Labor Relations- Unionization of Employees
Unionization of employees is a concept that has continued to grow and to be understood since the inception of the first workers’ unions for carpenters, cobblers and printers in the 1790s. Worker unionization continued to rise through the 20th century and in contemporary times, the key drivers being the technological advancement and the national economy. The age of unionization was further enhanced through the formation of the American Federation of Labor in 1886 which enabled workers’ unions to work independently in their fields.
Despite the illegalization of strikes in the 1800s, a ruling by the Massachusetts court in 1842 continued to encourage employees to join unions and to engage in any planned union activities (Dinlersoz & Greenwood, 2012). In addition to this, The Wagner Act of 1935 continued to provide an opportunity for collective bargaining by trade unions. In the 1920s, the formation of workers’ unions experienced a go slow which was averted during the 1920-1930 financial depression (Watcher, 2007). From then, unionization has continued to grow and to impact the American economy.
There are various reasons why workers join trade unions, key of which is to advocate for fair treatment at work through the impact of collective bargains. Through unions, employees get to have better chances in court, lower legal costs and protection from mistreatment in the work environment. Moreover, unionized employees have greater chances for better pay since unions negotiate on their behalf (Bryson, 2003).
Illegalization of strikes and boycotts, deregulation of some industries, technological changes and shift towards a more competitive economy all contributed significantly to the decline in labor unionization at different times in history. In some periods, unionization occurred only in industries with more preference for unskilled labor. Although not dead, trade unions more or less thrive in industries with ignorant and immobile workers as well as in government entities with low competition levels.
Bryson, A. (2003). Employee Desire for Unionization and its Implications for Union Organizing. Policy Studies Institute, 5-8. Retrieved from http://www.psi.org.uk/pdf/rdp/rdp12-Employee-Desire-for-Unionisation.pdf
Dinlersoz, E. and Greenwood, J. (2012). The Rise and fall of Unions in the U.S. University of Pennsylvania 1-11. Retrieved from http://www.repository.openn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1032&content=psc_working_papers
Watcher, M. (2007). The Rise and Decline of Unions. University of Pennsylvania. 23-29. Retrieved from http://www.cato.org/doc-download/sites/cato,org/files/serials/files/regulation/2007/7/v30n2-2.pdf
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