of the global economy. In fields as diverse as business management, industrial relations, economic geography, sociology, and planning, the regional scale has emerged as an organizing concept for interpretations of economic change.This book is both a critique of the "new regionalism" and a return to the "regional question," including all of its concerns with equity and uneven development. It will challenge researchers and students to consider the region as a central scale of action in the global economy, and at the core of the book are case studies of two industries that rely on skilled, innovative, and flexible workers - the optics and imaging industry and the film and television industry. Combined with this is a discussion of the regions that constitute their production centers. The authors’ intensive research on photonics and entertainment media firms, both large and small, leads them to question some basic assumptions behind the new regionalism and to develop an alternative framework for understanding regional economic development policy. Finally, there is a re-examination of what the regional question means for the concept of the learning region.This book draws on the rich contemporary literature on the region but also addresses theoretical questions that preceded "the new regionalism." It will contribute to teaching and research in a range of social science disciplines and this new paperback edition will also make the book more accessible to students and researchers in those disciplines, those individuals who will influence the re-structuring economies of the 21st century.
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Purpose – The paper aims to expand the public service principle to cover labour and worker organizations in the communication industry. It also aims to demonstrate the value of labour convergence as an instrument to advance the interests of knowledge workers and the public interest in communication. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws from conceptual debates around the nature of knowledge labour and of convergence. It draws from interviews and documentary evidence to determine the value of trade union convergence and new forms of worker organization in the communication industries. Findings – The paper finds that communication workers are engaging in their own form of convergence and are using it to advance the public service principle in knowledge labour. In doing so, they are expanding the public interest in communication. Originality/value – The paper is one of the only studies that connects the public service principle and convergence to knowledge and communication workers. It demonstrates that, despite significant challenges, these workers are a significant force in the communication arena.
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Lazonick explains the origins of the new era of employment insecurity and income inequality, and considers what governments, businesses, and individuals can do about it. He also asks whether the United States can refashion its high-tech business model to generate stable and equitable economic growth and explores the institutional and organizational conditions under which an advance economy - not only the U.S. economy - can achieve sustainable prosperity.
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This article explains variation in the extent to which high skill, high wage workers are able to defend their job security in services-based production regimes. It compares two cases of downsizing at German multinational technology firms in the early 2000s, and shows how workers can protect their jobs against employer threats by building power in the workplace. I find that tech workers mobilize against downsizing when they creatively redeploy management’s discourse to demonstrate the potential effectiveness of collective action in a discourse that resonates with their occupational identity as technical experts. Highlighting the significance of discursive strategies to worker power in the information technology sector advances research on the comparative political economy of liberalization, which tends to view weak labor as a structural characteristic of the knowledge economy. While the transition from manufacturing- to services-led growth has weakened labor, with union density declining and national institutions becoming less effective, successful resistance to downsizing demonstrates that these historical developments relocate and recast workers’ power resources, rather than destroy them outright. This article focuses on political struggle in the workplace to offer empirical evidence that workers can develop considerable power even when they lack access to labor’s traditional resources.
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Employee needs in the work place are constantly evolving. Once traditional demands are being replaced with less tangible requests for autonomy, flexible work, respect from management and a greater voice in the organisation. This paper articulates the five actions model of human resource management to help management bring employee behaviours in line with the goals of the organisation and ensure that employees feel valued and involved in the organisation's operation. In the presence of unions, the five actions model will provide management with a tool to work successfully with the union. Research has shown that honesty, trust and employee cooperation are vital to a productive employee-management relationship. The five actions of communication, building trust, encouraging employee involvement, maximising positive and compromising on negative effects of unionisation will be discussed and the relationships between those five actions explored. Finally, a number of propositions for further research will be presented.
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Call centers have come, in the last three decades, to define the interaction between corporations, governments, and other institutions and their respective customers, citizens, and members. The offshoring and outsourcing of call center employment, part of the larger information technology and information-technology-enabled services sectors, continues to be a growing practice amongst governments and corporations in their attempts at controlling costs and providing new services. While incredible advances in technology have permitted the use of distant and "offshore" labor forces, the grander reshaping of an international political economy of communications has allowed for the acceleration of these processes. New and established labor unions have responded to these changes in the global regimes of work by seeking to organize call center workers. These efforts have been assisted by a range of forces, not least of which is the condition of work itself, but also attempts by global union federations to build a bridge between international unionism and local organizing campaigns in the Global South and Global North. Through an examination of trade union interventions in the call center industries located in Canada and India, this book contributes to research on post-industrial employment by using political economy as a juncture between development studies, the sociology of work, and labor studies.
