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Disintegrating Democracy at WorkLabor Unions and the Future of Good Jobs in the Service Economy$
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Virginia Doellgast

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450471

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450471.001.0001

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Losing Power in the Networked Firm

Losing Power in the Networked Firm

(p.122) 4 Losing Power in the Networked Firm
Disintegrating Democracy at Work

Virginia Doellgast

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines organizational restructuring in major telecommunications firms or corporate groups, along with their implications for employees working across networked call centers. Telecommunications employers have used restructuring measures such as outsourcing, subsidiary creation, and consolidation of jobs in both the United States and Germany to reduce costs, often with the effect of weakening or avoiding collective agreements. Managers either moved work or sold locations to call center subcontractors with substantially lower union density, few collective agreements, and in Germany, weaker works councils. Using a number of case studies, this chapter compares the strategies adopted by labor unions and works councils at major telecommunications firms toward organizational restructuring, and their effects on management strategy and worker outcomes. It shows that organizational restructuring not only had a disorganizing effect on industrial relations institutions in the telecommunications sector, but also has made it more difficult for unions to establish new institutions across the more decentralized “production networks” used by companies to organize their call center work.

Keywords:   organizational restructuring, telecommunications firms, call centers, United States, Germany, collective agreements, works councils, labor unions, industrial relations, production networks

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