A Labor union represents the workers’ welfare in terms of salaries, occupation safety, and protection from workplace harassment. The labor department allows employees to form a labor organization or join a valid union without employer or government intervention. All employees can join a union and are entitled to union membership from the first day of their employment. Further, it is illegal for an employer to intervene, deter or force employees to exercise their rights of unionization. Therefore, as HR personnel, it is essential to understand the essence of managing human capital in a unionized working environment.
A union plays a significant role in protecting workers by restructuring the organization’s payment schemes, shifts, and working hours. Unions significantly influence both unionized and non-unionized workers’ working conditions. It ensures the payment structures of the workers correspond to their competency and the number of hours worked (Cruz, 2020). The tedious jobs may be restructured to several shifts with fewer hours to prevent hurting workers. Additionally, unionization ensures the classification of jobs according to the necessary skill sets for completing a job and determining the market price for such occupations. Secondly, employee rights, including the right to safe and healthy working conditions, paid sick and family leave, are entrusted to labor unions. Unionized employees have access to benefits such as unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation that non-unionized employees do not (Huang, Jiang, Lie, & Que, 2017). In addition to the benefits and precautions imposed by the government, there is a need for an intermediary organization.
Workers’ rights, working conditions, pay, and benefits are among the core objectives of labor unions. It is common for managers to apply human resources strategies to develop a competitive edge and improve organizational performance. DiSalvo and Kucik (2018) note that powerful trade unions may influence a company’s human resources policy in favor of soft HR practices. Additionally, wages, bonuses, working hours, overtime, pension, medical benefits, and provident fund contributions are always at the center of a disagreement between workers and factory owners. As a result of the trade union movement, a variety of trade unions exist that are always fighting for the welfare and advancement of workers.
Notably, labor unions have a significant impact on organized labor. Cruz (2020) asserts that unions positively impact the workplace and employment. However, in rare circumstances, union activities may have detrimental effects on the employers. For instance, workers want greater pay, better facilities, and other benefits from their employers and relaxing work conditions that may hurt them. Further, employers may not be able to supply all of the advantages their employees have, making the organization strained in terms of finances. However, workers create unions to improve their negotiating power inside the company, while the unions aim to achieve more than just increased negotiating power.
Employee Discipline and Job Security
Security of service is one of the most fundamental demands of each employee. The goal of labor unions is to ensure that all workers have stable employment with a fair wage. For instance, workers benefit from the union’s collective bargaining power. Additionally, through collective bargaining agreements, unions assist in safeguarding workers from unfair dismissal (Hagedorn, Paras, Greenwich, & Hagopian, 2016). However, non-unionized workers may be terminated at any moment and without a substantial cause. Further, unions ensure the workers maintain discipline while airing their complaints or during strikes. Therefore, labor unions are crucial in enhancing job security and ensuring that the employee’s disciplinary actions contravene the stipulated guidelines.
Wages and Benefits
The notion of fair compensation for a fair day’s work is also a primary guideline for union wage policy, where payments are linked to employment rather than individuals’ characteristics. As a result of pay standardization policies and efforts to combat wage discrimination, salary disparities tend to be reduced. Unionized employees’ job group, the union premium associated with various categories of workers, and the degree of centralization and coordination in collective bargaining all play a role in whether or not unions reduce wage disparities (DiSalvo & Kucik, 2018). Therefore, unionized workers are likely to have a higher remuneration than non-unionized employees in the same job group.
Health and Safety
The government agency tasked with enforcing workplace safety standards is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This is where unions file complaints on employee safety issues in the workplace. OSHA may prompt regular workplace inspections to ascertain the safety of workers. Further, OSHA may impose shift restrictions and emphasize equipping employees with protective gear as one of the bargains negotiated by unions. Therefore, employees’ health and well-being may increase because of safety measures in unionized workplaces.
The rights of Union, Management, and Employees
Some laws and obligations govern each party in the unionized working environment. Unionized employees have voting rights to affect the representation in the collective bargaining. Employees also have the privilege of voluntarily paying the union. Secondly, unions should have good faith bargaining. This constitutes an obligation to participate in the bargaining activity to win a favorable ground to benefit the members (DiSalvo & Kucik, 2018). For instance, executive management is responsible for everyday operations, union negotiations, and board involvement on executive salary (Huang, Jiang, Lie, & Que, 2017, p.558). Additionally, the management should meet with the union to bargain workers’ salaries, working schedules, safety issues, and other mandatory subjects. However, the management should never be compelled to make decisions without negotiations.
Differences between Working in A Unionized Vs. Non-Unionized Environment
Non-unionized and unionized workers significantly differ in the governing of their employment contracts as the collective agreement governs the employment terms. The collective agreement contains the rights of all workers under a labor union contract. Employees in the same categories get the same treatment, compensation, and benefits. However, employees in a non-unionized workplace may be paid disproportionately for the same task and even made to work non uniform shifts.
Additionally, unionized employees have a stronger voice in negotiations with their employer. Thus, any pay increase requests must go via the collective bargaining process as the union has to decide whether to seek a rise. Essentially, employees who are part of a labor union have fewer options for directly negotiating with their employer compared to the non-unionized (Visser, 2019). Therefore, a non-unionized employee might request a raise, and the company would usually approve it without affecting the rest of the workforce.
Lastly, there exist several operational costs incurred in joining a labor union. There would be recurring expenditures for hiring a more extensive human resources department to handle grievances, job descriptions, rate negotiations, and update compliance with government requirements. Further, contract negotiations, complaints and arbitrations, and compliance with a collective bargaining agreement all need expensive outside services, such as a skilled labor attorney (Cruz, 2020). Additionally, the organization would incur costs, such as registration fees and monthly dues for every worker.
In summation, unions negotiate on employment conditions on behalf of the workers. Unionization allows workers to reap the benefits of collective bargaining since the adjustments in the working environment cut across the entire industry. However, there are significant differences between the unionized and non-unionized workers in distinct working environments due to varying job security and the ability to effect changes in time. Therefore, regardless of the employment dues to run the union, the unionized workers benefit more than the non-unionized ones.
Hagedorn, J., Paras, C. A., Greenwich, H., & Hagopian, A. (2016). The role of labor unions in creating working conditions that promote public health. American journal of public health, 106(6), 989-995.https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303138
DiSalvo, D., & Kucik, J. (2018). Unions, parties, and the politics of state government legacy cost. Policy Studies Journal, 46(3), 573-597. https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12232
Cruz, T. (2020). Opinions and Attitudes About Labor Unions in the Department of Public Social Services (Doctoral dissertation, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE).https://scholarworks.calstate.edu/downloads/z316q4600
Visser, J. (2019). Trade unions in the balance. ILO ACTRAV working paper.https://etufegypt.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/wcms_722482.pdf
Huang, Q., Jiang, F., Lie, E., & Que, T. (2017). The effect of labor unions on CEO compensation. Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, 52(2), 553-582.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022109017000072