Are Labor Unions in the U.S. Obsolete?
To understand the worth of today’s unions, we must first understand the history and purpose of these organizations. Simply put, a union is an organization of employees formed to bargain with the employer. There are many types of unions. For instance, a craft union is one whose members do one type of work, often using specialized skills and training. An industrial union is one that includes many persons working in the same industry or company, regardless of jobs held. A federation is a group of autonomous national and international unions (Mathis 529). The main purpose of all these organizations is to secure benefits and rights in the workplace. The history of unions in the United States dates back before the civil war, but has matured within the last 120 years. Many early unions were premature and short-lived, such as the National Labor Union, which was the first federation of U.S. unions. In the past, some unions used violence to promote the cause of unskilled labors such as the Industrial Workers of the World. In today’s society, labor unions are generally more civil and use strikes and other peaceful demonstrations to negotiate with employers. However, today’s union numbers are steadily declining and workers seem less interested in joining. While labor unions in the past have proved to be an effective way to bargain with employers and maintain employee satisfaction, today’s unions seem to be challenged by a number of different sources. These challenges aid in the decay of unions and the leverage they once had. This is why, in today’s world, U.S. unions are undeniably obsolete. So what are these challenges that face U.S. unions? The declining union representation largely results from factors external to the labor movement itself. Some of these aspects include changes in economic structure that favor nonunion over union employment, a declining intensity of union organizing, a diminution in workers’ interest...
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