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This paper contributes to the union renewal literature by examining the union voting propensity of workers in the high-tech tertiary sector of videogame development toward different forms of unionization. We used exclusive data from a survey of videogame developers (VGD) working primarily in Anglo-Saxon countries. When looking at the factors related to voting propensity, our data indicated that the type of unionism matters and that industry/sectoral unionism is an increasingly salient model for project-based knowledge workers. This is an important policy dimension given that the legal structures and norms in Anglo-Saxon countries still tend to support decentralized enterprise-based unionism. It is also important for unions insofar as their organizing tactics remain geared toward a shop-by-shop approach or, at least, a localized geographical approach. Although additional work is required, our analyses lends support to the argument that high-commitment and high-involvement workplaces can engender a desire for collective representation and voice such as is offered through unionization. Whether this is because such workplaces step over a breaking-point line where the requirement for full alignment with employer goals becomes untenable and a source of discontent, whether this represents the existence of dual commitment where a representative agent like a union is seen as necessary to protect the work that people love, or whether there is a combination of these forces is not yet clear, but it is a critical area of future study for project-based knowledge workers.
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This study will examine whether Russian labor is truly “quiescent” by examining general activity in Moscow from 2000 to 2014 and then focusing on white-collar union activity. The results indicate that over this period, the unions representing healthcare workers, teachers, and academics were very active and often achieved concessions from the government such as higher wages or changes to proposed reforms. These findings are important in the context of other post-communist states (Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic) as they indicate that institutional differences like method of unionization and unions’ political involvement led to different results for white-collar unions in these countries. Finally, this study makes clear that while institutional differences and the legacy of communism can lead to different outcomes, white-collar unions in Moscow have effectively used various forms of political pressure to press for concessions and policy changes.
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This paper responds to the theme of the 2009 CAIS conference, "Borders, Bridges, and Byways," in four ways. First, it takes up issues on the border of labour and language by examining the importance of viewing information as mutually constituted out of these two components. Second, it addresses the boundary between workers and users by explaining the need to incorporate workers more directly into information studies research. Third, it aims to integrate information labour with communication and cultural work. Finally, it points to the importance of bridging the divide that separates informational labour in rich countries from labour in poorer regions of the world. In doing so, the paper intends to shed light on why information studies scholars and practitioners need to spend more time on the study of labour.
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The paper shows how redundancies were resisted by Hi-Tech workers in a large German company. It details an employee network's emergence to provide support to individuals and to pursue legal cases against the company, and analyzes the network's norms and operation. The network operated in complementary ways to the union and works council, to achieve a favourable outcome. The case is used to test theoretical propositions derived from literature on Hi-Tech workers, union renewal and mobilization theory and it is suggested that mobilization theory requires further extension in several directions.
Chapter
Although the debate on the digital divide has evolved from an analysis of access to skill, scholars have largely neglected the significance of inequalities in the high-tech labor force. Overlooking such discrepancies undercuts the practical application of such analyses; if the most technically skilled workers face eroding job security and dwindling wages, digital divide research is missing a key source of disparity among today's workers. This chapter examines the latest developments in digital divide research and the high-tech labor market. The concluding section of this chapter discusses what steps workers are taking to close the digital labor force divide and how scholars and managers can meaningfully intervene. By leveraging their unique position as workers who manage other workers, managers can play an important role in creating more equitable working conditions for high-tech labor.
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Outsourcing of jobs, particularly the growing practice of sending the jobs of U.S. knowledge and communication sector workers to other countries, has become a significant issue in academic, policy and media circles. The paper begins by defining knowledge workers and summarising debates about their significance dating from the 1950s. Next it considers prevailing views about the problem which centre on the fear of massive job loss to low-wage nations like India and China and prevailing solutions offered by labour-stop outsourcing wherever possible, and by business-outsourcing can only be curtailed when business and labour grow smarter. Each of these views conveys an essential truth but each deals only with symptoms of a significant transformation in the international division of labour. Understanding this transformation, and the role of information and communication technologies, leads us to consider key dimensions in the complexity of outsourcing: developed nations like Canada and Ireland have benefited as recipients of outsourced jobs; less developed nations like India are not just recipients of outsourced jobs, they are beginning to lead the process; in spite of "end of geography" promises, place matters and culture counts; and, finally, resistance takes a multiplicity of forms.
