Free Research Paper On The Power Of Labor Unions
The Power of Unions in USA today
A union is an association of people that agree to work together for a purpose. The working of union is democratic where elections are held for officers. The elected officers then make decisions for the protection of their rights on behalf of their members. There are around 60 national/international unions working across USA. "In the United States, Unions represented about one-third of all workers in the 1960s" (Licthenstein, 2013). At the moment, unions symbolize only about 13% of the total labor force. Although diluted in many areas, Labor Unions persist to be a vital force in a lot of aspects of the economy. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the core union in USA, consisting of a large number of industrial and occupational unions. Corruption is a major issue to be dealt with in America, as they show involvement of sinister groups. Unions are mostly found in public sector as compared to private sector. In US economy there is a huge difference in salaries of people working in different designations and to strive for the protection of workers’ rights, unions are present. Collectively these unions cover 15% of bargaining for the sake of negotiating agreements (Licthenstein, 2013).
Today, labor unions are serving the purpose including increasing wages, raising the standard of living of the workers, ensuring safe working conditions, and increasing benefit for workers and their families. With the advent of National Labor Relation Act in 1935, unions have put the command of government behind as well for the defense of labor privileges. Workers want unions to take a refuge in case of any hazardous policy by the corporate and they can influence management to change their decisions with the help of such associations. Management on the other hand do not like unions because when the company goes from boom to decline, in a specific economy, certain decisions are required to be taken even if opposed by these unions. In the beginning of eighteenth century, unions were smaller in size and they did not created hassles in work activities. With the passage of time, as they became stronger and workers supported them, their influence amplified.
With the decline in labor unions, there has been ever increasing differences in wages of workers. Due to this inequality there is need of organized labor particularly for two reasons: unions make economy strong by demanding equality and secondly it also influences the wage rate of non-union members as well by shifting wage levels to the top instead of moving it to bottom (which happens in the absence of unions). Economy works better when union worker acts as a customer and not as a cost (Fairborther and Yates, 2013).
Since 1970, the growth of credit unions has been phenomenal in United States, where credit union is a co-operative financial institution having members. These unions are targeted for people who want to become self-sufficient in their financial dealings (Goddard , Mckillop and Wilson 2002). Alongside, trade unions are becoming powerful in USA as well for the sake of economic prosperity with the help of economic integration.
Unions are viewed as the voice of labor and the declining power of unions in USA is alarming which means that the labor rights will be in danger then. So, keeping in view the example of Netherlands where there is more unionization and lower levels of labor market rules, United States should also consider the concept of “worker voice” that is the function of unions to communicate the requirements of employees to employers and in this way overcoming the combined crises. A new law passed by legislators in 2012 indicates that the power of unions in USA is significantly decreasing. American unions already have a small part of the authority today as compared to the power of these unions in last few decades. Today, only 12 percent of workers are a part of these unions. Contrary to that in 1983, the percentage was higher that is 20% according to federal data of America. Moreover this trend is even lesser in private organizations as mentioned earlier. Even the fee has been dropped that earlier workers used to pay to Labor Union for working in unionized organizations (Bronfenbrenner, 2003).
The declining trend in unionized organizations today is mainly blamed on big organizations because they want to want more free trade, lesser wages and lesser absenteeism. According to an Economist Chris Edwards, the unions have been losing power in private sector due to increased competition, globalization and then he added that the main reason of their downfall is their ineligibility to add to the value of workers today as organizations themselves can better take care of their employees. In 2014, Governor Scott Walker cut joint bargaining rights for public workers and allowed negotiations to be done on wages only. The afore-mentioned measure also added to the difficulties in union formation (Goddard, McKillop and Wilson, 2002).
The automation in industry today has also added to the difficulties of union formation because there is declining need of manual work done by workers, so the unions already existing are trying to compensate labor by dividing them among jobs and providing them shorter working hours. Hence, in this way most of the labor gets opportunity to work through unions. In recent years, major portion of jobs are held by women, young people who are temporary or part time workers, this category of people are less open to union membership and that is the reason why trend of unionization is declining in USA. The southern and western parts of United States have more integrated American industry as compared to northern or the eastern region. This has a pitfall as well that these areas are weak exhibitors of union custom as well (Bronfenbrenner, 2003).
The rise in campaigns of employers has a greater win ratio as compared to the efforts of the labor unions. All these factors have contributed in the decreased power of unions in the United States of America.
Bronfenbrenner, K. (2003). The American labor movement and the resurgence in union organizing.
Fairbrother, P., & Yates, C. (Eds.). (2013). Trade unions in renewal: A comparative study. Routledge.
Lichtenstein, N. (2013). State of the union: A century of American labor. Princeton University Press.
Goddard, J. A., McKillop, D. G., & Wilson, J. O. (2002). The growth of US credit unions. Journal of banking & finance, 26(12), 2327-2356.