Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Benefits of Unions

Last week I discussed unions in general, including what a union is and the the history of unions in the United States. I intend to make every effort to present both sides of the union debate, starting with why unions are good. What exactly are the benefits of being unionized - according to the unions? The benefits can be grouped into three general categories: how employees are treated, how employees are paid and how employees can be disciplined or fired. In regards to how employees are treated, unions promise employees will be treated with dignity and respect at all times unilaterally. Unions say that without their representation each employee is subject to negative treatment if he or she is not particularly liked by the management. Unions promise to fight for better working conditions for all employees.

How employees are paid is obviously a very important issue for all working men and women. After all, most of us work in order to earn a salary. Unions promise to negotiate employee contracts that will guarantee wages and benefits which are not arbitrary. All aspects of wages, raises and benefits are spelled out in the union contract, which is voted on by all the union members. All employees are paid the same, based on time on the job and job function. How a specific employee is viewed by management has no effect on that employees wages or raises. In fact, unions claim that unionized employees are paid significantly higher salaries than non-union employees for the same jobs and receive much higher benefits, including pension, health insurance and paid leave. It is easier for the unions to negotiate with the employer for a large group of employees that it would be for individual employees to negotiate for themselves.

Finally, unions promise that employees will not be subjected to continuously changing policies in the workplace, unfair disciplinary policies or unfair termination of their employment. Unions promise to fight for each employees rights, including establishing a formal grievance process in which the union will provide legal assistance whenever necessary. Unions create an environment where the employer is prohibited from changing policies without going through an approval process and where employers cannot discipline or terminate an employee without fulfilling the requirements of the established process for these types of actions.

You can find additional information regarding the benefits of unions at the following sites:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Introduction - What are unions?

In this blog I will be exploring unions. Everything about unions - what exactly is a union? What are the benefits of unions? What are the negatives about unions? I will examine the politics of unions, what groups usually support unions and which ones typically oppose unions. I know what my personal opinions are in regards to this subject, but I will try to present each side as evenly as possible. I also intend to discuss how unions effect businesses, especially locally in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas.

To begin I think it is important to understand what exactly a union is and a little history about unions. A union (also called labor union or trade union) is an organization of workers who have formed a group in order to achieve common goals. These goals can include employee wages, working conditions, practices for hiring, firing and promoting workers or employee benefits. It can be argued that unions can be found as early as the eighteenth century and have developed over time into the strong organizations they are today. In the beginning, unions were illegal; however, over time unions gained political support and laws were passed which not only legalized unions but also established rules for employers dealing with unions and unionized workers.

Unions and politics are very intertwined. Typically, democrats support unions and their efforts and republicans do not. In fact, President Obama and the democrats support unions and their efforts to pass a very controversial new law called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Whether or not this proposed law actually represents free choice for the employee is debatable. Those opposing the bill say that is will allow unions to exert even more pressure on employees in an effort to convince those employees to vote to join the union, taking away their free choice. This controversial bill will be explored further in a future blog.