Why We Need Unions

Topics: Employment, Trade union, Minimum wage Pages: 6 (2346 words) Published: April 14, 2013
17 May 2011
Why We Still Need Unions
Labor unions have been around since the late 1700’s, but they were not always recognized as unions. Originally they were just a group of people banded together to get their voices heard. The strengthening of the carpenters, and other trades people, made an appearance in America in the 1866s found on aflcio.org labor history time line (“labor”). During this time, workers came together to reduce the working day and fight for safer working conditions. As the years continued so did the unions. They fought for workers rights, not only shorter work days and better working conditions, but they also fought for fair wages, days off, paid vacations, unemployment, and workman’s compensation. All the great benefits we have in our work places today, that we take for granted. Most people do not remember or even know what the unions have done for us. A union has unlimited benefits but the main benefit is a union will fight for the needs of an employee, reduce unemployment and give a worker benefits he otherwise would have to pay for. The unions have given the common worker a voice in the work place, helped keep the middle class from being eliminated, increase productivity in companies, and so much more. How can there be so many anti-union groups of people, when the union does so much good for the everyday America?

Countries with stronger union relationships show increases in production and decreases in unemployment compared to the state side industries. The union’s skilled workers and demand for rightful pay keeps this country from becoming a country of rich and poor. It also prevents the squeezing out of the middle class. Unionized companies keep management and shareholders from being overpaid while the people that break their backs get almost nothing. In the United States on average a CEO makes 17.5 times the amount of the everyday hard working American who works full time. On average, Japan’s CEO’s only makes 11.6 times more then their common workers, and Germany’s CEO’s only make 6.5 times as much as their common workers, findings from The United States Department of Labor’s, (BLS) Bureau of Labor Statistics (“International”). What companies in the U.S. have done to keep their money in their pockets is hire illegal immigrants at obscenely low pay scales. As a previous union carpenter, I saw this happen with the brick layers nonunion workers. I worked with these nonunion workers and they told me they were doing the same intensive work as I was for nine dollars a hour, I was making almost four times that. Mark Erlich, a representative of the carpenter union for 35 years, sent out an organizer to survey nonunion construction. He soon returned to the representatives and reported, he could not complete the task asked of him. When asked why Erlich reported that he could not communicate with the nonunion workers because they could not speak in English. Erlich claims, that this result is why more people are losing their jobs and the union is deteriorating (69). One argument may be that the CEO’s should make much more then the subordinate that work for them, they are the brains of the operation and the ones that created the job for these chess pawns. Another dispute might be that union workers make a much higher pay scale, than that of a nonunionized worker, or in my case four times the amount. This comes back to the skill a unionized worker can provide. Also with greater the pay the more incentive an employee has to work hard increasing productivity. For example a union will pay a worker 500 dollars to move a mound of dirt from one corner of a room to the other corner of the room, and when the worker finishes the first there are other rooms with dirt mounds in them that also need to be moved. The worker will be paid the same amount to do those too. Now consider if the offer was only 100 dollars of backbreaking work to move the same mounds, whom would work harder to keep this job. Many...

Cited: FreedomWorks, 04 Mar. 2011. Web. 05 Apr. 2011.
Dray, Philip. There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America. New York:
Doubleday, 2010
ERLICH, MARK. "Holding the Union Together When the Economy Is Coming Apart." Dissent
58.1 (2011): 66-71
Klein, Ezra. "Do We Still Need Unions? Yes." Newsweek 7 Mar. 2011: 18. Expanded Academic
Miller, George. "Employee Free Choice." The Nation 282.5 6 Mar. 2006: 17. Academic Search
Richards, Lawrence. Union-free America: Workers and Antiunion Culture. Urbana: University
of Illinois, 2008
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