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Relying on interviews with contingent workers in diverse jobs, this article explores the motivations underlying worker consent, in particular, workers' commitment to employers who did little to encourage it. Driven by the need to address the "spoiled identity" problem brought on by contin- gent employment, workers engaged in identity-management strategies that included the following: defining a willingness to work hard rather than the job per se as determinative of personal value, asserting an alternative voca- tion as one's appropriate identity-conferring occupation, and aligning with managers as a reference group. These strategies had the ideological effect of reaffirming a managerial ideology that hampered the ability to formulate a critique of existing employment relations. A much smaller group, made up of disillusioned day laborers with few illusions about middle-class respect- ability, rejected identity-management strategies and regarded their relation- ship with employers in the purely instrumental terms that the business press assumes would apply to all workers. The article concludes that cul- tural lag and the raw appeal of the notion of a caring employer may under- lie the persistence of the accommodationist orientations displayed by most of these workers.
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Working Regions focuses on policy aimed at building sustainable and resilient regional economies in the wake of the global recession. Using examples of four ‘working regions’ — regions where research and design functions and manufacturing still coexist in the same cities — the book argues for a new approach to regional economic development. It does this by highlighting policies that foster innovation and manufacturing in small firms, focus research centers on pushing innovation down the supply chain, and support dynamic, design-driven firm networks. This book traces several key themes underlying the core proposition that for a region to work, it has to link research and manufacturing activities — namely, innovation and production — in the same place. Among the topics discussed in this volume are the issues of how the location of research and development infrastructure produces a clear role of the state in innovation and production systems, and how policy emphasis on pre-production processes in the 1990s has obscured the financialization of intellectual property. Throughout the book, the author draws on examples from diverse industries, including the medical devices industry and the US photonics industry, in order to illustrate the different themes of working regions and the various institutional models operating in various countries and regions. 1. Working Regions: Regeneration by design 2. The Spatial Distribution of Advanced Manufacturing 3. The Rise of the Research Center: The nexus between national innovation policies and regional development 4. The Trade in Innovation: The evolution of intellectual property markets 5. Hidden in Plain Sight: The North American optics and photonics industry 6. Working Regions in Practice: Apparel and outdoor equipment and medical devices industries 7. Flexible Specialization 2.0: The design + build approach to working regions
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Albeit the labour market reforms of the Italian centre-right Government in office have come in for an impressive amount of destructive criticisms, the A. assumes that two kinds of defects are still waiting to be better investigated. The first one deals with problem solving inefficiencies, due to the imperfect coordination of labour, employment and social policies, which has caused the Government to trigger off paradoxical inequality effects as a result of labour inclusive policies aimed at occupationally disadvantaged people. A further, least investigated sort of defects, finally, is referred to as a real pathology of the rule making process, and described as «impotence of the Reformer». Read through the lens of this «pathology», the labour market reforms passed in the last four years turn out to be neither a «neo-liberal manifesto», nor a case of «foxy shrewdness», but rather an «unintentional and impotent reformism».
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This thesis focuses on three key areas of research interest: the way in which agency workers are managed, the impact of heterogeneity in agency work (particularly in relation to job security and the opportunity to act in response to problems at work) and the opportunity for representative voice. It offers insight in these areas that have, to date, been under-explored. The research examines two case studies, focusing on agency workers within the social care workforce. This primarily qualitative study has engaged with agency workers, managers and local and national union representatives using interviews as the main method of data collection. This study concludes that the management of agency workers is fragmented and that control is divided between agencies and user organisations. It contributes to a growing literature around agency workers, advancing the view that agency workers are diverse and heterogeneous. Variations between agency workers affect their perceptions of different types of job security, and have a significant influence on their opportunity to act in response to problems at work. This thesis reviews the legal position of agency workers and concludes that equal treatment legislation is likely to increase the ability of some agency workers to mobilise, but that the absence of protection from arbitrary dismissal is likely to limit the ability of many agency workers to act in response to problems at work. It reviews the engagement between agency workers and trade unions, finding workplace indifference and rejection coupled with political lobbying for greater legal protection, and that should such protection be enacted it is likely to provide a stimulus for unionisation.
