News
June 7, 2018

New Paper on Worker Voice to Appear in ILR Review


The 2017 survey found that interest in joining a union has increased among nonunionized employees.

A new paper stemming from a worker voice research project supported by the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at MIT Sloan will be forthcoming in the journal ILR Review in 2019. 

The paper, currently titled "Voice Gaps at Work, Options for Closing Them, and Challenges for Future Actions and Research," is authored by Thomas A. Kochan, William T. Kimball, Duanyi Yang, and Erin L. Kelly. It reports the results of a national survey of the state of worker voice in the U.S. and options available to workers for closing the gaps between the amount of say or influence they expect to have on their job and their actual level of influence.

In the paper, the authors draw on a nationally representative survey of workers that both updates previous surveys conducted in 1995 and 1977 and goes beyond the scope of these previous efforts to consider a wider array of workplace issues and a broader array of voice options. Results indicated that workers believe they ought to have a voice on the full set of workplace issues, but there are substantial gaps between their expected and actual voice. Nearly 50 percent of nonunionized workers want to join a union -- compared to approximately one third in the two prior national surveys. Additionally, there are significant variations in the rates of use and satisfaction with different voice options. The results suggest that there are sizable voice gaps in American workplaces today but there is no voice option that fits all workers or all issues.

"Today’s workers expect to have a voice on the full spectrum of issues affecting how they work, how they are personally treated, their compensation and working conditions, and the values their organization stands for and the products or services they help produce or deliver," Kochan, Kimball, Yang, and Kelly write. "However, a gap is still evident between the amount of influence workers expect and what they experience. While there is a gap across all of the issues examined, it is largest on compensation (benefits and wages), promotions, and job security."

You can read the current draft of the paper here.