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Employment of the handicapped: operational forces influencing advocacy efforts of labor and management representatives
Sark, Karen Gail McKeever
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As a result of noncompliance and other operational forces (e.g., economic, political) in the world of work, handicapped adults have the lowest labor force participation rates and lowest earnings within the classifications of age, sex, race, and education. Many research studies have examined elements which contribute to this bleak picture, but none have investigated the advocacy role of organized labor for qualified handicapped adults seeking employment or the impact on labor officials' advocacy efforts by operational forces in the world of work. The purpose of this study was to identify the forces which influence labor unions' advocacy efforts for the employment of handicapped individuals. Two research questions were developed: (1) How do identified driving and restraining forces impact on labor union officials' advocacy efforts for qualified handicapped adults? (2) What are the forces which impact on employers' willingness to hire qualified handicapped adults? A case study approach and theoretical collection of data were selected. Two sites were purposefully chosen for their political and social diversities, and a third site was selected for its national perspective. Fifty nine subjects were purposely selected ii from four groups: community advocates, handicapped adults, private sector managers and labor union representatives. Data collection methods were: interviews, observations and document review. Data were inductively analyzed. The data analysis process involved the identification of categories and generalized relations among categories. Mini case studies of each subgroup at each geographical location were developed. Data were further collapsed as these mini case studies were merged to develop a case study of each geographical site. A cross site analysis then was conducted. The multiple comparisons made of the differences and similarities among groups and among communities led to the development of four substantive theories: (1) A restraining force to labor union advocacy for handicapped adults is labor union representatives' failure to recognize that the forces which impact on the handicapped applicant also affect the disabled union member. Lack of knowledge and attitudinal barriers were primary indicators. (2) Attitudinal barriers have a more direct impact on local labor union officials' advocacy efforts than do organized labor's traditional roles and one to one policy. (3) Employers' perceptions of the threat of the federal government's potential for enforcement of Sections 503 and 402 is a primary operational force which impacts on the degree to which federal contractors comply with the federal mandates. (4) Managers' fears of increases in compensation premiums and their belief that handicapped workers are not productive are primary economic and psychological restraining forces.
- Doctoral Dissertations