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In this article, Professor Stone describes the profound changes that are occurring in the employment relationship in the United States. Firms are dismantling their internal labor markets and abandoning their implicit promises of orderly promotion and long-term job security. No longer is employment centered on a single, primary employer. Instead, employees operate in a boundaryless workplace in which they expect to move frequently between firms, and between divisions within firms, throughout their working lives. At the same time, employers and employees have a new understanding of their mutual obligations, a new psychological contract, in which expectations of job security and promotional opportunities have been replaced by expectations of employability, training, human capital development, and networking opportunities. The changes in the nature of the employment relationship have many implications for labor and employment regulation. The U.S. system of labor and employment law that originated in the New Deal period is built upon the assumption of long-term attachment between employer and employee. The collective bargaining laws as well as the social welfare measures that provide old age assistance, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and disability insurance are employer-centered and depend upon an on-going employment relationship. These legal structures are not well-suited to the boundaryless workplace. Professor Stone discusses the implications of the new workplace for three issues that are problematic in the new workplace: ownership of human capital, employment discrimination, and employee representation. In each area, she makes suggestions to address problems of insecurity, unfairness and injustice that frequently arise. These proposals are part of an effort to begin to imagine, and create, a new labor and employment law, one that can foster equity and justice in the new workplace.
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This report, based on a study of a group of highly accomplished professionals in New York City, is one of the first to take up labor market issues in the new media industry. It describes the challenges faced by professionals and employers alike in this important and dynamic sector, and identifies strategies for success in a project oriented environment with highly complex skill demands and rapidly changing technology. Our findings suggest three central issues.
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Thesis (M.S.)--Cornell University, Aug., 2000. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 316-336).
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Explanations for the difficulty faced by unions in their attempts to organize workers in high-tech firms in the Sunbelt are examined. We located our discussion within the theoretical debate regarding the decline of unions in the United States. Our focus is on 125 workers in two high-tech firms in a large Texas city. Based on survey data, personal interviews, and field observations, we describe the work and nonwork experiences of employees as they relate to the unionization process. We argue for a multicausal explanation for the lack of unionization. An authoritarian work environment, disorganized work lives, and an antiunion political climate combine to make unionization an unlikely alternative for these workers, despite the fact that they are not inherently antiunion in their attitudes.
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This article examines the origins and development of living-wage ordinances that have been passed in more than eighty cities and counties, and the nature of the local campaigns promoting their passage. Ordinance characteristics and a number of specific campaigns are described, and factors contributing to the success of local efforts are considered. Coalitions including labor movement, community, and religious organizations have been central to these efforts, and the potential political and organizing impact of this collaboration is discussed.
Article
For many workers, particularly contingent workers or those in largely unorganized industries, a traditional union-organizing campaign is often not viable because of the realities of their workplace, their contingent employment status, or current labor law. When contracts are not attainable in the near term but workers still want to organize, we have to be creative in finding new ways to build permanent workplace organizations.
The Growing Contingent Workforce: A Challenge for the Future
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Hiatt, Jonathan P., and Lynn Rhinehart. 1994. "The Growing Contingent Workforce: A Challenge for the Future." Labor Lawyer 10(Spring):143 -59.
Contingent Workers in a Changing Economy: Endure, Adapt, or Organize?
  • Jennifer Middleton
Middleton, Jennifer. 1996. "Contingent Workers in a Changing Economy: Endure, Adapt, or Organize?" New York Review of Legal and Social Change 22:557-620.
Should We Fret When Microsoft Takes A Hit? The Seattle Times Microsoft Ordered to Show Contractors Their Personnel Files
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Ostrom, Carol M. 2000. " Should We Fret When Microsoft Takes A Hit? " The Seattle Times, April 9. ——. 2000a. " Microsoft Ordered to Show Contractors Their Personnel Files. " Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 26. ——. 2000b. " Microsoft May End Up Hurt By Own Temp Rule. " Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 30.
Nice Work If You Can Get It
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Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. 1995. "Nice Work If You Can Get It." American Prospect 6(23):52; available at http://www.prospect.org/print/V6/23/kanter-r.html; accessed on November 11, 2001.
Microsoft Changes Temp Benefits
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Ervin, Keith. 1999. " Microsoft Changes Temp Benefits. " The Seattle Times, April 3.
Bill of Rights for Temps Offered
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Kelly, Christina, E. 2001. "Bill of Rights for Temps Offered." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 19.
