Labor Unions Workers of the world unite!
Labor Unions • Def. an organization of workers that tries to improve working conditions, wages and benefits for its members. • Also known as Organized Labor • Less than 14% of U.S. workers belong to a labor union.
Declines in Union Membership • Unions rose to prominence in the 1930s, but several factors have led to declines in union membership since the 1950s: • “Right to Work” Laws Laws which ban mandatory union membership at the workplace. A union cannot force workers to join.
Declines in Union Membership • Economic Trends Unions have traditionally been strongest in the manufacturing sector, representing workers who have industrial jobs. These jobs have been declining in number as the American economy becomes more service oriented. Less manufacturing jobs, less union workers.
Declines in Union Membership • Fulfillment of Union Goals With the government setting standards for workplace safety, and with more benefits being provided by both private and government sources, some claim that the union membership has decreased simply because their goals have been fulfilled.
Types of Union Workplaces Union workplaces fall into 3 categories: • Union Shop: will hire nonunion workers, but requires them to join the union once hired. • Closed Shop: hires only union members (must be a member before hiring). These are now illegal.
Unions in the Workplace • Agency Shop: will hire nonunion workers, and does not require workers to join the union. However, nonunion workers must pay union dues and are covered by the union contract.
Collective Bargaining Def. The process in which union and company representatives meet to negotiate a new labor contract. The contract contains all the requirements of workers to the employer and the employer to the workers. They include; salary, benefits, working conditions, work day/hours, conditions for hiring/firing, etc.
Collective Bargaining In collective bargaining for a new contract, unions argue for: • Better wages and benefits • Safe working conditions • Conditions under which an employee can be fired
Collective Bargaining When a contract needs to be renewed, union and employer representatives meet and discuss their demands. Compromises are made until a new contract is agreed upon by both sides. A vote by union members is held to approve a new contract. But, what if both sides cannot agree on a new contract?
If Collective Bargaining Fails… • Mediation: Def. A settlement technique in which a neutral mediator (usually a judge) meets with both sides and suggests a solution for both sides. The mediation is non-binding, i.e. the union or management can reject the mediation. Ex. The union wants a 5% raise, management offers a 1% raise. The mediator suggests a 3% raise. Both union and management can reject the offer!
If Collective Bargaining Fails… • Arbitration: Def. A settlement technique in which a third party (arbitrator) reviews the case and imposes a decision that both sides are required to accept. Ex. Union wants a 5% raise, management offers 1%. The arbitrator imposes a 3% raise. The union has to accept the arbitration without a vote.
Other tools of unions • Work slowdown: in order to put pressure on management, unions could ask members to work as little as required by the contract. Ex. Using all sick days (called the “blue flu”), leaving and coming to work exactly on time (work to rule), not working overtime, etc.
Union’s Ultimate Weapon! • STRIKES! • Def. A strike is an organized work stoppage intended to force an employer to address union demands. • Strikes can be harmful to both employer and union members. The employer loses money and business to competitors during a strike, union members do not get paid during a strike. It becomes a waiting game- who can last the longest.
Replacement Workers • Replacement workers (a.k.a. Strikebreakers or Scabs) are hired to replace striking workers.