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Boulwarism is a negotiation tactic named after General Electric's former vice president Lemuel Boulware, who pioneered the strategy.[1][2]

In negotiations with labor unions, it is an offer which is ultimate and to which no further revisions will be made.[2] Before making the offer, the offering party will check all relevant details of the labor dispute, such as competitors' policy on similar problems and industry standards. It is commonly used to refer to "Take-it or Leave-it" bargaining tactics. According to Boulware, the position would be locked in, and would only be modified if new facts or considerations came to light. Events such as a strike were not considered to be a cause to change the 'rational solution' that was already proposed.[3][4]

It was part of a larger campaign which was formulated to undermine the authority and persuasiveness of union leadership.[3][5] Boulware himself suggested that it was a comprehensive education and training path — including a constant flow of corporate messages and documents — whereby the employer would try to convince both sides to not engage in conduct that was contrary to their own interests.[3][4] It is in concept an alternative to traditional collective bargaining.[2][3][6]

Such practices and associated tactics were found by the National Labor Relations Board to be an unfair labor practice in violation of the Wagner Act and the National Labor Relations Act on a number of different grounds, and particularly a breach of the duty to bargain in good faith, bypassing the Union and appealing to the union membership directly.[2][6][7]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Boulwarism". Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Roberts, Harold S. (1986). Boulwarism. Roberts’ Dictionary of Industrial Relations (3rd ed.). Washington D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs. pp. 76–77.
  3. ^ a b c d Schmidt, Emerson P. (Fall 1970). "The Truth About Boulwarism" (PDF). The Intercollegiate Review: 63–65. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Boulware, Lemuel R. (1969). The Truth About Boulwarism: Trying to Do Right Voluntarily. Washington D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs. pp. 80–85.
  5. ^ Perlstein, Rick (January 5 – April 1, 2007). "Boulwarism". The New Republic. Archived from the original on 2013-10-03. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  6. ^ a b General Electric Co., 150 NLRB 192, 194-95, 57 LRRM 1491 (1964), enforced, 418 F.2d 736, 756-57 (2d Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 397 U.S. 965, 90 S.Ct. 995, 25 L.Ed.2d 257 (1970)
  7. ^ Williams, Lindsey (December 22, 1964). "NLRB Kills Boulwarism And Closes An Era". Retrieved April 28, 2013.


Further reading[edit]

  • Boulware, Lemuel R. (1969). The Truth About Boulwarism: Trying to Do Right Voluntarily. Washington D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs. p. 180.
  • Evans, Thomas (August 11, 2008). The Education of Ronald Reagan: The General Electric Years and the Untold Story of His Conversion to Conservatism. Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History (Print). New York Chichester: Columbia University Press. ISBN 023113861X. ISBN 9780231138611