Table of Contents Show
- What is a Union?
- Pros of Unions
- Cons of Unions
What is a Union?
A union is an organisation formed by workers who work towards safeguarding their interests through raising their voice in the workplace.
Labor Unions represent all workforce in terms of getting their rights at the workplace.
A labor union is also called a trade union.
In a labor Union, the leader of the union is elected through voting following a democratic system. The unions have the sole purpose of benefiting the workers by improving their workplace.
The leader of the union talks to the boss as a representation of its members. It is a process of negotiations in regards to their wages, working conditions, job description, job security, benefits of employees, safety standards, promotions, and many other related things.
Pros of Unions
1. Unions Encourage Increase in Pay
Unions have an advantage of promoting a higher wage. The process of collective bargaining takes place which convinces the relevant people (management) to increase the wages of the employees.
As a unionized worker, you will love when you get an increment and get additional benefits like a good pension.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15.8 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union in 2021.
Employers also have to increase they pay of non-union workers in competition so that they do not leave the job.
2. Unions Provide Workers with Protection
When you are not a part of a union in the United States, your job is at risk. Employers can lay you off whenever they feel like, without giving you a valid reason.
Whereas, when you are a part of a union, the employer can not fire you without a fair reason. Union membership is a powerful entity which has a lot of voice when something unjust is happening.
When a company wishes to fire an employee who is a union member, there is a proper procedure that needs to be followed. Unions give the employees the authority to demand an explanation for their termination.
Some of the unions even take the companies to court if their members face discrimination, biases, or any kind of unjust terminations.
Union representation is definitely very beneficial!
3. Unions set Trends!
Unions do benefit the workers in many ways.
They have been really helpful in making the workforce something. When unions did not exist, workers did not even got off weekends nor did they get any amenities.
Organisations used to be hard on them and there was no concept of respecting a worker regardless of their status.
Even now, the United States has not been 100% unionized. The ones that exist have been setting trends and benefitting the employee class.
With the help of unionisation, we are able to get the minimum wages, there have been rules made about overtime, there are workplace protocols, and etc.
Provided that you have chosen a good union representative, achieving goals is easy.
4. Political Organising is Easier with Unions
In a democratic country like the United States, the citizens have the power to choose their leader and the political system.
Unions consist of the working class people, hence, it is easier to encourage the political causes that the working class supports.
All in all, unions put forward the political voice of its members. Unions have the ability to keep the members focused on problems.
5. Unions provide you with Retirement Benefits
A worker who is part of a union is capable of receiving better retirement benefits than non union workers.
According to the researches, only 64% non-union employees get good retirement benefits whereas, over 90% of the union members get good retirement benefits by their employer.
Therefore, being a union member is beneficial for you as an employee.
Cons of Unions
1. Lack of Individuality
In a union, because there is a group of people aiming towards same goals, there is lack of individuality. If as a union member, you do not agree with something, you can not really do anything about it.
When joining a union, there is a union contract that you sign.
As a member of the union you are bound to agree to the decisions made and follow them. You can not leave the union over a one-time conflict.
Moreover, working in a group makes your individual creativity escape you.
2. Union Fees
There are two categories in which workplace unions are divided: open and closed. In the open category, the employees are not asked to pay any fees or dues to be a part of the union.
While in the closed category, the employees have to be a part of the union in order to apply for the job. Employees do apply as a non-member too but if they are hired, they have to be a member of the union.
Some organisations do allow employees to work as non-members but then they have to pay the agency fees. It is the fees of the work that the union is providing with.
Workers do not willingly pay the union dues or the fees of being a part of the union. This is because the fees is deducted from their pay check. This reduction in the salary wipes out the increase the union has been working on getting.
3. Discrimination among Union Members
Unions follow the traditional ways as they focus more on seniority rather than education and experience.
Unions tend to have their own internal leadership structures which are built on favouritism.
This clearly means that if you are someone you has been with the company for the longest time then you have the chance of getting promoted than any other employee who might be more talented.
This is wrong in the sense because the youth of today is smarter than the senior employees an organisation has.
Promotions should be on the basis of skills and expertise rather than seniority.
If a company wishes to layoff employees, they would prefer laying off the least senior person first regardless of their experience and qualification.
4. Unions Cause the Business Expenses to Rise
Every union that exists really pushes the organisation to increase the salaries of the workers. Due to this reason, businesses end up paying high to the employees.
Workers getting higher pays means that the production costs will rise up and the consumer will end up paying a high price for a basic product.
Businesses today are preferring non union members to hire because of these reasons. Hiring union members is expensive for them. As increasing the prices of basic commodities will make them lose their customers and suffer loss.
Also, in order to create better working conditions for the employees, companies have to spend money which is an additional expense for them.
5. Unions Affect the Environment of the Organisation
The point here is that always fighting for rights and talking about increase in salary will create chaos and damage the peace of the organisation.
Sometimes unions intentionally or unintentionally pit the workers against the organisation. The goal of the organisation is something that the workforce is expected to work towards.
If they have their own individual goals then working in an organisation is something that is not for them if they can not work together in peace.
If the Union destroys the culture of an organisation, what is a bigger con of a union than this?
To sum up, like any other thing, Unions also have their pros and cons that need to be considered. Even if you are the owner of the company or an employee, you need to figure out your stance in regards to a Union.
A union exists only to fight for the rights of the workers and makes sure that they are treated fairly and get all the possible benefits from the organisation.
Some just fight for their American workers to get a minimum wage!
There is downside of unions too. It tends to divide the workforce which eventually has an effect on workplace environment. The relationship of a worker with the management is also at stake.
In the United States, companies do prefer a unionised workforce over a non-unionised one. This benefits them in a way that they can listen to the leader of the union as a representer of the whole.
Are you part of a Union?