The Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Britain has been advocating two contrasting approaches to union revitalization namely: ‘labour—management partnership’ and ‘union organizing’. Using a case study of a public services union this article examines empirically the prospects of union revival offered by these two contrasting approaches. Public services with relatively high union density should offer better prospects for union revival through partnership. However, the authors’ findings indicate that even in public services, partnership was not associated with management’s support for union recruitment, better facility time provisions for union representatives, lower worker grievances or union membership gains. Rank-and-file organizing, on the other hand, was associated with lower worker grievances, greater worker satisfaction with the union, higher worker involvement in union activities and union membership gains. Overall, the findings question the ‘mutual gains’ assertions of partnership advocates and lend support to the critics of partnership who propose an alternative organizing approach to union revitalization.
- industrial relations
- labour—management cooperation
- union organizing