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Work

Welcome to the Work and Empowerment section of CPN. Our essays present a variety of perspectives on empowerment through employee participation, working time innovation, and union organizing. Cases are drawn from innovative union strategies in the service sector, labor-management cooperation in industrial and service sectors, community-based models of job training and welfare-to-work programs.

Civic Perspectives

Prospects for Unionism in the Service Society 1995
by Dorothy Sue Cobble

Time, Work and Civic Values: Democratizing Our Choices 1995
by Carmen Sirianni and Andrea Walsh

Union Leadership Development in the 1990s and Beyond 1995
by Susan C. Eaton

Stories & Case Studies

HandMade in America Builds a Regional Community Development Strategy. This broad-based coalition in Western North Carolina is implementing a twenty-two county community development strategy based on the unique history of the region as a center for handmade crafts. The community is one of fourteen working with the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, which focuses attention on the civic capacity of smaller cities. Case study plus.

Naugatuck Valley Project Develops Innovative Responses to Industrial Abandonment and Community Decay. For over a decade the Naugatuck Valley Project has tried to hold on to jobs, to build community and to gain control over the Valley's economy. What is most exciting about this pamphlet is that it shows how people in one locality can learn, change and assert themselves in the process of organizing around specific problems. But activists in the Valley and elsewhere understand that although local organizing can win important victories, many of the forces impacting the Valley are national and international. Case study plus.

Re-Linking Work and Family Catalyzes Organizational Change. What are the barriers to work-family integration and the development of workplaces that are equitable for men and women? The Re-linking Work and Family project and case study challenges the notions that work and family obligations are adversarial and that success—organizational, individual, and societal—lies in keeping the work and family spheres separate and distinct. By re-linking these spheres at several work sites—Xerox Corporation, Corning, Inc., and Tandem Computers, Inc.—this project provides an alternative vision of an ideal worker, a successful organization, and a functional, equitable society. Case study plus.

Project QUEST Invests in People. The leaders of two Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations in San Antonio have created a new model for economic development. This model places people at the center of a genuine, far-reaching economic development strategy, based on educating hard-working people for high-skill jobs. The result is Project QUEST (Quality Employment through Skills Training), created through collaborative relationships involving IAF leaders, the business community leadership, employers of high-skill workers, the City of San Antonio, the regional Private Industry Council (PIC), the governor, the Texas Employment Commission, education and training institutions, and state social service agencies. It is a job training program that begins not with job training schools, but with people. Story and case study plus.

Tavistock Institute Develops Practices of Contemporary Work Reform. A 1949 visit to a coal mine in which a Tavistock researcher used to work led to a discovery that began a long process of innovation in workplace redesign that is still going on today. Miners were reinventing old forms of team collaboration that proved to be particularly appropriate to new technologies. Computer-based technologies and turbulent organizational environments in the decades ahead have proved, under certain conditions, to be particularly fertile ground for redesigning work according to Tavistock principles and practices: team collaboration, self development, continuous learning, and shared access to information. Case study plus.

Union and Management Collaborate to Democratize Work at the Shell Sarnia Plant. The principles of workplace democracy, personal development through work, and collaborative organizational learning were pioneered by the Tavistock Institute in London, and then brought to the United States, Scandinavia, Canada, and many other countries from the 1960s onward. The Shell petrochemical plant in Sarnia, Ontario, provides a widely discussed example of what workplace democracy in an industrial setting, with union-management cooperation, can mean in practice. Case study plus.

Unionized Harvard Clericals Renegotiate Work Relationships
"As Harvard employees, we organized our Union around a single idea: that every employee should have the opportunity to participate in making the decisions that affect her or his working life." With this core principle, clerical and technical workers at Harvard University won recognition in 1988 after a decade of slowly building relationships of trust among each other, telling stories about their lives, and about the dignity they demanded as citizens of their community. They have now taken on the long and hard task of making those participatory ideals a reality in their everyday work relationships and in the formal structures of collaboration with management known as the Joint Councils. Case study plus.