9 Disadvantages and Advantages of Labor Unions

Unions have been the focus of many political debates in the recent years. Labor unions are organizations that represent a collective group of employees. They handle all of the negotiations for their work hours, benefits, working conditions, and terms of termination. Public work groups, such as plumbers or construction workers, are the most common industries that are involved in unions. They work directly with their union board to communicate their demands, and the union board then negotiates with the employers on the workers behalf. There are many great advantages to being involved in a union, both for the employees as well as the employers, however, there are certainly some deep seeded issues as well.

Advantages of Labor Unions

1. Increased Wages
Negotiating better pay for their members is one of the main goals of labor unions. The employees that are members all come together and discuss what they feel is appropriate pay for the jobs that they do, and the union communicates them for them in an organized way.

2. Improved Job Security
Terms of terminations are rules and regulations on what is “just cause” for firing an employee. Companies cannot simply fire an employee for a very minute reason if they are a member of a labor union.

3. Come Together As Cohesive Group
There is great power in numbers. Labor unions allow employees that have problems with their working conditions can come together through a union and speak as a collective group. This gains much more credibility and respect from companies and corporations than if individual employees tried to invoke change.

4. Great Benefits
Health and retirement benefits are a big concern for all working people. In non union situations the terms of these benefits are left completely up to the company. By joining a union, employees are guaranteed a certain minimum of benefits from their employer.

5. Helps To Boost Productivity
When people are more motivated to do a higher quantity and quality of work if they feel they are being looked after and taken care of. Labor unions promote this feeling and increases moral of the workplace, which in turn, increases productivity.

Disadvantages of Labor Unions

1. A System of Abuse
When they where first established, labor unions served a wonderful purpose. The working conditions in factories during the late 1800’s were horrible, and the pay was just as bad. Labor unions helped to stop this abuse of laborers. However, in today’s modern times, the labor union systems are greatly abused. People know exactly what their company can and cannot fire them for. All of the loop holes have been exposed and exploited with labor unions.

2. Hard Workers Are Devalued
Fair wages mean that all employees of the same level are paid the same. This is very bad for a business because some workers simply deserve higher pay than others. When there is no possibility of division, than no one strives to be better and high quality workers do not feel that they are valued and are not motivated to keep the good work going.

3. Seniority Is Toxic
Industries that are ruled by labor unions have to follow strict rules, especially when it comes to job promotions. Typically, the job is given to the employee who has been at the company for the longest. Qualifications and skills are not even taken into account. This is bad for everyone because a person who has been at a company for the less amount of time may be the best fit for the job, but they are not given the job because someone, who may be less fit for the particular job, has to be given it simply because they have been there longer.

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Important Facts About Labor Unions

  • In order to be represented by a labor union you are required to pay annual dues. These dues can range anywhere from 200 to 2,000 dollars.
  • Employees who work in a labor union are paid a higher wage. Nearly 200 dollars per week more on average.
  • Labor day is celebrated because of the labor union movement in the late 1800’s.
  • Of all of the wages paid to Americans every year, 12.3 percent is paid to union members.
  • There are currently over 15 millions members of labor unions in the United States.
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