All employees have right to form unions at their places of work, which is guaranteed by the federal and the state laws. Unions give employees the right to read and discuss union literature, challenge and encourage co-workers to form a union, have a right to attend union meetings, right to wear items branded with the union logos and symbols to work and the other rights such as the enjoying freedom of speech and freedom of association. Employers cannot stop their employees from forming unions to protect themselves. It is against an employee to fire or threaten to fire an employee for joining a union. They should also not favor employees that do not support any union over those that are involved in unions. Giving false promises to your employees to defy rule set by unions is also punishable by the law. The US law states that "Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representation or their own choosing and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining" (Robert H. Zieger, 2002).
This essay explicates the upsides and downsides of the creation of a federal right to form a union
Labor unions are agreements among workers that a chosen group of people speak and negotiate with the management on behalf of all employees. They usually charge periodic fees or union dues for membership. Labor unions are in most countries all over the world and have become more popular in this era where people are educated and civilized and cannot agree with oppression. Unions are able to use the power of strikes if their requests are not fulfilled, which can shut down all productive operations. According to Robert H. Zieger (2002), unions have been successful in all their efforts to assist workers and it can be said that they have become an important part of the government across the world. Not all employees are represented by the unions but are represented under the National Labor Relations Board. This board helps them to take action and protection in regards to their employment conditions (Robert H. Zieger, 2002).
Forming labor unions is a benefit to the employees in many ways. Unions assist workers to be protected from different company abuses such as poor working conditions, long working hours and unwarned hiring and firing among others. In today's tough economy employees need their salaries to be able to meet their needs and without the union rules employees may be fired at any time but protection from the unions gives them the right to contest it with the employer in the court of law. Before the introduction of unions, employers could treat employees how they wanted but the emergence of unions has helped to control these behaviors as they have people to protect them.
Unions will give workers an opportunity for them to speak or negotiate with the top management without feeling inferior in front of them. This way the minor employees are able to speak out their issues and ideas with confidence, which can be for the betterment and the development of the organization. The advantage of leveling the field for employees and employers is that it gives them a better bargaining power, especially if they want something to be improved within the organization, for example, bargaining for better wages, proper working environment among others. It is proper for employees through the union to elect people to represent them for regular meetings with the top management, when an agreement is reached both parties need to put the negotiations down on paper for reference especially when there is the breach of contract. All problems of employees are addressed better in a group rather than individually. The top management has many things to deal with, they find it hard to address the same problems of employees individually, and it is advisable that they put all their demands together and how they want them solved to reduce on time and stress for both parties.
Unions provide job security and reduce the possibility of the untimely layoff or wage cuts. Union members are middle-class people struggling to make a living with the little salaries they earn.
Unions give employees protection against employers who hire and fire employees without any systematic order. An employee can only be retired when they have attained the retirement age and the management may not terminate its employee without a reason they may face the legal charge. Unions form a stable and long-term relationship between the employee and the employer. This will make the employees more willing to work in the organization and develop relationships that are more concrete with their co-workers. It benefits the management by saving time and money for training and recruitment of new employees.
Unions do not totally have good benefits in a society. Unions make the companies pay their employees higher chargers and these in-turns are expenses passed over to the consumer or the customers of the organization. When this happens, there are reduced profit margins and the only way to compensate for it is through charging it to the consumer of the product or service. Unions will prevent qualified workers from getting proper jobs, as the unions will protect less qualified workers from being laid off or being fired (Robert H. Zieger, 2002). A good example is that of teachers, old retired teachers who do not perform cannot be retrenched until they reach their retiring age while new well-trained graduates cannot get good jobs because there are no places to teach.
Companies are times held answerable to the specific unions that represent their employees and may be a disadvantage. Unions such as teachers, construction workers, and police among others only represent the specific registered persons and if a problem arises that their union cannot solve they cannot seek help from another union. Some unions have more power than the others and if they come up with demands and are not met, leading to a strike may cause more harm than good. A perfect example can be when employees in the health sector strike it may cause more harm than good so if possible the government should speed solving the problem to avoid an economic crisis (Robert H. Zieger, 2002).
Unions are continuously becoming a source of political power and corruption in the society. Politicians believe that through unions they may get supporters for the different posts they are vying for. These can cause them to favor unions than supporting them more than another can, which can result in conflict. The union leaders may get more engrossed in supporting the politicians and political parties to get more favors instead of engaging in activities that are to help their members. Unions create a division between employers and employees instead of creating a harmonious environment between them. Employers have to comply with demands that the unions bring out and sometimes it is not possible for them to meet these demands causing conflicts between the two parties.
Union membership fee is charged from the employees for being represented by the union. Some unions force all workers to join and pay union dues if they want to continue keeping their jobs. Employees at times feel oppressed if they are forced to join and pay these dues, joining a union should be a willing action for one to take if one is not interested they should not be forced. Unions that force membership and membership fees, always have a history of corruption and communism policy. Unions cannot protect an employee who has decided to quit the job and work elsewhere. Once one has quit his/her job, he/she is no longer governed by the union he/she had been registered in and has no right to make any demands.
Unions tend to reduce the investment rate in a company since investors will not want to take risks of strikes, reduced flexibility rates among others. Investors try to avoid sectors that are prone to strikes, which may shut down production and reduce the revenue generation ability making them invest in areas that will benefit them more. These unions tend to focus on the needs of their members without considering other members of the society who include the non-union members and the society. When a particular union is on strike, there are riots, protests among other things that affect other people and sectors in the society (Robert H. Zieger, 2002).
In conclusion, unions will affect employees and employer directly and indirectly and they have both the good and bad sides. Forming unions protects the rights of the employees who have been oppressed for a very long time. Although these unions continue to protect the interest of the employees at times they are continually abused by those protected by them. This may frustrate the employer because they may not take any action towards the employee when they make demands that cannot be met or misbehave. Joining unions may have an advantage of getting extra benefits unlike those that are not in registered unions. Employers will also like to employ people who are in registered unions as it is easier to deal with the different problems that arise.