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case study The Summer of 2006 Union Negotiations: Unite Here’s Strategy



    1. Why do words like “organized labor”, “unions”, and the “Labor Movement†, seemed like vestiges from a bygone era?
      What has caused the steady decline of unionization in the private sector since the post-World War II boom?
      3. UNITE HERE has declared that it would not organize the “old fashion way†. What are the old fashion approaches to unionization and why are they no longer desirable?
      4. What is the “Change to Win†organizing strategy?
      5. What role has globalization played in the changing opportunities and threats faced by union organizations?
      6. Why would an employer ever agree to a neutrality agreement?
      7. If you were a hotel operator could you have avoided the summer of 2006 situation? Do unions negatively affect service? 


Subject History Pages 5 Style APA


  1. The Summer of 2006 Union Negotiations: Unite Here’s Strategy

Organized Labour/Labour Movements/Unions

In North America, the phrases organized labour, labour movements, and unions seemed like vestiges form the bygone era because of the decline in their influence in the private sector in the American business. Prior to the 2000s, the activities of the labour movements and unions in America had reached peak of their national power with their influence being felt far and wide. Union leaders during this peak period were well known and as powerful as senators or Members of the House of Representatives. Unions enjoyed very high membership with most hotels being unionized. Union membership was at its peak in the 1950s reaching 35 percent of the U.S workforce. However, there has been a steady decline since then with only 13.7 percent of private sector workers being unionized currently (Enz, 2010).

Decline of Unionization in the Private Sector

The decline in the proportion of private sector workers in union organizations is attributed to two divergent trends. First, there is the steep fall in the percentage of private wage and salary workers who were organized. The second reason is the sharp rise in the percentage of the public workers who were organized (Tufts, 2009). As a result, unionism became less prevalent and qualitatively divergent than during the immediate pre-World War II period.

The Old Fashion Approaches to Unionization

In the traditional/old fashioned strategy of negotiations, unions adopted a number of strategies to organize. For instance, they would request members to apply for jobs in nonorganized firms that the unions sought to organize. In this case, the principle purpose for the employer joining the firm was to organize them. the strategy is commonly referred to as salting. The second strategy involved the use of current employees in selling the union to their colleagues. The third strategy is where unions set up picket lines at the property entrance and exits or enter the property and hand out authorization cards (Enz, 2010).

These strategies can be somewhat ineffective since they largely dependent on the employees. The influence of the union in getting employers to be organized is limited by the approach of these strategies. As such, the unions lack autonomy and are limited in its capacity to initiate any meaningful change.

The organizing strategy of Change to Win

Change to Win has differentiated itself as the organizing federation focused on a lean, mean, organizing strategy. Change to Win possesses a greater authority over the member unions operations including in resource allocation, organizing, as well as the coordination of joint campaigns. The union is particularly focused on new member organizing with more funding dedicated to such initiatives (Stuart, 2011). The assumption behind this idea is that financial allocation acts as a key predictor of unions’ success. This strategy has in turn initiated a shift in policy and practice in the way unions have been traditionally operating.

The Role of Globalization

During the 1940s and 1950s, the US was the main producer of heavy manufactured items such as automobiles and lighter manufactured items such as textiles. These dominant industries were heavily unionized. However, by the late 1990s, employment in the manufacturing industries in the Us fell by 1.8 million. The workers in the manufacturing industries dominated the unions’ membership. This period saw a shift in the US production sector from manufacturing into services. The shift is associated closely with globalization (Sherwyn, Eigen, & Wagner, 2006). This was a major threat to the survival of the unions at the time whose membership was predominantly from the manufacturing sector. They experienced a sharp decline in membership following a shift to service industry. On the other hand, the occurrence presented a new opportunity as well. The new service industry presented a new pool of potential membership for organizing. As a result, there was the formation of the HERE organization to cater for the hotel industry which cannot be relocated or outsourced overseas.

Neutrality Agreement

Employees are often forced by prevailing circumstances to sign a neutrality agreement. By and large, unions embark on a fierce corporate campaign through publicity stunts, boycotts, blackmail, and frivolous law suits to pressure the company into signing the neutrality agreement (Early, 2013). As such, companies find themselves at a deadlock with no option but to agree to the contract. The company in signing the neutrality agreement is avoiding negative publicity and the damage it would have on the business.

As an hotelier, the best option would have been to strive and avoid the harms that would come with a strike during such a high peak season. As such, the best option would be to go forward and negotiate with the unions for a god deal instead of waiting to see how Hilton would approach the situation or abandoning the negotiations and facing possible harms of a strike.

Unions tax company investments such as R&D by negotiating higher wages for their members. This in turn lowers profits and companies are forced to respond to the union tax by reducing investment. With less investment, unionized companies are rendered less competitive. Economists have also found that unions benefit their members in terms of negotiation for higher wages while harming the overall economy (Holbeche, 2009). Firms pass the cost of higher wages onto consumers through higher prices.




Early, S. (2013). Organizing for the Long Haul: Colonizing to the Rescue?. Workingusa16(3), 351-369. doi:10.1111/wusa.12057

Enz, C. A. (2010). Hospitality strategic management: Concepts and cases. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.

Holbeche, L. (2009). Aligning Human Resources and Business Strategy. Amsterdam: Routledge.

Sherwyn, D., Eigen, Z., & Wagner, P. (2006). The Hotel Industry’s Summer of 2006. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly47(4), 337. doi:10.1177/0010880406292810

Sherwyn, D., Eigen, Z., & Wagner, P. (2006). The hotel industry’s summer of 2006: a watershed moment for America’s labor unions?. Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly, (4). 337.

Stuart, F. (2011). Unite Here. Social Policy40(4), 13-23.

Tufts, S. (2009). Hospitality unionism and labour market adjustment: Toward Schumpeterian unionism?. Geoforum40(Labouring Geography: Negotiating Scales, Strategies and Future Directions), 980-990. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2009.08.008





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