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Much is being written today about the changing nature of the American workforce. This article summarizes 10 of these changes: (a) global competition; (b) the changing skills of work; (c) the declining impact of unions; (d) the altered human composition of the workforce; (e) the effects of continuous improvement, downsizing, and reengineering; (f) the growing use of part-time employees; (g) the widening income gap; (h) lessened employer and employee loyalty and commitment; (i) early retirement programs; and (j) telecommunications and virtual employees. Rather than just identifying and documenting these trends, this article discusses the ethical implications of such movements. In this article, employee relations ethics is defined as "treating employees properly, with respect and dignity." The term employee relations ethics is used both individually and collectively to analyze the negative human results from a moral rather than an economic perspective. The age-old clash between bottom-line mentality (economics) versus higher order thinking (ethics) is revisited with a focus on employees, not owners (old theory) or customers (new theory).


This is an Author’s Original Manuscript of an article submitted for consideration in Ethics & Behavior, copyright Taylor & Francis; Ethics & Behavior is available online at doi: 10.1207/S15327019EB1101_3