Until the 1970s it was assumed that unionism adopting the ‘Dunlop model
’ would expand inall developed capitalist countries and that collective bargaining on an industry-wide basewould become the preferred method of setting wages, hours, and working conditions. This proved to be the case in the 1950s and 1960s in North America and Western Europe. But theeconomic slump of the 1970s and 1980s gave rise to a neo-liberal reaction, trade liberalizationand deregulation. This meant the end of the so-called ‘Dunlop model’ (Dunlop 1958) that prevailed in post-World War II.In Dunlop’s model, attention was also turning to other actors and their interactions, andconcluded with an explanation of the rules governing employment relationships that evolvedout of these interactions. According to Dunlop and his school (Kerr, Harbison, Dunlop, andMyers 1960), the logic of industrialization would lead to a convergence toward a common setof formal arrangements as capitalist mechanisms expand to all economic sectors. Therefore,the rise of industrial unionism and industry-wide bargaining has to be considered asinevitable. The merits and shortcomings of the Dunlop model were extensively discussed inlater works on American industrial relations (Kochan, Katz, and McKenzie 1986). In addition,Marxists (Davis 1980) and
(Goldfield 1987) argue that the functionalistDunlop model does not pay enough attention to the nature of American capitalism,international competition and the process of capitalist accumulation determining theentrepreneurial and trades-union strategies. Moreover, the rise of industrial unionism and thesubsequent industry-wide bargaining practices should be seen as a response of organizedlabour to monopoly capital and
hollowing out the very base of craft unionism after World War I, not as the outcome of a modernization process affecting governmental policiesand management strategies.The ‘Dunlop model’ was the outcome of a long history of class conflicts, sectoral strugglesand economic changes leading to the formation of a semi-skilled industrial working classconcentrated in large production units. In the history of industrial relations, three broad stagescan be discerned in the transition from craft unionism to industrial unionism and the rise of collective bargaining systems:
Task differentiation breaking down the craft into a series of simpler jobs with foremenstill knowing the entire production process and with a wage system based on piecerates;
Increasing capital requirements with the introduction of simple machines for sometasks in big workhouses and putting-out for some tasks still done by hand;
Large factories with power-driven machinery and the end of putting-out practices. Aslong as a retail or custom-order market existed local craftsmen could survive in their old manner, especially in local a luxury markets and defend the traditions of craftunionism during the first decades of monopoly capitalism (Hirsch 1978: 15-36).
According to Dunlop’s system model, analysis of industrial relations should begin by considering the variousenvironmental contexts that affect employment relationships economic forces, technology, and the broad political legal and social forces that determine the power of labour and management. Dunlop was on the NationalWear Labor Board and consulted with the Office of Economic Stabilization and the Office of War Mobilizationand Reconversion. After the war, Dunlop returned to Harvard. He served as Chairman of the NationalCommission on Productivity (1970-1975) and chairman of the Construction Industry Stabilization Committee(1971-1973). He was also director of Nixon’s Cost of Wage Council (1973-194) and Ford’s Secretary of Labor (1975-1976) until he resigned in a dispute over policy. He served Clinton as chairman of the Commission on theFuture of Worker-Management Relations (1993-1995).