Labor Unions and Relevance

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Labor Unions and Relevance
In the United States, labor unions are seeing an increased amount of controversy surrounding their helpfulness to the U.S. economy. Recently, comparisons between the successes of a company such as Toyota versus Ford have brought the issue of unions to the forefront. Many cite the cost Ford has due to the fact that the employees are unionized and receive more benefits at a higher cost to the company. On the other hand, many people see great benefit for Americans who are protected under a union contract; however, it is possible to create a work environment that is successful, safe, fair, and beneficial to employees without being a union shop. In 1953, approximately half of the workers in the United States were protected by a labor union. Today, only 12% of American workers are members of a union (Farmer, 2006). A union is an organized group of people that bargain their work conditions as a team. Some of the most well-known unions in the local area include United Food and Commercial Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Teamsters. Unions have a serious impact on organizations whose workforce is protected under a collective bargaining agreement. Everything from wages to benefits and incentives are affected by a union contract. Policies and other items that can change an organization's culture can also be guided by a union's demands. A union's basic goals are to help their members earn higher wages, receive the best benefits possible and protect against unfair treatment and job termination. At this writer's workplace, the employees are protected under a collective bargaining agreement. Everything from vacation and sick leave, pension plans, pay scales, and the time that checks are handed out on payday is detailed within the contract. The contract is renewed every three years. The contract also has a "no-strike" clause that states that employees cannot strike, even if the contract is failing to reach agreement....
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