Business Administration Education Guide

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Shhhh, Hey, You Want To Form A Union?

Unions and everything involved with unions have become so complex that you may wonder if they’re related to the IRS department. What I thought would be a simple informative article on What is A Union, has turned up a metropolitan city sized dump yard full of blogs, commentaries and articles both for and against unionization.

So what is a union?

A union is an organized group of workers who come together to make decisions about the conditions of their work as one group. Through union membership, workers can influence wages, work hours, benefits, workplace health and safety, and other work-related issues for they’re workers.

Many of the benefits and protections workers enjoy today came about as a result of union efforts. These include the minimum wage, social security payments, an eight hour day and weekends, overtime pay, the American with Disabilities Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act which requires employers to meet safety standards for their workers. Under U.S. law, workers of all ages have the right to join a union. Having support from the union to ensure fair treatment in the workplace is one of the key reasons people join.

However, somewhere within the last several years unionization has been a dynamite issue. The pros being a blow torch and the cons a being the dynamite, both sides have their devils.

The union claim is that employers are engaging in rampant unfair labor practices to prevent employees from exercising their right to organize. On the other hand, data from the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union elections, show no rise in such activities.

Employers have used humiliation, intimidation and bribes to discontinue forming a union. After a failed attempt to unionize, employees are than fired. So who is right and who’s wrong? Both actually.

Union membership in the US has been dropping and each side is shouting intimidation tactics. Unless your ear lays heavily into the discussion, it’s easy to get lost in all the hot polluted air.

I’m definitely not an export on Labor Relations & Unionization and this is just a summary of what is what. I researched the information from the viewpoint of someone who has no clue what a union is, what all the fuss is about and in all truth, that’s pretty accurate. As I researched the abundance of political information available online, I felt lost in the question “who’s telling the truth” and “Do I really need a union?” Each side presents a valid and very convincing argument.

At Holy Coast blog Rick Moore writes
“The reason for this [union membership] decline isn't illegal management meddling in organizing efforts. The problem is that unions haven't been able to persuade the workers themselves.”

However at Robert Reich's Blog he writes

“You’d think that more than seventy years after the right to form a union was enshrined in the National Labor Relations Act, workers could have a union if a majority wanted one.

Think again. Under current law, a majority vote isn’t nearly enough. Even if one hundred percent of workers want a union, employers can still stop them by demanding that the simple vote be followed by a complex process ending in a secret ballot – a process so long and drawn out that some employers use the time to fire union organizers and threaten others. End of story.”

Union membership has continued to fall since 1950. Back than roughly a third of American workers were unionized. Today’s numbers show that below 10 percent of employees is union members. Here is where the political dark clouds start floating in.
The Employee Free Choice Act, strive to reverse the declining trend by making it easier for unions to gain certification and reinforcing stronger penalties for employers who interfere with a unionization campaign. Union supports argue that without union representation, employees will not have the bargaining power needed to get their fair share of employee wages and benefits.

The House of Representatives voted to approve legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize workers. This means that the secret-ballot election has been removed from the unionization process. Supporters claim this helps forming unions easier. Those against it argued that it is a betrayal of workers’ right to a secret-ballot election and encourages Pro union to intimidation of workers into becoming unionized when in fact they have no wish to.

A report compiled by American Rights at Work found that several employer anti-union actions such as hiring alleged "union busting" law firms and consultants, threatening and firing union supporters and bribing workers against unionization.

Conversely, card-check elections are a hot debate. In a card check election unions gain recognition on the basis of signed union member cards rather than by a secret ballot election. i.e. potential members must sign the card-check in front of union leaders.

I could go and on presenting information from both sides that prove and disprove arguments for and against unions. After so much research, I don’t know whether I am for or against unions. The internet has yet again provided information overload. In the end, whether you are for or against unions is a personal choice based on who you believe.

Ideas Rule The World

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