Dr. Victor Devinatz, Distinguished Professor in the College of Business since 1991, has published 100 journal articles, 42 essays/articles in encyclopedias, three book chapters, and a scholarly book since arriving at Illinois State. In academic journals, he has published more than 60 articles in outlets such as Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, Labour/Le Travail, Labor History, Industrial Relations, Science & Society, Journal of Labor Research, Labor Studies Journal, Journal of Collective Negotiations in the Public Sector, and Labor Law Journal, among others. Devinatz teaches courses in labor relations, human resource management and conflict management/dispute resolution. He is nationally recognized for his expertise in qualitative research in a wide variety of labor relations and employment relations topics where he utilizes ethnographic, oral history and archival research methodologies. In addition, Devinatz has been recognized as an excellent teacher that is renowned for his knowledge and passion in the classroom.
In 2003, Devinatz was a recipient of a Merl E. Reed Research Fellowship in Southern Labor History. In addition, in 2005, Devinatz won the Illinois State University Outstanding Researcher Award. In 2004 and 1999, he was named a Caterpillar Faculty Scholar; he received the College of Business Research Award in 2010, 2003 and 1997 and was the recipient of a University Research Initiative Award in 1994. Devinatz, from the Department of Management and Quantitative Methods, is the recipient of the 2014-2015 Hobart and Marian Gardner Hinderliter Endowed Professorship.
Although the "golden age" of US trade unionism lasted from 1945 to 1975, union density (the percentage of eligible workers who are union members) fell from a peak of 34 percent in 1954 to 11.3 percent in 2012. University Distinguished Professor Dr. Devinatz finds this declining union density has negatively impacted both union and nonunion workers who have experienced declining real (adjusted for inflation) wages. When unions were strong and they negotiated higher wages for their memberships, nonunion companies raised their wages (the "threat effect") in order to discourage unionization. Using 2000 as the base year, real wages peaked at nearly $20 per hour in 1970 while in 2012, the average worker earned $8.50 per hour. Given these statistics, this article proposes a strategy for reviving the US trade union movement.
Dr. Devinatz proposes approach for US trade union movement revival involves having union members utilize their creative energies in devising strategies to reenergize unions. Such methods were successfully developed by the union members themselves in the United Food and Commercial Workers' victorious organizing drive at Smithfield Foods (North Carolina) in 2008 and in the triumphant plant occupation conducted by United Electrical Workers Local 1110 members at Republic Door and Window (Chicago) in December 2008 in obtaining back wages and severance pay when the factory abruptly closed. This strategy also requires the modification of collective bargaining so that it can become a vehicle in advocating for positive social change through overhauling problematic industries, providing economic opportunities, and transforming business practices that hurt communities and harm the environment. He suggest that to successfully implement this approach, community representatives and nonunion workers would have to be incorporated into the union's negotiation committee.
Victor G. Devinatz, "The Crisis of US Trade Unionism and What Needs to be Done," Labor Law Journal, Vol. 64, No. 1 (2013): 5-19.