Research Paper: Examining the Impact of Labor Unions

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[. . .] One of the main arguments used to show that labor unions are outdated impediments to progress is the ever increasing managerial hostility and attitudes towards unions. This hostility and attitude is a by-product of negativity as well as other factors or a consequence of combination of factors. Managers have continued to show their negativity towards labor unions because of differences in market composition and structures, changes in labor laws, organization size, differences in public policies, union philosophies, and the impacts of unions on wages (Campolieti, Gomez & Gunderson, 2013, p.100).

Secondly, unions are seen as old-fashioned impediments to progress because many workers are not covered by collective bargaining contracts. Since these organizations are formed to help in collective bargaining, the lack of numerous bargaining contracts to cover many employers make them impediments to progress. In cases where collective bargaining contracts are used, they are negotiated between the company or business and the local union rather than national (Pencavel, 2014, p.143). Therefore, unions are no longer useful since many employers prefer to make the bargain with their employees rather than external organizations.

Thirdly, opponents of labor unions in the marketplace argue that these organizations are outdated because of the huge structural changes that have taken place in the economy or workforce because of technological advancements and globalization. These changes have mainly been brought by the shift from a manufacturing era to a post-industrial economy. These individuals argue that the structural changes have contributed to changes and decentralization of labor policy, which have addressed some of the major concerns and issues regarding workers' rights and protections. The modern labor policy is considered as a major development that results in the irrelevance of these organizations by addressing workers' concerns and ensuring that employers do not mistreat their employees.

However, there is overwhelming evidence that shows that labor unions are not old-fashioned impediments to progress because of their influence on American life and work and their contributions to the current state of the working environment. Actually, trade unions have proven to be crucial protectors and promoters of workplace benefits despite the recent decline in the rate of unionization due to reduced union membership.

First, to argue that these organizations are outdated because of changes in the composition and structure of the workplace is wrong because of the lack of evidence to support this claim. There is not explanatory power to demonstrate that the changing workforce does not need unions and has less desire to be unionized (Warner, 2013, p.111). Moreover, there is no proof that white-collar and service workers who account for a significant portion of the modern workforce are inherently unreceptive to collective bargaining. If structural and composition issues were the main reasons for decreased unionization rates, there would a similar trend of decline in union membership across various countries. In attempts to address changes in composition and structure of the workforce, the composition of unions has changed to reflect changes in workforce composition. This has in turn contributed to an increase in desire and interest in unionizing among workers.

Secondly, the argument that unions are irrelevant because many workers are not covered by collective bargaining contracts is false because of the increased mistreatment of workers by their employers due to lack of such contracts. Actually, the lack of such contracts increases the need for labor unions rather than demonstrating how they are outdated. Labor unions are needed in the workplace because they advocate for the establishment of such contracts that could eventually help minimize the mistreatment and protect workers' rights. Without these contracts, there is an increase in the decline of workers' voice and rights, which have played a crucial role in the increase in managerial and shareholding power at the expense of workers (Hiltzik, 2014).

Third, managerial hostility and attitudes towards labor unions do not necessarily make them outdated and old-fashioned organizations. Actually, the hostility and attitudes is attributed to the fact that managers have lessened these organizations to an extent where they consider them an annoyance to the corporate world. Labor unions have attracted minimal and negative attention from managers not because of their nature but because of managers' negativity towards them. The success and effectiveness of these organizations is not attributed to management attitudes and behaviors towards them but linked to their ability to promote and protect workplace benefits by focusing in workers' rights.

Therefore, labor unions are crucial promoters and protectors of workplace benefits rather than old-fashioned impediments to progress. The need for labor unions in the modern workplace is fueled by the fact that working families need collective power, representation, pride in work, and fair treatment. In the modern marketplace, corporations have mainly focused on generating more profits with little to no attention given to employees, especially with regards to their well-being. In light of this changing nature of work and focus, labor unions provide employees with platforms or opportunities to ensure their rights are protected.

Madland & Walter (2009), state that the essence of what labor unions do give employees a stronger voice to get a fair share of the economic growth they participate in creating. As the economy worsens, trade unions become more important in making the economy work for all citizens. Actually, the recent global recession was partly attributed to the lack of purchasing power by workers to drive the economy. Labor unions can help in avoiding such incidents by contributing to an accelerated pace of economic development. This pace is realized through assisting in the recruitment and selection of workers, instilling discipline among the workforce, and providing avenues for resolution of industrial disputes in rational ways ("Importance of Trade Unions," n.d.).

Labor unions have been tremendous in helping the middle class workers and families to access employment opportunities and championed numerous benefits like health care coverage and pensions. The impact of these unions is evident in the fact that union members earn considerably more than non-union employees while union employers are increasingly likely to provide benefits to their workers. Therefore, these organizations promote and protect workplace employee benefits through three major ways. First, unions help employees to obtain higher wages as compared to their non-unionized counterparts. Secondly, unionization helps to ensure there is growth in workers' wage in relation to increase in productivity. These organizations achieve this by ensuring unionized workers are rewarded for productivity growth. Third, the significance of trade unions in today's workplace is evident in its likelihood to increase the annual wages of workers.

While labor unions have had significant impact on compensation and benefits, they continue to encounter challenges and issues that affect their future trends and outlook. One of the major trends is that unionization rate is expected to continue declining because of increased negativity and hostility towards them. This negativity has been coupled with projections that these organizations add to costs and discourage productivity (Sherk, 2008). Secondly, unions are expected to continue influencing the wages and benefits provided by union employers to unionized workers. Third, labor unions with less influence will increasingly be preferred because of the decline in union approval in recent years. According to the findings of a survey, many Americans have stated that they prefer that unions have minimal influence in the future, especially because of the enactment of several laws to govern the working environment and promote and protect the rights of workers (Jones, 2012). Finally, union support is likely to decline, especially during a down economy, which would contribute to a less-union friendly working environment.

Recommendations:

In light of the expected decline in union support, these organizations should reduce their plans for employee and retiree health benefits. This measure would be in line with the increased preference for unions with less influence and help deal with the increased hostility and negativity by managers. Secondly, labor unions should change their strategies based on the changes in the nature and composition of the modern workplace in order to remain relevant. These organizations should not rely on traditional strategies but develop new ones to reflect present changes. Third, labor unions should not only focus on achieving higher wages and improved benefits for workers but promoting good relationships between employees and employers. This will enable them to gain more approval and enhance their impact on the workplace.

Conclusion/Summary:

This study has demonstrated that labor unions have continued to play a major role in the workplace with regards to protecting employees' rights. However, these organizations have face tremendous challenges in the recent past that have affected their approval, influence, and presence in the workplace. These challenges and issues contribute to the need for these unions to develop and establish new strategies that will enhance their impact and relevance in the marketplace. The limitation of this study is the relative bias in existing literature regarding the impact and significance of labor unions in the workplace. The existing literature has primarily focused on why labor unions are old-fashioned impediments to progress rather… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Examining the Impact of Labor Unions.  (2014, March 16).  Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/examining-impact-labor-unions/4269254

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