The New York Times: Workers of the World, Sit Tight

The New York Times covers an interesting case study in labor management relations to keep union jobs:

As a union steward, Newcomb feared that unless something changed, the plant would shut down and everyone would lose his job. So in the mid-’90s, his union asked management to attend its High Performance Work Organization Partnership program, which was creating a revolution in labor-management relations. In addition to regular collective bargaining, union members and their managers engaged in trust-building exercises and developed plans to collaborate on improving conditions, products and profits. After a tough few years (“I mean really tough,” Newcomb said), the union persuaded management to provide an incentive program and improve the pension and insurance plans. When management requested more efficiency, Newcomb helped them downsize not by firing workers but by not replacing retiring ones. These changes helped it thrive despite two recessions in a decade. And although the plant, now owned by Ashland Inc., currently exports about 50 percent of its product, it’s keeping production in Kentucky, where it recently invested $15 million in upgrades. “We make things so much cheaper than anyplace now,” Newcomb explained. Ninety-nine percent of that particularly pesky chemical now passes inspection.

Read more at the New York Times.