White collar unions : the failure and future of the American labor movement
O'Connell, Jesse Davis.
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Participation in labor unions has fallen to an all-time low among American workers. This decline has occurred over the same period of time that the American economy has shifted from industrial work characterized by blue collar labor to an economy of white collar workers primarily focused on providing services. Generally defined as salaried professionals, or educated workers performing semi-professional non-manual tasks, white collar workers have by and large not become members of labor unions. The lack of white collar unionization has contributed much to the declining role of labor unions in this country. Why have white collar workers resisted attempts at collective action? This thesis will explore the failures of white collar unionism efforts, and what that means for the future of the American labor movement.; This examination of the involvement of white collar workers in the American labor movement will begin with a survey of some of the critical events in the history of organized labor in America and how they impacted white collar workers. It will progress to an assessment of exceptionalism in American labor relations; what makes this country's development of industrial relations unique from other nations. This will be achieved through a discussion of the industrial norms that underpin and influence employer and employee behavior and the mobilization biases that arise from these norms. The specific case of white collar workers will then be examined, as it is the assertion of this thesis that their lack of participation in unions is playing a role in the decline of the labor movement in this country. This examination will look both at the specific nature of white collar work and how it relates to workers organizing, and also how white collar workers perceive unions. The influence of various forms of movement politics will also be looked at, particularly as they relate to white collar workers. Additionally, there will be an assessment of how structural changes in the American economy over the past several decades have impacted the unionization rates of white collar workers. Finally, all topics discussed will be applied to a critical thinking model that will result in an assessment of the immediate future of the American labor movement.
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