Labor Relations What Do You Believe Are Essay

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Labor Relations

What do you believe are the benefits to being an employee of a company vs. A contractor? Which would you prefer to be? Why?

The benefits of being an employee include the right to self-organization, to bargain collectively, or form a labor organization (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). Employees have pre-determined work days and duties under the leadership and direction of the employer and are not required to incur costs or make investments in the work they produce. Typically, only general education and experience is required, with some employers paying for additional training and specializations. All income, Social Security and Medicare taxes that fall under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) are handled by the employer (Strawson, 2003) For most employees, there are also employer contributions made to pensions and other retirement plans, health and disability insurance for self and family members, and unemployment compensation after a lay off or termination. Worker's compensation is available in the event of a workplace injury and employees have the protection of workplace safety and anti-discrimination laws. There are also federal and state wage and hour laws.

An independent contractor sells professional services to the highest bidder. He or she has the flexibility to set his or her own hours and schedule and work independently for as many clients or companies as desired. The independent contractor can determine how to approach projects and has typically acquired very specialized skills, education or experience in an area (Strawson, 2003). All costs associated with performing the job are paid out of pocket, although independent contractors are generally entitled to deduct all reasonable business expenses from their reportable annual income. Working as an independent contractor requires paying self-employment taxes and being diligent with retirement planning and saving for emergencies or times of slow business. Unlike an employee, there are no set provisions for health insurances, workers or unemployment compensation, or overtime. The independent contractor is not protected by workplace safety and employment anti-discrimination laws and is not entitled to join or form a union.

In a tough economy and with soaring healthcare costs, I prefer the idea of being a benefits-eligible employee with protections under the law. As I continue in my career, I might be open to the flexibility of working as an independent contractor or consultant. The creative freedom and autonomy seem appealing, but only after achieving the experience and specialized skills necessary to build a solid client base. That would be critical to establishing a steady income and successful business.


Carrell, M.R., & Heavrin, C. (2007). Labor relations and collective bargaining: Cases, practice, and law (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Strawson, A. (2003). Employee or independent contractor? CMA Management, 77(6), 45.

2. Compare and contrast the factors that might contribute to employee's voting to decertify a union.

Unions only truly benefit workers when they are able to protect the wages of their members. When jobs become scarce, union workers are more appreciative of the employment protection clauses of collective bargaining agreements. Unions typically decertify when, for the individual members, the cost of membership is greater than its benefits. This is especially seen during times of recession, when unions are unable to protect employment security and members experience long layoffs (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). Other factors that might contribute to a decertification are unionized employers developing working environments where employees question the need for continued union representation (Lewis, 1986). In addition, discontentment over two-tier wage settlements may play a role. Newly-hired, lower paid workers sometimes resent being placed in a second-class status. They may blame their union for a poor settlement.

Failures in leadership, high dues, or lack of initiative on the part of union leaders may be other reasons worker's vote to decertify. Aggressive antiunion campaigns or a move to a traditionally nonunion geographic area can also lead to a decertification. (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). If individual members of the union are finding they are still subject to adverse job actions, harassment by management or workplace discrimination they will be much less likely to support a union (Lewis, 1986). In addition, younger generations tend to view unions as outdated with aging leaders (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007). Unions today appear to have a declining public image.


Carrell, M.R., & Heavrin, C. (2007). Labor relations and collective bargaining: Cases, practice, and law (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Jarrett, B. (2011). Decertification gives leverage, carries risk. USA Today.

Lewis, R. (1986). Union Decertification: A New Look at Management's Role. Labor Law Journal, 37(2), 115-122.

3. Do you believe employee elections regulated by the NLRB are successful? Why or why not? Please explain your answer.

The National Labor Relations Act allows employees to decertify their union through a National Labor Relations Board conducted election that requires a petition signed by 30% of union members and an election with a majority vote to decertify. These are not always successful because a union may file an unfair labor charge against an employer where it is unsure it can win an election. These types of blocking charges delay the processing of the final petition in the hope that, in time, the union can reestablish its strength and win a majority vote. Another questionable issue has been the unnecessary and lengthy election process. When an election is contested, workers have waited an average of 124 days. Some elections have been delayed for more than a decade (Schmidt, 2011).

The National Labor Relations Board recently decided that the time leading up to union elections should be dramatically shortened. The period before elections has been reduced from a median time of 37 days to as little as ten days from the filing of an election petition. In addition, pre-election hearings are now set for 7 days after the petition is filed and require the employer to respond within this period to a pre-hearing questionnaire raising any legal issues or waive his right to do so (National Labor Relations Board [NLRB], 2011). These changes support unions because employers have so little time to respond. Other efforts to improve the effectiveness of the election process include allowing e-mail and other forms of electronic communication among the parties, faster submission of voter eligibility lists, and a single, post-election appeals process.


NLRB Okays 'Quickie' Union Elections. (2011). Human Events, 67(23), 4.

Schmidt, K. (2011) NLRB Election Procedure Broken. USA Today Magazine, 140(2795), 13-14.

4. Discuss the difference between an employer's support of and domination of a union.

Employees have the right to bargain collectively with their employer and freely choose a bargaining agent. Supportive employers do not interfere with the selection of a bargaining agent. They also do not resort to intimidation, harassment, coercion or the firing of employees for exercising their right to form unions. Support or assistance can be negative or positive, however. For example, an employer can give aid to one of two competing unions which violates support and assistance provisions (Carrell & Heavrin, 2007).

Employers can exert unfair domination over a union by means of control or all out union avoidance. This may include undermining the right to participate by intimidating or terminating union organizers and supporters. This can also mean direct interference by enforcing broad "no solicitation" rules against union organizing activity. Other domination tactics include penalizing or excluding employees from the workplace who belong to or support the idea of collective representation or questioning employees about their union sympathies in an attempt to hinder the formation of a union.

Employers control key features of the workplace like scheduling, wage rates, layoffs, work assignments and promotions and terminations. Some resort to domination tactics such as manipulating working conditions, employment benefits and job satisfaction (National Labor Relations Board [NLRB], 2005). They can undermine employees' right to collective representation and to choose a bargaining agent of their choice or destabilize or neutralize a bargaining agent that has already been chosen. They may also promise special benefits to employees to discourage their union support.


Carrell, M.R., & Heavrin, C. (2007). Labor relations and collective bargaining: Cases, practice, and law (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

NLRB (2005b) "The National Labor Relations Board and You: Unfair Labor Practices" Retrieved May 16, 2012 from

5. Do you think negotiations in the public sector are more or less challenging than negotiations in the private sector? Why?

Public sector negotiations face more challenges because individual states are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act, and therefore, do not have the same rights as those in the private sector. Their rights depend on the state where they are located. Whether or not a public union has the right to strike, for example, depends on what has been negotiated with state governments, and the state laws that apply. For instance, in many states, teachers, police officers and fire fighters do not have the right to strike because they provide essential services that the private sector is unable to unwilling to offer. Even when they do strike, employers can…[continue]

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