The cooperation strategy is an endorsement of joint decision making at the plant level. The purpose is to improve company performance via increased efficiency and productivity, higher product quality, and better supplier/customer services. There are three different types of labor-relations strategies: union-avoidance, mixed, and cooperation. Cooperation programs can be risky because parties have very limited experience or expertise at formulating and implementing the significant organizational changes required to make cooperative efforts successful.
In the 1920s Cooperative efforts to improve productivity and production standards began, especially in the railroad, textile, and garment industries. Because of enormous and unrelenting market forces at work, labor-management relations have had to change. The volatile market during the late 1970s and throughout most of the 1980s coupled with long-run market pressures have required that unionized organizations become far more adaptable and flexible and that they continually improve performance. American history shows that cooperation has been a short-lived experience for nearly all unionized organizations.
There are many reasons that these programs are said to be harmful to the workforce. Due to the fact that the goals of the union and management are conflicting, it is hard for them to ever reach a solid agreement. The purpose of these programs was to make employees lives better in addition to the collective bargaining strategies that most companies already have. Although they were supposed to help the employees' lives in the workplace, benefits were often accrued only to the management. It seems as though labor management cooperation programs have done more harm than good in the time that they have been around. Experts say that it would be in the best interest of the employees to get rid of these programs altogether and work solely with the collective bargaining agreements (Gold 24 ).
However, from the management's point of view, labor management cooperation programs are advantageous in the workplace. That does not appear to be true to employees or unions working under these programs or managers. According to the book "Empty Promises," managers would often increase production speed of assembly lines dramatically which would provide cruel setbacks for workers although these programs made promises of the hope of better jobs. A company called progress motors offered their input about the programs and how they were affecting the workplace. Most of the workers of progressive motors did not believe that the opportunity to improve product quality was due to these programs. The changes that they saw in their opinion were a direct result of the importance that management has decided to place on quality over quantity. At progress motors , management told workers that this program would allow them to use their brain power on the job and would give them greater autonomy when, in reality, the only positive part was the human relations aspect; this included a more humane, less authoritarian supervisory style. There were a few reports of improved job satisfaction, but those reports frequently turned out to be totally unrelated to any changes made in job content, they were often from unrelated reasons (Wells 67-69).
As far an opinion from the union side about the programs; William W. Winpinsinger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said that these programs were a management plot that weakens labor unions and takes away attention from the basic and essential issues of wages, job security, and health and safety. The negative approach to these programs is based partially on the view that the aims of these programs are motherhood goals. "No one argues the fact that conditions at work should be improved, but it is believed that that goal can best be achieved by redoubling union efforts to obtain higher wages. Shorter hours and improved benefit packages"(gold 28).