Labor Unions

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Labor Unions and Unionization

Organizations known as labor unions are designed to represent the employees of the many industries covered by the labor laws of the United States. Among the duties of labor unions include negotiating pay, ensuring that members have favorable working circumstances, better scheduling, higher living standards, and better benefits for all of their members. According to Aleks (2015) the process of bringing new members from previously non-unionized fields into a union is known as unionization of employees. An organizer for the union may approach a few of the potential members, or the potential members may approach the union themselves. Getting the employees' names and signatures is the subsequent stage to show that they are willing to be represented by the union. After the union has determined whether the number of workers has met the minimum requirement of thirty percent, they start the process of educating the employees on the benefits of being represented by the union. The union then helps to set up an organizing committee. The objective of this step is to select the leaders that will be representing the employees and educate them about the union laws. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is the law that oversees the relationship between the union and the employees (Aleks, 2015). It ensures that the employees observe the employees rights during the bargaining process. The employees then agree to the terms and conditions of the union and become members of the union.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

In this situation, the best union to represent the employees would be the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union was formed in the year 1979, and it currently has more than 1.3 million members across the United States and Canada. This union is the best because it covers workers in various sectors ranging from the agriculture, healthcare, processing, and manufacturing sectors among other. The Union has had various achievements over the past, and this also makes it the best option for the employees.

Achievements of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

In the year 2003, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union declared a strike on a California based grocery (Wood, 2015). The employers had imposed new changes to the labor contract which included cuts in the pension and health care benefits. The union managed to come to an agreement with the company, and the employees’ benefits were reinstated. The other accomplishments involve the unionization of companies which had been fighting against their employees joining the union such as Smithfield foods and Walmart (Wood, 2015). The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union have been involved in conflicts with various corporations in an attempt to recruit their members and fighting against mistreatment of workers.

Responsibilities of Workers

The workers have various responsibilities. The workers who have already joined the union have the mandate to discuss with the other coworkers about the importance of joining the union. The workers have the responsibility of reporting any cases of threatening from the management. The company managements are always against the unionization of the workers because this means that all their actions will be scrutinized by the union. The management usually tries all it can to make the workers vote against the union including bribing and firing threats. The reasons behind this move are because the management tries to avoid things such as strikes, high labor costs, spending so much time on contracts and grievances and avoiding competitive advantage in hiring (Warren, 2015). The company always wants to remain in control over their workers. The workers, therefore, have a mandate of reporting any case of mistreatment from the management to the union officials. They also can report the management for bringing in new rules without being consulted.

Role of Unions in Improving Working Conditions and Wages

Over the past, the unions have been credited with helping improve the working conditions of the workers as well as their wages (Warren, 2015). The unions use collective bargaining power to negotiate the wages which are best for their members. They always demand wages which are above the equilibrium wages so that their members can live in good conditions. Therefore, one of the things that the union can do to help labor is to push for minimum wage increase. The union can organize negotiations with the company management to increase the wages of the workers. If this process fails then, the union can call for a strike. The main advantages of the unions are that they bring more equality among the workers because they mainly fight for a minimum wage increase for the nonskilled workers (Aleks, 2015). The union can also negotiate for paid leaves for the workers. Studies show that the unionized workers enjoy more fringe benefits than the nonunionized workers. In addition, the union will help the workers to have employer-provided insurance and pension plans.

Union's Role in Ensuring Safe Working Environments

Apart from the wage increase, the union fights against poor working conditions of their employees. The union may sue the employer for not following the labor rules and regulations. The union always ensures that their members are working in safe working environments and that they are provided with the necessary working tools and clothes (Wood, 2015). The union makes the employers contribute more money to the health and pension plans. Statistics reveal that the unionized employees are guaranteed benefits in retirement, and their employers contribute 28 percent more towards their pension plans.

Employer's Rights and Employee's Ability to Join a Union

During the union campaign, the employers have a right to try and convince the employees not to join the union. However, the law states that the employers must not engage in activities that can hinder the employee's free choice during the voting process. An employer can be sued if he or she engages in activities such as bribing, threatening, and promising to offer the employees benefits once they vote against the union or threats of reprisal. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is mandated to ensure that the employer does not engage in such activities or interfere with the employee's ability to make a free will in any way (Wood, 2015). If found to have done such things the union can win without any election taking place. However, there are certain things that the employee can do to stop the unionization process.

Influencing Overseas Branches and Global Union Networks

The employers can inform the employee that they have a right not to sign the cards or refrain from joining the union because the union will demand a certain percentage of their wages (Samnani, Boekhorst, & Harrison, 2016). The employers can also inform the employees about the benefits that they can enjoy when they are enjoying before unionization and the ones that they will fail to enjoy once they become members of the union. In addition, the employers can inform the employees about the possible strikes, assessments, and fines that may arise after unionization. Inform them of the disadvantages that the unionized employees are facing compared to them. The company can tell the employees that even small matters such as shift schedules would have to be presented and negotiated by the unions (Samnani, Boekhorst, & Harrison, 2016). If the employer manages to convince the employees, they may vote against the unionization process.

Globalization and Unionization

The employees based in the overseas branches may also be influenced to join unions in their respective countries. The union members may talk to the leaders in the oversea branches and inform them about the advantages of unionization. The employees, on the other hand, may inform the overseas workers about the benefits that they are enjoying locally for joining the union. In addition, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is a member of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO). The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, on the other hand, is a member of the International Trade Union Confederation which is a global union network present in over 175 countries (Wood, 2015). This, therefore, means that the employee in the oversea countries can join a union that is a member of the International Trade Union Confederation (Hessami, & Baskaran, 2015). The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union can organize unionization in the other countries through the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

The Impact of Different Country Rules on Unionization

Although globalization brings countries and business closer, studies show that it does not affect organization and bargaining process. This is because different countries have different rules. There are countries where the unions have little effect because the governments have implemented stringent rules. There are other countries where unionization has decreased, and the employees in those countries may fail to join the unions (Hessami, & Baskaran, 2015). The employees may not have the same protection in the countries and once they threaten to strike they may be fired by the management in those countries.

References

Aleks, R. (2015). Estimating the effect of “Change to Win” on union organizing. ILR Review, 68(3), 584-605.

Hessami, Z., & Baskaran, T. (2015). Has Globalisation Affected Collective Bargaining? An Empirical Test, 1980–2009. The World Economy, 38(12), 1880-1911.

Samnani, A. K., Boekhorst, J. A., & Harrison, J. A. (2016). Institutional‚Äźlevel bullying: Exploring workplace bullying during union organizing drives. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 89(2), 377-395.

Wood, A. J. (2015). Networks of injustice and worker mobilization at Walmart. Industrial Relations Journal, 46(4), 259-274.

Warren, D. (2015). Union Organizing In National Labor Relations Board Elections. Roosevelt Institute, October, 7.

February 14, 2023
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