From 1948 to 1979, the labor relations in the North American automobile industry have unchanged. Its basic characters were (1) the wages, the fringe benefits, the work rules, and the working conditions were negotiated and set mainly through collective bargaining, (2) a pattern bargaining which set agreements on common
standards within and across industries, (3) job control unionism which included the detailed job classification system, (4) the quasi−juridical grievance procedures which included the third party arbitration. In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, GM pursued the southern strategy that the company opened the new plants in the right−to−work states and did not recognize the UAW. In the early 1970s, big 3, especially GM,
started QWL (Quality of Work Life) program. They challenged the basic characters of the labor relations in the North American automobile industry but could not change them. Since 1979, however, the North American automobile industry has experienced the drastic changes of the
labor relations. The Japanese transplants and lean production system have affected it. First, they brought the workers participating system or the employee involvement system including the QC circle and the team concept. Second, the increase of the Japanese car sales made the UAW negotiate the concession bargaining that deviated from the pattern bargaining. Third, they weakened the job control unionism. Finally, they did away with the
detailed work rule and made it difficult to file the grievances.