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Labor and Union Studies in Washington and Oregon States
The United States labor movement has its roots in the complex trappings of the industrial revolution. Laborers were just starting to come to the United States from foreign countries because they had learned that there were many jobs available for even the most unskilled worker. People were also moving from rural areas in America to the cities in an attempt ti have a better life also without the uncertainties that governed farm profits. The growth in many industries was a result of new technologies that allowed people to purchase items that had previously been made by hand far cheaper because the products could now be mass produced in the factories. The problem was that the owners of these factories did not care how the workers were treated because there were many more begging to have a low-paying job in a factory filled with dangerous machinery and unsafe working conditions. This led people who were not afraid of the thugs the owners hired to organize into unions that could change the working conditions for the better, and collectively demand higher pay for the dangerous jobs that the people did.
Some of the most difficult conditions existed in the canneries of the Pacific Northwest. All along the coasts of Washington and Oregon, canneries were built that could handle the amount of fish and produce that were daily brought to their doors. People were forced to work long hours cleaning and processing the different products for low pay. This led to union organization for the people who worked in the factories, but there were other industries that required some changes also. The migrant workers who gathered in the crops were paid a wage that could barely sustain them, and children worked long hours in the fields. Longshoreman unloaded a large variety of cargo at the various docks up and down the coast, but they were faced with very dangerous conditions and pay that could not support their families.
The labor environment in the Pacific Northwest has changed in the last few decades with the advent of high tech and premium products, and the workers are well cared for largely due to the efforts of labor organizations. Some of the best run and most profitable companies in the world now occupy the shores of Washington state and Oregon, but the dock workers still have their union protecting them. This essay looks at the internal and external work environment that has influenced the productivity of labor in both the public and the private sector of the west coast economy in Washington - Oregon State.
Purpose of the Research
This is a research paper that seeks to examine the relationship between the work environment and worker productivity. The work environment itself can be defined in many ways. A person lives in a certain environment, and they are either satisfied with it and that enhances their general productivity or they have problems that affect how they complete their job. This includes factors such as family life, how good or bad their commute from work is, and whether the individual is satisfied with the region that they live in. Many researchers have looked into the factors that affect a person's personal environment and how that either aids or detracts from their productivity. Those factors will be examined.
However, study's on work environment have also examined the more micro world of the job itself. The station a worker conducts their daily activities at has to be comfortable whether it is a cubicle, dock or has the worker standing at a lathe machining parts. The air temperature is important to comfort and can greatly affect whether a worker is satisfies and thus works harder or is uncomfortable and has lower production. At this point all of this is speculation. The point is that many factors affect how a person completes the work that they are assigned to, and an employer wants to maximize productivity. This benefits both the worker and the employer because they both make more money the more productively engaged the worker is.
Part of the equation is also how satisfied the employee is with the reward they are receiving for their work. Rewards such as pay and benefits (actually these are better qualified as just compensation) can determine how well a person will perform their job. How big a factor is job satisfaction in productivity? Does research demonstrate a positive correlation between satisfying work environment and productivity? There are many variables involved in how an employer can best aid their employees in completing the tasks assigned to them with the maximum possible productivity, and these will all be examined. Also, one needs to look at whether labor unions play a part in productivity, and, if they do, what industries are currently best served by these unions? Would more workers benefit if labor unions came to their aid as a representative body between them and their employer? These are all intriguing questions that research and analysis are capable of answering, at least in part.
Factors Affecting Productivity
This section is designed to look at several of the different variables that affect productivity, but it is mainly a discussion of how work environment fits into the equation. As discussed above, Work environment can encompass everything from family life to how the employee feels about the elements around when they are doing their job. However these are not the only factors affecting how well an employee will produce.
When a person takes a job, one of the first things they want to know is how much they are going to be paid. The potential employee may not make this a critical element of their decision whether to take the job or not, but it is usually a significant factor. On the job, compensation can either be a large detractor, or it can work to an employee's benefit. Employees who do not have to worry about their pay and are satisfied with the amount, will be more likely to work at maximum productivity.
The employee also likes to now that they are a part of team that is doing something worthwhile. It does not matter if the person is a checker at the local grocery store, or an executive for the largest company in the world, productivity demands that the individual know that they are an integral part of something larger. Basically the person needs to have intrinsic (emotional) as well as extrinsic (external factors such as pay) factors met. It does not matter what that intrinsic factor is as long as the employee feels that it is being fulfilled.
Nothing frustrates a worker faster than not having the right tools to complete their job. Having the correct tools is as necessary, sometimes, as any other factor. It really does not matter what those tools are either; they can also be intrinsic or extrinsic. Training gives an employee many of the tools that they need to do their job, and an employer who is not able to provide adequate training along with those tools is likely going to have a disgruntled shop. Research indicates that the number one cause of dissatisfaction is people who are given a task for which they are not trained (). This also means that the physical tools that they are given must be as up-to-date as possible. Even though it may seem like a new computer system costs a lot of money, those are up-front costs that can be recouped from the increased productivity that they provide.
The final two factors both have to do with work environment, and they will be taken separately. The environment internal to the company is important because it gives the employee the ability to do their work without distractions. However, that external environment is just as important. An employee who is unhappy at home will most likely be just as unhappy at work which cuts into their productivity.
At work, this has to do with the place the person works, who works around them and the environmental conditions of the surrounding workspace. It would seem at first glance that this means the comfort of the individual is paramount, but research proves that this is not necessarily true. Sometimes conditions have been so bad before that the person will work very productively if they conditions are adjusted just slightly (Paris). It can also happen that advances in safety make the environment a better workplace, but the comfort level, as far as creature comforts, remains relatively stable (Taiwo). However, it can be the case that simply changing the person that one works beside can change the way that they do their job.
This does not mean that the other worker is necessarily a bad employee, but especially with firms that employ teams as a necessary core of the way they conduct business, it essential to have people who can work together effectively (Lajeunesse). For a team to remain productive there actually needs to…[continue]
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