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Labor Relations

Essay by   •  July 18, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,089 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,264 Views

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Unions are defined as organizations formed for the purpose of representing their members' interests in dealing with employer conflicts in such areas of wages, hours, and work conditions within a specific industry or trade. Unions were originally made up of male, blue-collar workers, but as the economy evolved from production to service industry, membership has seen a large increase in white-collar and female workers (Business Dictionary, 2007).

The evolution of unions began in the 1700s and 1800s where skilled workers were the first to organize and form unions due to the necessity for safety and security of workers. During this time, workers formed labor unions to improve their situation as a direct response to intolerable working conditions, low wages, and very long hours. Employees realized by banding together and bargaining as a group they were able to place pressure on employers to respond to their demands (Business Dictionary, 2007).

As the various degrees of conflict grew between employees and management, unions grew, thus making their role in collective bargaining within organizations more prominent. This provided a way to manage conflict through systems for hearing complaints raised and negotiating labor contracts (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhert, Wright, 2003). Modern day labor unions in the U.S. are legally recognized representatives of workers in numerous industries, but are stronger among public sector employment. With unionization more widespread, knowing how to manage the relationships, rather interactions, between employee and management is a key factor; thus the development of the specialty of labor relations (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhert, Wright, 2003).

To minimize costly forms of conflicts, such as strikes, labor relations emphasized skills that fostered effective labor-management cooperation in seeking a win-win solution to disagreements (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhert, Wright, 2003).

The principal aim of all strikes is to achieve total suspension of work within an employer's establishment. The most widely used method of striking is to picket. This is where a group of workers station themselves near an entrance of a business for which they are striking against, and prevent or persuade persons from entering the company for purposes of working or doing business with the company. Unlike union membership within businesses, membership within government prohibits striking; and is illegal for federal and state workers.

ImpactsUnions have a substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers. Impacts such as lowered quit rates, seniority-based rewards, improved production standards, which places more accountability on management, and increased employer-employee communication.

Who is first in line for a vacant job? What are the tenure rights of an employee in his or her job? Under what conditions may he or she be transferred, demoted, laid off, or discharged? Additionally, working conditions and work methods are regulated partly through contract rules and the grievance procedure; the process through which an employee can bring workplace concerns to upper levels of management with representation of a union appointed representative on the employee's behalf to ensure rules are strictly followed. Unions also increase wages for its members who are generally older; more experienced, and are more likely to work in public services and large firms than non-union workers. These are all varying degrees of impact from unionization (Reynolds, 1974).

The labor movement has been the central part of the wider, social-democratic movement in making societies more democratic, both inside and outside

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