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(Solved) The Scenario and Task:

The Scenario and Task:

In March 2015 in the United States, Boeingâs biggest union (the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers â IAM) filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a vote on unionizing 2400 workers at Boeingâs South Carolina plant (see Appendix A). The plant is responsible for making and assembling major parts of the new 787 Dreamliner. This is a major project for Boeing - as of June 2015, Boeing had orders for 1095 Dreamlinerâs from 60 customers (

Unfortunately, Boeing has a history of labour unrest, particularly at this non-unionised site (previous unrest in 2011). Nor is this the first controversy to confront the company in terms of its employment relations. In fact, Boeingâs reputation for its anti-union stance has received much media and limited but growing academic attention (some of which are included/referred to below).

You are a senior Employment Relations Advisor to the Boeing Group. Although the union withdrew its petition with the NLRB in April 2015, your boss is concerned that this wonât be the end of the matter. Indeed, she suspects the union will try to unionise the plant again soon. Given the importance of the project to the organisation, she wants to be ready to implement a strategy so as to avoid unnecessary industrial action that, in the past, has cost the company dearly. She has asked you to develop an ER strategy for the management of this plant assuming that, one day, the decision goes in favour of the unions and the factory becomes organised.

Your report should include:

(1)       A discussion of two alternative ER strategies:

ï· one based on unitarist values, and

ï· the other on pluralist values;

(2)       With both perspectives you need to discuss how management should approach their relationships with employees and unions.  Note: you need to ensure these actions are consistent with the respective value positions. The Bamber et al. (2009) reading on Airlines (below) will be very useful here.

(3)       A recommendation, given the scenario, of which ER value (unitarism or pluralism) you choose to inform the strategy;

(4)       Critical analysis of why you think this value is the most appropriate for this scenario. Put another way, what are the potential advantages/disadvantages or benefits/risks of each of the two options?

She has given you a link to the NLRB and a YouTube clip to give you some background information on the union position to get you started.

Essential Requirements:

Length:           3,000 word report, excluding references and appendices.

Value:             30%

Format:          Report style

Submission:    Electronic copy through Turnitin.

Note that it is your responsibility to keep a copy of each assessment task that is submitted.

Assessment Criteria:

The assessment criteria are as follows:

A. Scoping of the issues (20% of the total mark)

B. Substantive content (40% of the total mark)

C. Response to the issues (40% of the total mark)

Some Hints:

This topic requires an understanding of theory and practice.

·        The theory relates to the relationship between these values/frames of reference and management ER strategy.

·        In terms of practice, your account of the two management options should include the actions that management would take if it adopted a unitarist or a pluralist approach. In other words, you should not rely on simplistic general assertions but rather get into the detail of what management should do in order to achieve their desired outcomes. Remember, these need to be consistent with your value position.

As with all ER analysis, your account of the alternative management strategies and their likely success will be heavily influenced by context. In other words, given that the scenario relates to the aerospace industry in the US, their labour laws and institutions will influence the plans and actions of management. The likely success of either strategy will also influenced by other contextual factors, from the state of the product market and changing labour market conditions; to the contractual obligations and/or financial situation of the company; to the personalities and career ambitions of the managers and union representatives involved.

Despite the importance of context, this exercise is not, however, expecting you to be experts on US labor law or the aerospace industry. Nor do we want you to make all sorts of assumptions about the âfactsâ of the scenario.

Your advice should be informed by research, including articles in refereed academic journals, as well as information from relevant web-based sources. Indeed, there is a lot of information out there - DO NOT GET SIDETRACKED! To keep you focused on ER, you must cite and use at least five such quality academic articles â see the Discussion Board for a list. Failure to meet this requirement will result in the loss of marks. Please note, this is the minimum number of ER sources â the more you read and demonstrate your understanding, the more marks can be given. Remember to consider the course readings.

Initial Readings:

Aside from your set Topic readings, the following readings may help you build your understanding of the issues and get you started (There is no requirement to include these references in your paper).

(i) Unitarism, pluralism and management ER strategy

Befort, S. and Budd, J. (2009) Invisible Hands, Invisible Objectives: Bringing Workplace Law and Public Policy into Focus, Stanford University Press.

Bray, M., Waring, P. and Cooper, R. (2014). Theoretical Comparisons, Chapter 3 in Employment Relations: Theory and Practice (2nd ed.). Sydney: McGraw-Hill.

Budd, J and Bhave, D (2012), âValues, Ideologies, and Frames of Reference in Industrial Relationsâ, Chapter 5, in P. Blyton, N. Bacon, J. Fiorito and E. Heery (eds), The Sage Handbook of Industrial Relations, Sage, London.

