Discuss the labor-management relationship between managers, employees, and unions at Northwest Airlines.

Answer the Discussion question and respond to the two responses below.

Discussion Question

This week’s discussion concerns the video that can be viewed by pasting the following link in your browser: Labor’s Comeback: In-sourcing Work at Northwest Airlines. You will be prompted to enter your last name and 7-digit student ID# followed by “EWL.” You will be directed to the first segment of the video. Watch each segment. Although this took place several years ago, it is an interesting aspect of labor relations. Please post a response with your reaction to the video. Also respond to other posts.

First response

  • The video discusses the labor-management relationship between managers, employees, and unions at Northwest Airlines. Northwest is one of the first airlines that have developed Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) and Farm-Out Committees. This gives employees, either unionized or nonunionized, the opportunity to make decision and impact the success of the company. It also gives employees returns on the success of the company. This gives employees a sense of ownership and essential helps increase the productivity and innovation of the employees.

It seems based on the discussion of Sandrin, that union leaders are well informed and involved in the companies tasks that offer positions. He discusses that Northwest will meet with union leadership when they plan farm-out, or jobs that they will send for outsourcing. The union leaders will evaluate if the work can be done in house just as cost effective. He discusses that the farm-out committees are able to keep the jobs in house and add employment for union members. Increased in job security by keeping the positions in house help with the motivation and satisfaction of employees. From the video, Northwest is the only airline currently using farm-out committees, comprised of management and union representation. The process can show the importance of involvement of union leadership and representative to not only union members, but non-union employees and managers. Having a great working relationship that is involved and well thought out, ensure avoidance of distribution in work or costly court fees.

Another discussion in the video was the relationship between unions and companies. In the past, unions were seen as an entity that was fueled by hostility and wanted nothing to do with comprising or working together with a company to reach a solution. Even at Northwest, Sandrin discusses that there were 17 months of strikes. Today, Northwest has a great relationship with the union, build on respect. Each organization takes respectful consideration of each other’s plan and views and they work together to reach a solution. In my opinion, employees will respect the company in return because working successfully with the union shows that the management cares for the employees. Employees tend to work harder if they believe everyone has their best interest in mind and treats them with dignity and respect.

Second response

  • The importance of the ESOP thought process has not yet become the norm in organizations.  However the actions that Northwest airlines has taken in implement the actions is very important.  Allowing employees to have a greater literal and figurative stock in the organization will improve actions at all levels.  Employees who feel motivated to take pride in their position will improve at all levels.  I think the most interesting that the philosophy of the implementation is more advanced than the line individuals who would be taking part in the organization.  The interviewed employee highlights that with the new actions of ensuring that hostility versus the new believe in dignity and respect, however the middle management and lower level workers in the organization have yet to embrace this due to years of the old regime being inclined to not give employees the dignity they deserve, or allowing middle management input into large decisions.  The changes that are taking place will take time for all levels to embrace, but when they do Northwest will be well ahead of the times in ensuring all personnel associated with the organization are active members.

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