The Campaign to Organize Amazon.com
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Wilson, Gretchen, and Mike Blain. 2001. " The Campaign to Organize Amazon.com. " WorkingUSA
Disparities Within the Digital World: Realities of the New Economy Report prepared by the Worker Center
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WashTech/CWA. 2001. " Disparities Within the Digital World: Realities of the New Economy. " Report prepared by the Worker Center, King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
Microsoft Kept Files on Temporary Workers
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Greene, Jay. 1999. "Microsoft Kept Files on Temporary Workers." The Seattle Times, October 27.
Amazon.com and the Return of the Old Economy The New Republic, Febru-ary 19 The Future of Unions as Political Organizations
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Cohn, Jonathan. 2001. " Amazon.com and the Return of the Old Economy. " The New Republic, Febru-ary 19; available at http://www.tnr.com/021901/cohn021901.html; accessed on June 20, 2001. Delaney, John T. 1991. " The Future of Unions as Political Organizations. " Journal of Labor Research 12(Fall):373 – 87.
Mutual Aid and Union Renewal: Cycles of Logics of Action Net Work-ing: Work Patterns and Workforce Policies for the New Media Industry. Washington: Economic Policy Institute Indian IT's New Union Mould
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Bacharach, Samuel B., Peter A. Bamberger, and William J. Sonnenstuhl. 2001. Mutual Aid and Union Renewal: Cycles of Logics of Action. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press. Batt, Rosemary, Susan Christopherson, Ned Rightor, and Danielle D. van Jaarsveld. 2001. Net Work-ing: Work Patterns and Workforce Policies for the New Media Industry. Washington: Economic Policy Institute. Bibby, Andrew. 2002. " Indian IT's New Union Mould. " The Financial Times, February 26.
Union and the New Economy: Motion Picture and Television Unions Offer a Model for New Media Professionals
  • John Amman
Amman, John. 2002. "Union and the New Economy: Motion Picture and Television Unions Offer a Model for New Media Professionals." WorkingUSA 6(Fall):111-31.
Permanently Temporary and Not Pleased at the Prospect The Tacoma News Tribune
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Flash, Cynthia. 1999. " Permanently Temporary and Not Pleased at the Prospect. " The Tacoma News Tribune, February 21.
Microsoft's chief financial officer at the time, presents his keynote address to the 1999 Institute of Management Accountants 80th Annual Conference
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June 1999—Greg Maffei, Microsoft's chief financial officer at the time, presents his keynote address to the 1999 Institute of Management Accountants 80th Annual Conference.
's leadership signs an affiliation agreement with the CWA and receives a charter as WashTech
August 1998—WashTech's leadership signs an affiliation agreement with the CWA and receives a charter as WashTech/CWA Local 37083 (TNG-CWA).
Indian IT's New Union Mould
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Bibby, Andrew. 2002. "Indian IT's New Union Mould." The Financial Times, February 26.
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Miriam Harline (Microsoft independent contractor), July 12, 1999, Seattle
former Microsoft agency contractor Seattle Marcus Courtney (WashTech/CWA organizer), former Microsoft agency contractor
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April 2001—The WashTech/CWA opens a training center in partnership with the CWA and Cisco. Interview List Mike Blain ( WashTech /CWA organizer), former Microsoft agency contractor, July 13, 1999, Seattle Marcus Courtney (WashTech/CWA organizer), former Microsoft agency contractor, July 13, 1999, Seattle; October 30, 1999—telephone interview; August 2000, Seattle; April 2001, Ithaca; November 2001, Ithaca Andrea de Majewski (WashTech/CWA organizer), July 13, 1999, Seattle; September 1999, telephone interview Gretchen Wilson (WashTech/CWA organizer), July 13, 1999, Seattle; August 2000, Seattle; November 2001, Ithaca Barbara Judd (Microsoft agency contractor), July 14, 1999, Seattle; August 2000, Seattle Jeff Nachtigal (Microsoft agency contractor), July 13, 1999, Seattle Paul Henry (Microsoft agency contractor), July 12, 1999, Seattle
Seattle Maria Rolling (Microsoft agency contractor)
  • Jamie Myxter
Jamie Myxter (Microsoft agency contractor), July 12, 1999, Seattle Maria Rolling (Microsoft agency contractor), July 14, 1999, Seattle Jim Galasyn (former Microsoft agency contractor), July 14, 1999, Seattle Larry Cohen (CWA director of organizing), September 1999-telephone interview Collective Representation Among High-Tech Workers / 385
An Employee By Another Name Is Still An Employee
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Stobaugh, David. 1999. "An Employee By Another Name Is Still An Employee." Testimony on September 8, 1999, before the U.S. Department of Labor.
