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Evolution of the industrial relations system of the United States in the last quarter of the 20th century has brought increasing emphasis on ensuring the nation's economic vitality in a changing global marketplace. The possibility of achieving more efficient productive processes by altering relationships between supervisors and workers has resulted exploration of various arrangements designed to tap the experience and productive knowledge of workers. In a unionized environment, methods of worker participation may be viewed as external to the collective bargaining process. Even when the union is officially supportive, the process of developing worker interest can be difficult. This study examines attitudes of union leaders and rank-and-file members toward the participative process in an effort to identify factors that influence their decision-making process. Since a theory of worker participation is still emerging, theoretical concepts from economics, industrial relations and organizational behavior were applied to the question. Attitudes were assessed by means of a questionnaire mailed to officers and members in one district of the United Steelworkers of America. Views were sought on their jobs, the employer and the work environment, the union and its role in the workplace, and cooperative programs. Demographic information also was obtained. Workers were asked whether participative plans should be initiated where they work, whether they would join, and if successful programs were possible. Discriminant function analysis was used to identify the linear combination of independent variables that best captured group differences on each question. Of 13 direct and composite measures, union activity, official status, age and optimism about cooperation were significantly associated with each decision. Educational attainment, company commitment and workplace dissatisfaction were significant in the decision to start or join programs. The findings suggest criteria for selecting receptive locations and individuals for introduction of participative programs, and activities that would prepare workers to take part. Special consideration is recommended for early involvement of rank-and-file workers in the introduction process, and for the role of the union steward in the educational phase of implementation. Further research into the decision-making process and implementation techniques, program evaluation, and longitudinal analysis, is proposed.