The Importance of Unions

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The United States is a free market economy where private enterprises play a major role in economic affairs. Employers have the power to make investments and the power to hire and fire workers, however the relationship between management and employee have become such that many workplace issues are easily resolved without union intervention. Federal regulations now govern minimum wages, work hours, safety and health, discrimination and other issues. Unions have had a significant impact on the workplace in prior years through collective efforts of workers to have their needs addressed so that the widening gap between employer and employee would not lead to the exploitation of workers. Today, the influence of the unions and the labor movement are still there but not as prominent as its glorious years in prior decades. The influence of unions has declined due to several factors. Global economic forces have led to international trade and increased capital flows. Some products can be produced more cheaply say in China than in the United States. This mans that Americans can enjoy the benefits of cheaper toys and employers do not have to deal with labor that may prevent them from hiring cheaper labor in China. This increasing influx of prosperity in the manufacturing country leads to rising national prosperity which may or may not trickle down to these workers. Unions can only maintain their monopolistic power over society for their members if they participate in activities that are protected from competition. Union membership will always be affected by economic recessions that leave millions of people jobless. This is what is happening today. Traditional unionized industries such as airlines, construction and manufacturing have felt financial and employee losses due to the down turn of the economy. The employment security of employees at a company cannot be controlled through a union but is impacted by economic forces. In this light, many employees see the union as being unable to prevent company downsizing. With job losses in excess many workers who are part of a union are not willing to go out and strike. In previous instances where a strike would have been union’s weapon to force management to meet workers’ demands, many workers are keeping things low because they know that if they strike their labor can be easily replaced for cheaper and in a short period of time. Management opposition to unions has been reflected in their increasing development of human resources policies which provide similar employment benefits to both union and non union members. With industrialization many companies are now keeping up with technology by implementing policies that promote employee commitment to the organization. We definitely need unions today because history tends to repeat itself. In the past manufacturing, steel, coal and automotive industries were making large profits and very little if any were trickling down to workers. Manger just wanted workers to be happy with having a job, however if not for the strikes and pickets by unions we would not have livable benefits and good wages. We need unions to close the gap between the rich and the poor. The capitalist class has seen an increase in wealth and professions such as accounting, legal and financial have benefited from the surge of income due to globalization. For other workers wages have been suppressed in spite of poor working conditions, high unemployment and demands for increased production in the face of the war. As an old cliché goes, there is strength in numbers and a union allows workers o collectively come together to have their voices heard. Power and greed will always dwell in people’s minds no matter how much wealth they come into it will never be enough. Wage workers make more when they are represented by a union: In 2006, the union difference was $833 a week for workers in unions compared with $642 a week for nonunion workers. (Parks, 2007) Unions are needed now and will...
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