Amazon.com and the Return of the Old Economy
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Cohn, Jonathan. 2001. "Amazon.com and the Return of the Old Economy." The New Republic, February 19; available at http://www.tnr.com/021901/cohn021901.html; accessed on June 20, 2001.
Microsoft Changes Temp Benefits The Seattle Times, April 3. Flash, Cynthia Permanently Temporary and Not Pleased at the Prospect The Tacoma News Tribune
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Ervin, Keith. 1999. " Microsoft Changes Temp Benefits. " The Seattle Times, April 3. Flash, Cynthia. 1999. " Permanently Temporary and Not Pleased at the Prospect. " The Tacoma News Tribune, February 21.
Should We Fret When Microsoft Takes A Hit
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Ostrom, Carol M. 2000. " Should We Fret When Microsoft Takes A Hit? " The Seattle Times, April 9.
CWA discloses agency bill rates. 384 / D D.  J October 1999—The Seattle Times publishes an article based on information provided by the WashTech/CWA confirming that Microsoft had maintained a set of secret personnel files documenting the performance of agency contractors since
  • Washtech
September 1999—The WashTech/CWA discloses agency bill rates. 384 / D D.  J October 1999—The Seattle Times publishes an article based on information provided by the WashTech/CWA confirming that Microsoft had maintained a set of secret personnel files documenting the performance of agency contractors since 1995 in violation of Washington State law.
Microsoft Ordered to Show Contractors Their Personnel Files
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Ostrom, Carol M. 2000. "Should We Fret When Microsoft Takes A Hit?" The Seattle Times, April 9. --. 2000a. "Microsoft Ordered to Show Contractors Their Personnel Files." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 26. --. 2000b. "Microsoft May End Up Hurt By Own Temp Rule." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 30.
Permanently Temporary and Not Pleased at the Prospect
  • Keith Ervin
Ervin, Keith. 1999. "Microsoft Changes Temp Benefits." The Seattle Times, April 3. Flash, Cynthia. 1999. "Permanently Temporary and Not Pleased at the Prospect." The Tacoma News Tribune, February 21.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
U.S. Department of Labor. 2000. Occupational Outlook Handbook 2000. Washington: Bureau of Labor Statistics; available at http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos042.htm; accessed on April 18, 2001.
Nascent Organizing Initiatives Among High-Skilled Contingent Workers: The Microsoft-WashTech /CWA Case
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Honorable Robert G. Torricelli (GAO/ HEHS-00-76), U.S. Senate, U.S. General Accounting Office. van Jaarsveld, Danielle. 2000. "Nascent Organizing Initiatives Among High-Skilled Contingent Workers: The Microsoft-WashTech /CWA Case." M.S. thesis, Cornell University.
WashTech's leadership signs an affiliation agreement with the CWA and receives a charter as WashTech
June 1998-Microsoft introduces a 31-day break-in-service policy. August 1998-WashTech's leadership signs an affiliation agreement with the CWA and receives a charter as WashTech/CWA Local 37083 (TNG-CWA).
former Microsoft agency contractor
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Marcus Courtney (WashTech/CWA organizer), former Microsoft agency contractor, July 13, 1999, Seattle; October 30, 1999-telephone interview;
Seattle Microsoft manager
  • Microsoft Manager
Microsoft manager, July 16, 1999, Seattle Microsoft manager, November 1999, Ithaca Microsoft manager, November 1999, Ithaca
Seattle Manager of a temporary employment agency
  • Jonathan Rosenblum
Jonathan Rosenblum (AFL-CIO representative), July 13, 1999, Seattle Manager of a temporary employment agency, July 15, 1999, Seattle Manager of a temporary employment agency, July 15, 1999, Seattle Manager of a temporary employment agency, July 15, 1999, Seattle
  • George Gonos
George Gonos (assistant professor of economics, SUNY, Potsdam, NY), November 1999, Washington
Microsoft May End Up Hurt By Own Temp Rule
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Permanently Temporary and Not Pleased at the Prospect
  • Cynthia Flash