UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bargaining strategies of white-collar workers in British Columbia Marchak, Maureen Patricia


The primary objective of this thesis is to examine the relationship between job control — that is, the amount of discretion a worker exercises at his job — and bargaining strategies. The relationship between income and bargaining strategies is also examined, and the joint effects of income and job control are analysed. In addition, attention is given to the association between social interaction rates among workers with job control levels held constant, and bargaining strategies. The main argument associates job control with replaceability and with marketability of skills; these with bargaining strategies; and, consequently, job control with bargaining strategies. Hypotheses are stated which link low job control to the low incidence of individual bargaining, low income, willingness to join unions, and union membership. An argument then links low job control to passive behavior, and consequently to low individual bargaining, and low rates of participation in union activities. Survey research, involving interviews with white-collar workers in 43 commercial firms in British Columbia, was undertaken to test the arguments. Tests consisted of percentage comparisons between workers with differing levels of job control, with respect to specific questions and responses. Data was examined separately for men and women. Support was found for the predicted associations between job control and individual bargaining, and job control and Income. For women, but not for men, support was found for the predicted associations between job control and willingness to join unions, and job control and union membership. For men, but not for women, limited support was found for the predicted relationship between job control and participation rates in union activities. An analysis of the relationship between income and strategies revealed that low incomes are associated with willingness to join unions. When job control levels are held constant, income continues to be inversely associated with pro-union responses. Similarly, when income levels are held constant, an inverse relationship is maintained between job control and pro-union responses. High income tends to decrease the effects of low control, and high control tends to decrease the effects of low income. The two variables also interact, such that a combination of low control and low income is strongly associated with pro-union responses. It is suggested that the evidence justifies further examination of relationships between job control and bargaining strategies, but that this examination should take into consideration more detailed information regarding specific populations engaged in given skill areas, and the employment opportunities available to them. An additional argument associates low interaction rates of workers and management personnel with pro-union responses and union membership, and high interaction rates of workers and co-workers with pro-union responses and membership. The argument is stated with respect to the opportunity workers have for engaging in discussion of bargaining positions, defining the employer as an opponent, and organizing collective energies. This section of the theory was generally unsubstantiated. It is suggested that white-collar workers have higher interaction rates than manual workers, and differences in rates do not have a substantial influence on organization potential.

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