Labor and Union Studies Define essay

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All of the employees on an airplane, for example, could form themselves into a vertical bargaining unit if they chose, the unit including stewards and stewardesses, as well as pilots. Similarly, in a school, teachers, janitors, and office staff could all form a vertical unit. In contrast a horizontal bargaining unit unites all those who perform similar work. The fact that the pilots at Spirit Airlines belong to a pilots union that includes pilots from other airlines means that they constitute a horizontal bargaining unit. As well, teachers in the Chico school could form a horizontal bargaining unit if they joined with other teachers at different schools, and even in different districts. Members of a bargaining unit agree to work together because they share common interests and goals. Bargaining units appear either as elements of unions or as workers uniting for a common purpose. An entire union is also frequently a bargaining unit, as are the various locals that represent specific subgroups. Members of a unit will elect persons to speak for them, and in the case of unions, specific officers to plead their cause, and watch over their interests. Slate's recent article on the federal proposal to eliminate the secret ballot for workers forming unions, discusses the pros and cons of removing anonymity from the process of creating potential bargaining units (Beam, 10 March 2009). According to the Slate article, from the point-of-view of business, much of the argument hinges on the larger issue of whether the elimination of secret ballots for union formation affects the idea of secret ballots in general. Secret ballots are considered a centerpiece of American democracy, as they permit individuals to exercise their right of choice free of coercion. Unions prefer a process called card check, in which employees simply check a card showing their preference for unionization. Labor organizers say this method prevents excessive employer intimidation and permits more rapid organization of bargaining units . The faster these units are organized, the quicker bargaining units can get down to the business of settling grievances (Beam, 10 March 2009). From a business perspective, it can also be argued that by accepting the fait accompli of unions, the companies will be better able to enlist the support of unions in their own economic ends, including the pursuing of legislative agendas designed to maximize profits (Gely and Chandler).

5. List three examples of unfair labor practices. Include and discuss [showing relevance or applicability] two current web-based news item/magazine articles, each pertaining to at least one of the three examples of unfair labor practices you've cited. Write a succinct and complete summary on the contents of each of the articles you've provided along with your critical comments about each article. Support your findings with referenced research.

Unfair labor practices can include almost any breach of law or contractual agreement that relates to work and the workplace. Statute requires the payment of a specific minimum wage that is mandatory for all workers in the United States. Payments beneath this amount -- or certain other specifically stipulated amounts -- are one notable example of unfair labor practice. Another would include the employment of underage workers in various classifications of employment. Still another form of unfair labor practice encompasses not permitting workers to take family leave in accordance with applicable laws. The minimum wage laws are among the most frequently flouted of labor regulations. An article on the site Progressive States Network, discusses the signing by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson of a law that permits underpaid workers to collect their back wages plus twice that amount as a penalty. The idea is to force employers to comply with minimum wage laws ("New Mexico Enacts Wage Law Enforcement, Progressive States Network, 9 April 2009). The piece continues with examples that reveal the New Mexico law to be the latest example in a series of enactments by various states to enforce fair labor standards. The State of California created a Public Work Fund and appropriated monies to that fund specifically for the purpose of guaranteeing the minimum wage in such state projects ("New Mexico Enacts Wage Law Enforcement, Progressive States Network, 9 April 2009). Maryland and North Carolina passed similar measures enforcing the prevailing wage, while Rhode Island banned the misclassification of employees as private contractors -- another attempt to avoid payment of appropriate wages and benefits ("New Mexico Enacts Wage Law Enforcement, Progressive States Network, 9 April 2009). Iowa focused its wage measures specifically on the problem of child labor, dramatically increasing penalties ("New Mexico Enacts Wage Law Enforcement, Progressive States Network, 9 April 2009). In a similar vein, an article on the same site focuses on minimum wage enforcement as a means of controlling unlawful immigration. Industries with large numbers of undocumented workers, garment manufacturers and nursing homes, for example, are notorious for paying unlawfully low wages to the many undocumented workers they employ. ("Promoting Wage Enforcement Laws, Progressive States Network, 22 September 2008). The Progressive States Network is working with legislators and other immigration reform groups to see that minimum wage laws are enforced to prevent these workers from being abused ("Promoting Wage Enforcement Laws, Progressive States Network, 22 September 2008). As stated in the article, only a minority of underpaid workers are actually undocumented. Measures designed to enforce the law help all workers ("Promoting Wage Enforcement Laws, Progressive States Network, 22 September 2008). The campaign to ensure enforcement of minimum wage laws thus represents an attempt to guarantee the fair treatment of all people living and working within the United States.

6. Describe the role and function of an arbitrator. Include and discuss a current web-based news item/magazine article about an arbitrator or a labor relations-related arbitration action. Write a succinct and complete summary on the contents of the article you've provided along with your critical comments about that article. Support your findings with referenced research.

An arbitrator is an individual employed as the neutral mediator between two parties. In the case of a labor arbitrator, it is she or he makes the final decision in any dispute between labor and management. Binding arbitration means that both parties are legally bound -- within the limits of the law -- by the decision of the arbitrator. Contract disputes do not need to be put to an arbitrator, but such mediation is often necessary when the two sides cannot come to an agreement. The process is similar to having a referee, with arbitrator also using her expertise to and knowledge of events to settle the issues at hand. In the case of the pilots at Spirit Airlines, an arbitration panel rendered the final decision in the pilots' case against the company. Though the choice to employ arbitration was voluntary in this case, there are those who look forward to the use of mandatory arbitration in matter so of labor disputes. An article in the Washington Times, makes reference to the use of arbitration by the Department of Labor in cases where disputes cannot be resolved. The Department of Labor will select the arbitration panel and also draft detailed contracts and appendices on documents that may run as long as one thousand pages or more (Epstein, 24 March 2009), thus effectively setting labor policy at the level of individual companies. The proposals for mandatory government arbitration are being offered in place of the possible failure of the Free Choice Act, or card check rule of union organization. The article further states that such a form of detailed, or "interest arbitration," has never actually been used before, and that the process would amount to uniformed bureaucrats writing commercial policy (Epstein, 24 March 2009). Further government organizations have little to no knowledge of procedures used by various industries, let alone procedures followed by different companies within the same field. They do not manufacture components, nor do they need to make decisions about mergers (Epstein, 24 March 2009). In short, Epstein faults the additional fallback proposals of the Employee Freedom of Choice Act for extending too far and imposing controls that are too inflexible. It is an argument against excessive government interference and of permitting employers and employees to deal with what they know best and settle matters themselves.

7. Outline the process of administering a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). What are the issues, and how are they handled? Include and discuss [showing relevance or applicability] a current web-based news item/magazine article about a CBA being implemented. Write a succinct and complete summary on the contents of the article you've provided along with your critical comments about that article. Support your findings with referenced research.

Collective bargaining agreements are administered by all parties involved in the final decision. Ideally, management and labor agree to abide by their sides of the deal. If need be the arbitration panel, or even a court, may issue orders to guarantee enforcement. Points of contention will be specifically named in the decision of the arbitrators…[continue]

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