labor unions on compensation and benefits, issues and challenges, and future trends and outlook. This study will also be geared towards developing important insights on how these organizations are formed and how they work. The need for such information is to gain experiences on how the work conducted by union members has provided personal benefits in one way or another. Some of the major issues that will be examined in the study include why unions are formed and why they are necessary in the modern working environment. Discussions on how unions have a made a difference will be provided based on research and findings. As an argumentative research paper, the author will examine whether unions are crucial promoters and protectors of workplace benefits or they are an outdated impediment to progress.
Labor unions are organizations of workers that are established to advance the interests of their members in light of working conditions, wages, and benefits. Since the origin of these organizations, labor unions have played a crucial role in the workplace, particularly in influencing management decisions on employees' wages, benefits, and working conditions. Generally, these unions have provided many Americans the platform to develop from poverty and poor living conditions to live as middle-class citizens towards the realization of the American dream. Consequently, labor unions in the United States have accurately been regarded as a stabilizing force in the country's economy (Williams, 2012, p.9). These organizations have made considerable gains that have brought direct and indirect benefits to the entire public.
Despite the significant role played by these organizations in improving workplace benefits, unionization rate has been on a steady downward trajectory since early 1960s. The steady decline in unionization rate is attributed to various factors such as structural changes to the workforce and economy and globalization or technological advancements. In some cases, this decline is associated with the shift from a manufacturing economy to a post-industrial one, which makes unions irrelevant. The shift to such an economy means that there are less male, blue-collar and less-educated employees and increase in female, white-collar and more-educated employees. These trends have contributed to a greater emphasis that the changing workforce does not need unions and therefore less desire for unionization.
However, there is growing evidence that labor unions are still relevant in today's workforce as they were in the industrial era. Arguments that support the decline in unionization rate have no explanatory power, especially with regards to the desire for unionization. In essence, there is no reason to demonstrate that white-collar and service employees are naturally adamant to collective bargaining and unionization. Therefore, employees in the modern workforce have a great interest in unionizing as compared to past decades. In the past few years, the composition of the unionized workplace has changed to reflect the changes in the composition of the workforce.
Assumptions or Hypothesis:
This research is based on the assumption that labor unions are still relevant in today's working environment despite of the existence of contradictory arguments are reasons. Actually, this argumentative study is based on the premise that modern employees need unions more than those in the industrial era when these organizations originated. The hypothesis in the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of labor unions to the extent with which wages, benefits, and employment objectives are satisfied. This process would provide an accurate evaluation of whether these organizations are promoters and protectors or workplace benefits or outdated impediment to progress.
Discussion of Findings:
The origin of labor unions can be traced back to the 18th Century and during the era of industrial revolution in Europe, which were characterized by an increase in the entrance of new workers into the workforce that required representation ("The History of Labor Unions," n.d.). These organizations and early workers played a crucial role in the independence and development of the United States. While the physical initiatives of trade unions towards the cause of independence were ineffective, they generated concepts that soon became part of the American culture such as protection of employees.
Even though these unions started in the 18th Century, they exploded in the 19th Century as important facets in establishing the rights of workers and promoting and protecting workplace benefits. One of the most significant initiatives towards promoting the establishment of labor unions was the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. This legislation acted as a major turning point in the history of labor in the United States (Domhoff, 2013). The Act was meant to provide governmental support to workers' rights to organize unions and use collective bargaining with their employers regarding working conditions, wages, and benefits. Since then, labor unions have grown to become important elements in the modern working environment in relation to employees' rights and benefits. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistic reported that union membership in the United States has exceeded 14 million and grown to more than 37% in the public sector.
Based on this history, the formation of labor unions is primarily for the purpose of promoting and supporting the rights of workers in relation to working conditions, wages, and benefits. In the early years, many trade unions were established to gain workers shorter workdays and higher wages and disbanded after they accomplished their goals. As the changes in the workplace have contributed to the increase in the number of workers, there has been an increased need to protect workers from being mistreated by their employers (Murray, n.d.). Consequently, trade unions are formed to help in enforcing workers' rights in the workplace through protecting them from any kind of mistreatment from their employers. However, in the past few years, these unions have primarily focused on addressing issues of employees' working conditions, wages, and benefits.
While there has been a significant decline in the rate of unionization in the recent past, these organizations are still necessary in the modern working environment. One of the main reasons for the need of unions in today's workplace is that they still serve the same purpose for which they were initially founded ("Labor Unions Today," n.d.). Trade unions are still necessity because of the increase in CEO and executive compensation, increased layoffs among middle class workers, increased unemployment, and stagnant wages and benefits. Similar to the 18th and 19th centuries, unions are necessary because workers still need fair treatment, particularly because many corporations are increasingly focusing on generating profits at the expense of workers. However, the agendas of these trade unions should include increasing wages, improving the standard of living, increase benefits for workers and their families, and establishing safe working conditions. Vowell (2013), state that the future of the United States as a country and developed economy would be strengthened by stronger trade unions.
The necessity and significance of trade unions is demonstrated in the way they have influenced the lifestyle and work of Americans. According to Godard & Frege (2013), labor unions have influenced American life and work by contributing to improved wages and benefits in the workplace and promoting and protecting the rights of employees (p.142). These unions have achieved these goals by providing protections attributed to the exercise of authority and resulting in the ultimate realization of democratic values at work. Therefore, these organizations have changed American lifestyle and work by acting as the primary means through which workers can collectively realize democratic rights and protections related to employment. These achievements are realized in various forms including concrete freedom in the workplace, industrial jurisprudence, and joint voice in the establishment of working terms and conditions. These democratic rights and protections have transformed American life and work by ultimately leading to improved dignity, security, justice, and fairness. While they do not significantly change the basic employment structure, labor unions have altered the exercise of management authority and brought a sense of democracy in the working environment.
The conditions in the modern workplace and laws that have been enacted to promote the welfare of employees can be attributed to the considerable gains made by labor unions in the past. Some of these positive gains include alternative forms of representation in today's workplace, increase in substantive regulation over the past five decades, and considerable improvements in legitimate employment rights (Godard & Frege, 2013, p.145).
It is quite evident that labor unions were and are still very important organizations in the workplace despite of the changing nature of today's workforce as compared to the era when these unions were originally founded. However, there are still numerous concerns regarding the relevance of these unions in the modern working environment. Some groups of workers, policy makers, and employers argue and believe that trade unions are an outdated impediment to progress that are irrelevant in today's workplace. On the contrary, there are others who believe that these organizations are crucial protectors and promoters of workplace benefits that are important in today's workplace in relation to protection of workers' rights.
The opponents of the use of labor unions for collective bargaining in today's workplace argue that…