Trade union democracy and efficiency


Union democracy is a term referring to the governance of trade unionsin terms of the quality of election procedures at ensuring the executives of a union most accurately represent the interests of the members. Ina German sociologist, Robert Michels propounded a view that all democratic organisations were prone to become oligarchies because of the growth and size of modern organisations, the need for specialisation trade union democracy and efficiency officials, and the necessity that this division of labour would lead the rank and file to struggle to understand the activities of their leaders.

Michels argued that this amounted to an iron law of oligarchy: This book argued that the Trade union democracy and efficiency was an exception to Michels' general law, and that the conditions necessary to ensure democracy were that an opposition to the union's leadership could form.

This depended on ensuring the leadership did not monopolize the channels of communication with members. Lipset and his coauthors confined their understanding of "democracy" to the existence of organised opposition. They were skeptical that the conditions in the ITU, which made it democratic, were likely to arise in many other unions spontaneously. Following this, inthe US Federal government passed the Landrum-Griffin Act to mandate democratic principles be followed in union governance.

While there are some superficial similarities to the so-called organizing model of union trade union democracy and efficiency, advocates of union democracy are swift to point out that many of the alleged exemplars of the organizing model do not, in their internal structure, meet the requirements listed above.

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