Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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Union members—is that your boss or your partner?

A poll from the Gallup organization indicates that unionized workers—government and private-sector alike—appear to have a greater tendency to view supervisors as bosses rather than as work partners.

While anti-union types immediately may cry “AHA!”—hold on—it’s not as clear-cut as all that.

As we (well, maybe not all of us) learned in survey design and analysis class, we cannot “infer cause” from these particular results.

The reason, as the survey’s authors state, is as follows: “It is not known whether certain types of workers who view supervisors in these ways are more likely to seek unionized jobs, or whether a unionized work setting changes the ways in which workers and supervisors relate.”

And we can think of some other factors that muddy things up even more. For example …

In some environments—maybe where a supervisor is wearing a tie and holding a clipboard, and a union member is wearing coveralls and holding a wrench—the latter might be a tad more likely to think of the former as a “boss” than as a “partner.”

Then again, what if everyone is wearing a tie and sitting at a desk? Does the perception of “partner” increase?

In other words, it’s all a bit complicated.

But that won’t stop us—in our very unscientific way—from asking you to tell us what you think about it.

Does belonging to a union foster a stronger perception of a supervisor as a boss? Or is it a function of other factors?

Let us know.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 18, 2011 at 12:13 PM


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