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Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 1993

Abstract

After a decline in influence during the Reagan-Bush years, the labor movement is infused with a new sense of optimism, a feeling that Lynn Williams, president of the United Steelworkers of America, shares. Admittedly, labor''s numbers are bad and getting worse. Unions represent only 11.5% of the private labor force, down from a 16.8% 10 years ago and 35% 40 years ago. But, as Williams points out in this interview, labor''s influence extends far beyond its numbers. Politically, its concentration in certain regions makes it a formidable force. Amidst this more hospitable environment, many of the ideas that Williams has thought about and fought for over the years are finding an audience and becoming a reality: cooperation between labor and management, worker participation in decision making, and employee ownership of successful industrial ventures.

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Abstract

After a decline in influence during the Reagan-Bush years, the labor movement is infused with a new sense of optimism, a feeling that Lynn Williams, president of the United Steelworkers of America, shares. Admittedly, labor''s numbers are bad and getting worse. Unions represent only 11.5% of the private labor force, down from a 16.8% 10 years ago and 35% 40 years ago. But, as Williams points out in this interview, labor''s influence extends far beyond its numbers. Politically, its concentration in certain regions makes it a formidable force. Amidst this more hospitable environment, many of the ideas that Williams has thought about and fought for over the years are finding an audience and becoming a reality: cooperation between labor and management, worker participation in decision making, and employee ownership of successful industrial ventures.

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