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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 25, 2005

Skill Formation, Outsourcing, and Craft Unionism in Air Transport

Cyrus Bina and Bart D. Finzel
From the journal Global Economy Journal

The purpose of this article is twofold: (1) to rekindle old debates surrounding the efficacy of craft unionism (as opposed industrial unionism) in the age of globalization in order to provide insight into recent contentions by the Airline Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) regarding the potential for craft strategy among mechanics in the air transport industry; and (2) to present a theoretical framework that combines the process of skill formation and technological change in a consistent and unifying manner. The theoretical framework offered here illuminates the transitory nature and meaning of skills in capitalism. Given the transitory meaning of skills and their extrinsic determination by the fast-pace of technology, to maintain reliance on the intrinsic value of skills alone—as AMFA seemingly does— should invite skepticism.Three global trends are identified that affect mechanics in air transport: the diminished role of major carriers, the change of fleet composition, and the growing use of outsourcing. These developments are discussed and their consequence for skilling and deskilling is examined. These tendencies align with the view that universal labor contingency is an aspect of contemporary globalization. In view of this fact, the article urges labor educator and union activists to carefully evaluate AMFA’s strategy.

Published Online: 2005-3-25

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