Union Management and Organization
Labor Relations 405
November 3, 2012
Union Management and Organization
In the 1950’s the typical employee in America was a white male with no more than a high school degree. One out of three women was part of the civilian labor force and minorities made up only ten percent of the workforce. Most of the employees were blue-collar workers. The typical occupations were manufacturing, construction, mining, and unskilled labor positions. There were only twelve percent of employees working in the service sector of the workforce and professional employees made up another 18 percent of in the mid-point of the twentieth century.
During the 1950’s there was subject to very little government regulations. Absent union representation employers were free to hire and fire employees at their sole discretion. Employers were able to set the terms and conditions of employment subject only to the minimum imposed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA in 1938 required employers to pay covered employees the equivalent of the mandated minimum hourly wage plus overtime compensation at one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for time worked in excess of forty hours per week. This Act is still required today.
An example of lack of legal regulation is when the Armed Forces following the conclusion of the Second World War, increased from 800,000 men to nine million during the war. This created a shortage in the civilian workforce which then women started to gain employment. As the GI’s returned after the war; employers terminated the women and replaced them with the men who came back. Employer preference was perfectly lawful in the 1950’s. Civil Rights statues prohibiting the discrimination treatment of women and minorities in employment did not yet exist. The existence of the employment relationship was almost entirely a matter of employer discretion, not government regulation.
In the 1950’s the workforce and landscape employment regulation could be divided op into two sectors. The largest was the at-will sector, in which the employers passed the legal authority to determine unilaterally the existence and terms of the employment relationship. Then there was the smaller but quite significant, unionized sector, in which employers and unions bilaterally set terms and conditions of employment.
Employment law did not exist in the 1950’s. The controlling law of the workplace at the time was either labor law or the at-will regime, which was not law at all. More than two-thirds of American employees fell into the regulation-free category in the 1950’s. The employment-at-will doctrine is premised on a theoretical equality of rights where both employers have the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason.
There were significant legal frameworks governing the at-will sector in 1950. First, employees possessed virtually unfettered discretion over both the existence and terms of the employment relationship. Second, beyond the basic at-will principal itself, this sector was essentially free of any governmental regulation.
The union members accounted for 31.5 percent of the American nonagricultural workforce in 1950. This percentage increased 34.7 percent in 1954. The union movement was extremely strong during this period that Congress, by adopting the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, significantly amended the NLRA. The vast majority of the unionized employees are subject to two sources of legal regulation. One source, in the form of a federal statute, is the NLRA. The other is in the form of contractual rules flowing from privately negotiated collective bargaining agreements.
Accordingly, the unionized sector was and remains characterized by four important attributes. First, while the unionized sector was subject to greater governmental regulation than the at-will sector, this regulation still has largely been only indirect and procedural...
References: Azria, S. M. (2008). Labor Legislation & Unions. Labor Legislation & Unions -- Research Starters Business, 1.
Befort, S. F. (2003). Revisiting the Black Hole of Workplace Regulation: A Historical and Comparative Perspective of Contingent Work. Berkeley Journal Of Employment & Labor Law, 24(1), 153.
FERGUSON, J. (2008). THE EYES OF THE NEEDLES: A SEQUENTIAL MODEL OF UNION ORGANIZING DRIVES, 1999--2004. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 62(1), 3-21.
Gely, R., & Chandler, T. D. (2008). CARD CHECK RECOGNITION: NEW HOUSE RULES FOR UNION ORGANIZING?. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 35(2), 247-276.
Lam, H., & Harcourt, M. (2007). A New Approach to Resolving the Right-to-work Ethical Dilemma. Journal Of Business Ethics, 73(3), 231-243. doi:10.1007/s10551-006-9203-5
Reid Jr., J. D., & Faith, R. L. (1987). Right-to-Work and Union Compensation Structure. Journal Of Labor Research, 8(2), 111-130.
Society for Human Resource Management (06/2012). Union Decertification & Deauthorization: What is the process to decertify a union?
Please join StudyMode to read the full document