Union Membership Paradox Term Paper

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Union Membership Paradox

Union is an organization of a number of employees that was actually formed with the purpose of having a platform from which they could better argue or bargain with the employer of the organization. (Definition of Union) the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that today, that is, in the year 2004, about 12.5% of the entire population of wage as well as salaried workers belonged to the Union, and this was a fall from the rate of 12.9% in the year 2003, and from 20.1% in 1983. More than 36% of government workers were members of the Union in 2004, and this was a substantially higher figure than that of the number of members who belonged to the Union from the various private-sector industries, that was about 8%. In addition, what was very evident was that the two important occupational groups, that is, individuals in the fields of education, in the field of training, and of library occupations, and of protective service occupations like the fire services and police demonstrated the highest rates for unionization in the year 2004, that is, about 37% each. (Union Members Summary)

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Men also showed more inclination than women to belong to the Union, and blacks were more interested in joining the Union than were whites or Asians or Hispanics. In the same year, what was clear was the fact that those full time wage as well as salary workers who belonged to a union was earning about $781 weekly on average, and those wage and salary workers who were not represented by any Union were only earning about $612 per week. Why is there this type of difference, and what does it reveal? The difference, in fact, reflects numerous influences, like for example, the coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, and the various differences in the distribution of union members as well as non-union members in terms of the industry to which they belong, the size of the organization in which they are employed at the present time, and also the differences that are inherent in different geographic locations. (Union Members Summary)

Term Paper on Union Membership Paradox Assignment

The 'Current Population Survey' is a survey that is conducted by the 'Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics' on a monthly basis of more than 50,000 households, every year for the past fifty years and more. This survey provides most of the important information that is seen as being necessary for the Labor Bureau, and reveals certain traits and characteristics of the working population of the United States of America. Generally, the sample population that is selected for the survey represents the civilian and non-institutional population of America. All the respondents of the survey are expected to respond to questions put to them about the employment status of the working member of their household, who is fifteen years of age and older than fifteen. (Union Membership and Coverage Database from the Current Population Survey: Overview)

What the sample achieves is that it provides certain estimates for the entire nation as a whole and also serves as a part of model-based estimates of certain specific geographic states and of certain states. The statistics and estimates obtained by the CPS is useful to government policy makers and to legislators of the country because of the fact hat they are very important indicators of the very economic condition of the nation, and serve to aid and help the government in planning and formulating and implementing various programs conceived of by them. In addition, this type of data also helps students, academicians, and the press, and also the general public in their research of the population and the demographics of the working population of the country. (Union Membership and Coverage Database from the Current Population Survey: Overview)

The data from CPS has proved to be extremely useful to the U.S. Department of Labor too, because of the fact that it helps the Department to ascertain the membership in the various Unions that exist in the country. This is how it was noticed that there was a significant drop in Union membership over the years, and this has labor officials extremely worried. It was only about twenty-five short years ago that each and every worker in the United States of America was proud to be carrying a Union Card that would proclaim the membership of the individual to a particular union. Today, aside from a teacher or a fire fighter or a police officer, there are not many people who belong to the Union and proclaim to others that they do indeed belong to one. However, it is a well-known fact that this decline has been gradual and steady, and has been happening over a period of many years. However, there are many people who are not able to accept the present situation, and feel that the change was not necessary and is dramatic. (Drop in Union Membership has Labor Officials Worried)

For example, stagnant job growth was responsible for the fact that employment did not decrease in the state of Wisconsin, but at the same time, the number of members of the Union has not increased; it has leveled off, despite the fact that there were 48,000 jobs lost in the factories in the year 2001. However, David Newby, the president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO has said that though there was a hemorrhaging of sorts in previous years, the process has not stopped completely, but just slowed down for some time. Some of the losses accrued during the loss of factory jobs were made up by the gains that happened to service-sector officials and to public employees and also to certain building traders, but the government would have to enforce budget cuts that would take an inevitable toll on the public sector, and what must be kept in mind is the fact that the public sector has a union membership of 36.4% annually. (Drop in Union Membership has Labor Officials Worried)

It is a fact that in every country anywhere in the world, workers have organized themselves into a union that is referred to as a 'labor union'. All members of a particular craft or an industry or a particular type of occupation belong to this union, and the reason for this is that the worker discovers that, by himself, as an individual, he cannot hope to escape form the capitalist greed of any government and its people. At the same time, were an employer allowed to be able to deal with each and every worker separately and individually, and be able to set the wages and the working standards that he fancies, then there would be massive amounts of corruption and unfair practices. In the same way, if a worker were to sell himself as an individual for a particular job, without belonging to the union, then he would find that there are many other workers who would not hesitate to 'underbid' him in order to secure the job for them. Therefore, if a worker enrolled himself in a union, then he would find that it would be actually possible to protect himself from the unscrupulous employer who may make attempts to lower his wages or lower his working standards as and how he pleases. Also, it would be possible for the worker to gather himself in a group of other workers and represent himself in any type of conflict, so that it would be possible to 'bargain collectively'. (the Fight for Socialism: The Principles and Program of the Workers Party)

Despite all these advantages, why is there a decline in membership in unions? According to an expert in the University of Illinois, the very role of labor unions in the larger scheme of things may finally and eventually evolve from workplace bargainers to specialized service-legal-providers, and this is because of the fact that union membership and union representation has been on a steady decline for the past many years. However, job related grievances has not decreased, and this issue raises the important question of whether there would be now a new trend of revitalized unions, and whether these would be able to handle the various needs of employees. This is indicative, in fact, of the dramatic change that is taking place today. The union movement grew from when it started in the first half of the twentieth century as a direct result of the 'proletarianization' of the entire workforce in various factories all over the United States of America. Unions were in fact totally self-governing institutions, and were capable of not only addressing the various needs of the workers, but also of providing various other specialized services such as a 'widow's fund', dance halls, and language classes, and so on to all its members. It is a fact that the need for such services has been gradually decreasing over the years, as the workforce is now more mobile, and the individual worker is now solely concerned with his own well being and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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