Will Unionism Prosper in Cyber-Space? The Promise of the Internet for Employee Organization

Wayne J. Diamond, Richard B. Freeman

NBER Working Paper No. 8483
Issued in September 2001
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies Program

This paper argues that the low cost of information, communication, and interaction on the Web offers trade unions opportunities to improve services and attract members and thus reinvent themselves for the 21st Century. Analyzing current use of the Internet by unions in the United Kingdom and United States, we develop five hypothesis about the impact of the Internet on unions. 1) the Customized Services hypothesis that unions will individualize services; 2) the Cyber-organizing hypothesis that the Web will ease organization and produce virtual minority unions at many non-union firms; 3) the Cyber-democracy hypothesis that the Web will enhance democracy in unions; 4) the Cyber-dispute hypothesis that the Web will become an important space for industrial disputes; and 5) the New Internationalism hypothesis that the Web will strengthen the international labor community. If unions fail to exploit the opportunities on the Web to gain members, we expect other organizations, Internet recruitment sites, specialized advice centers, and the like, to fill the e-union niche.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8483

Published: Diamond, W. J. and R. B. Freeman. "Will Unionism Prosper In CyberSpace? The Promise Of The Internet For Employee Organization," British Journal of Industrial Relations, 2002, v40(3,Sep), 569-596. citation courtesy of

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