Changing Landscape of Unions
Unions have been defined as organizations based on collective self interest that focuses on issues relative to work and seeks to bargain on behalf of a group of workers to improve their living and working conditions (Fletcher, B. 2012). In the past century, evolvement of unions has been in part, the passage of much legislation governing union activities and collective bargaining including the Norris La Guardia Anti Injunction Act, the National Labor Relations Act and the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosures Act to name a few. Prior to the 1930’s, these labor laws were not in place and conspiracy doctrine and injunctions were used in attempts to ...view middle of the document...
5% of United States workers are represented by unions. The evolvement of unions has seemed to stagnate due to the changing external factors previously stated.
While unions hold the same philosophy today as it did at the birth of organized labor; it is adapting to the globalization of today’s companies and technological advances that presents the biggest challenge. Many companies can easily shift operations overseas and pay lower wages in developing countries and technological advances have replaced a significant portion of workers in the manufacturing sector. Unions need not shift their philosophy in theory but more so direct it towards a different demographic. Some views hold that there is indeed optimism in regards to union sustainability and necessity while others simply are just awaiting the demise of organized labor unions.
Current modification of union philosophy must now be the “who” unions represent in correlation with the original representation principles that focus on the understanding that workers, as individuals sometimes find themselves powerless in the clutches of the employer and that others also share this powerlessness. It is here where this philosophy must extend beyond the blue collar focus of the past and reach to the private and public sector and promote the need for a permanent defender to take on the employer. (Yates, M. D. 2009).
Per the text, “there is a definite upsurge in unionism among government employees, but is combined with the lesser emergence of collective bargaining in other white collar areas which is weakening the non-members traditional association of organized labor with manual work” (Sloane, A. W. 2010). Lower scale white collar workers are essentially morphing into the blue collar status of yesteryear in occupations such as the customer service industry, engineers, and even computer operators. The typical 9-5 workday has increasingly moved more to shift work, hence reflecting the organizational culture of blue collar factory work. Unions must hone in on these new generation white collar workers to survive. They must educate to them the benefits of union membership in an era of extreme job uncertainty. The challenge here is lower scale white collar workers are indeed replaceable in the above mentioned fields and often contracted by big organizations as temporary workers.
Unions must modify their philosophy as author Bill Fletcher states, “Unions of the 21st century must work in a collaborative way with employers and must support company success; the adversarial us vs. them has been rejected; true job security comes from producing best quality products at the best value” (Chrontowski, K. 2012). It would benefit unions here to build alliances to succeed in this way. The re-birth of labor power can only come from collaboration with workers and the community that supports the common goal. It is these individuals who need collective support for the collective interests, especially job...