Realigning Corporate Governance: Shareholder Activism by Labor Unions
Michigan Law Review, Vol. 96, No. 4, p. 1018, February 1998
78 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2010 Last revised: 26 Jan 2011
Date Written: April 1, 1993
Labor unions are aggressively using their ownership power to push corporate-governance reforms. So far, much of their activity is tactical. Lasting changes in corporate governance can occur if unions develop a more strategic model of their role in corporate governance. A stretegic model would require unions to concentrate on areas where their interests coincide with other shareholders and where they can demonstrte that their actions will increase firm value. This requires that labor unions adopt a platform of maximizing long-term growth for shareholders and other stakeholders, as well as for themselves. In particular, unions must convince other shareholders that they are acting in areas where they have an informational advantage about the corporation's and management's operations. If labor can demonstrate to other sharholders that it is using its monitoring advantagaes to take actions to increase firm value by policing management shirking and reducing the agency costs of equity, then other shareholders will be more willing to follow its lead in future voting initiatives. This opens up the possibility that labor union shareholders could reinvigorate some currently ineffectual corporate-governance systems. These might include the policing of securities fraud and other types of corporate misconduct through the use of existing litigation techniques.
Keywords: Labor Unions, corporate, governance, shareholder,
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