- Was Jimmy Hoffa's 1975 kidnapping/disappearance caused by rival labor unions?60% say YES
- Should labor unions do more to fight for their future?75% say YES
- Are labor unions good for America?67% say YES
- Should we support the power of labor unions?80% say YES
- Are labor unions no longer useful?50% say NO
- Shouldn't every American be required to join a labor union?60% say NO
History and Debate of Labor Union
A trade union, or as it is sometimes called a labor union, is when a group of workers band together to achieve goals related to their job. Trade Unions are often in the news, especially when they are striking or picketing. However, many people do not know the history behind these organizations, what they do for members and the pros and cons of trade unions.
Trade unions originated in Europe during the industrial revolution. Because of the machinery that had become commonplace, skilled labor became less in demand so employers had nearly all of the bargaining power. Employers mistreated the workers and paid them too little for the work they did. Trade unions were organized that would help in the improvement of working conditions.
The concept of the trade union has evolved over the last one hundred years, but the underlying concept is the same. Union members want their employers to treat them with respect and pay them a fair wage. During the early and middle portions of the twentieth century, laborers were a major force in America and around the world. They have lost some of their influence in the past few decades, mainly because of financial struggles.
The largest union organization in the United States today is AFL-CIO, which has millions of members across the country. What do trade unions do for their members? It varies from union to union, and not every union will offer every type of benefit. Unemployment benefits and insurance are very common benefits and are useful to members in many industries. Collective bargaining and industrial action allow members to negotiate with their employers over wages and working conditions. A final activity that many unions participate in is supporting candidates or lobbying for laws to be passed or repealed.
Public Opinion – Labor Union Debate
With everything the media says about unions, one may wonder if they are good for our economy and business in the United States, or if they cause more harm than good. This is a very good question, and there is no simple answer. Unions can help workers in industries that are regularly underpaid or mistreated. With a union, workers do not have to worry that employers will drastically cut pay or lay off worker with no notice. But, with all of these benefits come some risk, and these risks are what cause criticism of unions by the media.
Unions take the power out of the employer's hands on many issues. There are examples of cases where workers were engaging in sexual or racial harassment, but were protected by their unions and allowed to keep their jobs. Poor workers and excellent workers often receive the same pay and raises, giving no reason for a person to work harder than necessary at their job. Unions can make workplace politics even more complicated. There are a lot of issues to consider when you look at unions. They will likely have a place in certain industries for quite some time; however, they will likely never reach the numbers and influence they held in the early part of the twentieth century.
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