Pros and Cons of Unions Today
GB 541: Employment Law
Unit 6: Research Paper Assignment (Final)
June 12, 2014
Prof. K. Rauch
Unions in America
Currently, there is are over 60 unions representing over 14 million workers throughout the country. A labor union is defined as an organization intended to represent the collective interests of workers in negotiations with employers over wages, hours and working conditions. Labor unions are often industry-specific and tend to be more common in manufacturing, mining, construction, transportation and the public sector (Labor Unions, 2014). Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") in 1935 to protect the rights of employees ...view middle of the document...
Craft unions were the earlier unions and consisted of mostly carpenters. Nationwide unions did not flourish, due to economic conditions, and in the beginning it was very difficult to start until the late 1800’s. During this time there was a huge surge of new workers into the workplace that needed representation. The National Labor Union founded in 1866 did not make a huge impact in establishing worker’s rights, but it did set an important precedent for the country. The Knights of Labor was one of the earliest unions and had approximately 700,000 members and focused on addressing key issues, such opposition to child labor and demands for an eight-hour day (History of Labor Unions, 2014).
Labor Day is one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States and it is recognized on the first Monday of September. President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day as a federal holiday because of the Pullman Strike. In June of 1984, disgruntled employees of Pullman Palace Car company joined the American Railroad union because the declined in wages. The union boycott so that Pullman did not have any type of cars on their railroads. Within four days, when the strike begun because some employees was disciplined for not switching railroad cars, 125,000 workers had walked off the job. The strike that killed 13 people was broken up by Marshalls and some navy men because it interfered with the U.S. mail services. For this political reason President Cleveland declared Labor Day a holiday.
Reasons for Unions
Union membership is very important for employers because it assists them in negotiating employment contract through collective bargaining. Treating employees fairly has come a long way and unions have proven to be beneficial. For example, workers at a GM factory were forced to sit inside the factory for 5 hours without water or toilet facilities, while waiting for parts to arrive. Working was not as pleasant as working for a company today, if the factory was closed down three hours for any reason, the workers were forced to work an additional three hours for no pay, to make production (Bain, 2010). Providing a safe and healthy work environment is important for employees and for this reasons Unions work hard to ensure that the employer is carrying out their duties. Union work environments have a high level of compliance with safety regulations as compared to other environments.
Union provided employees with higher compensations and a better overall benefit package. Normally, union members tend to make 30% higher than non-union members and approximately 97% of union member have a health benefit package (Lovering, 2014). Job protection is also a major concern for employees and with the collective agreement contract, it could ensure that fair process are being followed. Also, employees are able to have a union representative when in a meeting discussing reprimands or in a situation when their job is on the line. Retirement and...