Has Collective Bargaining Degenerated?

by J. Foegen



Collective bargaining has done a good job in the years since it became generally formalized under the provisions of the Wagner Act in 1935. It has given yeoman service as a means of reconciling the often-opposed objectives of labor and management, while at the same time it has retained the essence of a free-enterprise system. Recently, however, signs of possible degeneration have begun to appear in the bargaining process. Bargaining is still a dynamic process of adaptation, as it attempts to compromise the objectives of labor unions and management. It has shown its worth innumerable times over the past quarter of a century in accomplishing the peaceful settlement of the vast majority of industrial disputes. It does not deserve to be unceremoniously discarded because it is not perfect. What is needed, however, is an urgent revitalization. The trend toward more government intervention must be reversed, and a more soul-searching appraisal of which issues are truly in the public interest must be made. Bargaining must be undertaken not just because "it's time to negotiate again," but because real and obviously important adjustments that cannot be made in any other way are calling for attention. The "shadow-boxing" involved in counter proposals for their own sake must be eliminated, and the legislative mandate to bargain "in good faith" must be redefined.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

Learn more
Follow Us