Fox, A. (1966). Managementâs Frame of Reference, excerpt from Industrial Sociology and Industrial Relations, Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employer Associations, Research Papers 3, HMSO, London, Part 1, pp.2-14 in A. Flanders (ed) (1969) Collective Bargaining. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Bamber, G. et al. (2009), âLow Cost Competition in the Airline Industryâ in Bamber, G. et al., Up in the Air: How Airlines Can Improve Their Performance by Engaging Their Employees. Ithaca: ILR Press. Chapter 1, particularly pp. 11-13. Note, this chapter is available through the online readings.

(ii) Employment relations in USA â see Week 5, Topic 5

Friedman, G 2013, âThe United Statesâ, in C. Frege and J. Kelly (eds) Comparative Employment Relations in the Global Economy, Routledge, NY. Chapter 9.

(iii) The US aerospace industry

Kleiner, M, Leonard, J and Pilarski, A (2002), âHow industrial relations affects plant performance: the case of commercial aircraft manufacturingâ, Industrial and Labor Relations 55(2).

General Information on Aerospace industry in US:

Appendix 1

Machinists Seek Vote on Union at Boeing Site

Wall Street Journal, 17 Mar 2015

Ostrower, Jon

Boeing Co.'s biggest union filed with the National Labor Relations Board for a vote on unionizing 2,400 workers at Boeing's South Carolina plant, a move that could stoke new tension in the aerospace company's long-standing battle with organized labor.

The NLRB would need to review Monday's filing by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to determine whether the requirements for a unionization vote have been met. A spokesman for the IAM said the agency would set a date for any election after that review.

The vote plan is the latest round in years of battling over the plant in North Charleston, S.C., Boeing's first nonunion plant for commercial jet assembly, which the company selected nearly six years ago after several strikes by workers at its main manufacturing base in Washington State.

The IAM said the central concerns of the staff at the South Carolina plant, which makes and assembles major parts of Boeing's long-range 787 Dreamliner, include mandatory overtime, fair wages and "lack of respect on the shop floor." The site has struggled to achieve a regular production tempo and Boeing has increased overtime to get caught up.

Boeing said the vote is a decision for employees on whether to "turn over their rights to the IAM or keep a direct relationship with the company." Boeing said it has established a website, a Facebook page and other outlets to give employees its views on the IAM's efforts. The IAM has launched its own social-media efforts as well.

Boeing, ahead of Monday's filing, had waged a vocal campaign to dissuade its employees from supporting a vote, enlisting local leaders such as Gov. Nikki Haley to speak out against the unionization effort. South Carolina has the second-lowest rates of unionization in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with 2.2% of workers belonging to organized labor.

The IAM criticized Gov. Haley in its statement and said "Boeing workers have a legal right to an election process that is free of intimidation and harassment."

Boeing in January assigned veteran executive Beverly Wyse to run the South Carolina operations, succeeding a retiring executive whom IAM organizers had cited as the root of worker grievances. Ms. Wyse has historically had a better relationship with Boeing's organized workforce, having run the company's single-aisle 737 program in Renton, Wash.

"Boeing South Carolina teammates have done what so many people said couldn't be done," Ms. Wyse said in Boeing's statement Monday. Now, she said, the union has "begun to divide our team at a time when we're just beginning to jell and catch a solid rhythm in production."

It is unclear how long the NLRB's decision will take. The agency will first review the IAM's filing and will hold a hearing March 26 to determine if an election is warranted, said a Boeing spokeswoman. The company has the option for a consent order with the IAM to hold the vote, but Boeing opposes any agreement that would clear the way for an election.

The South Carolina plant has given Boeing important leverage in dealing with its unions. It first acquired two struggling suppliers at the South Carolina site in 2008 and 2009, and soon after selected it for what is now a sprawling assembly facility that built about 5% of Boeing's commercial jetliners last year.

The IAM previously represented workers in the two suppliers' plants, but the workforce in 2009 voted to decertify the union at the site a month before Boeing's selection of it for 787 assembly.

The factory has been a political flash point before. In 2011, the NLRB ruled the selection of the North Charleston plant was in retaliation for a roughly two-month strike by IAM members in 2008. The NLRB ruling, which never altered Boeing's plans for the site, triggered Republican criticism of the Obama administration during the Republican presidential primary.

Boeing and the IAM at the end of 2011 negotiated a new contract that would keep production of single-aisle jets in unionized facilities in Washington State. The union withdrew its complaint with the NLRB shortly after.


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