A labor union is a collection of employees who work in a particular trade or profession, and who have come together to protect themselves against any unjust treatment in the workplace. Most times, matters of concern are working conditions, working hours, benefits and wages. With changing economies, the cost of living also changes and unions seek to ensure that the wages match that. Labor unions help workers to unite. Some people actually see unions as a form of organized crime, but others see it for what it is; an aid to representing the working community for better rights, benefits, and wages.

Regardless of what your job is, there might just be a union to represent you.

Who are the people that unions represent? Some of them are:

  • nurses
  • doctors
  • pharmacists
  • teachers
  • plumbers
  • janitors
  • engineers
  • police officers
  • construction workers
  • factory workers
  • government workers and many more.

Some of the existing labor unions in the United States are:

  • United Automobile Workers
  • United Mine Workers
  • American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
  • United Farm Workers
  • International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
  • Service Employees International Union
  • National Education Association
  • Communication Workers of America
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • National Association of Letter Carriers

It is quite apparent that there are unions to represent almost every type of employee. Isn’t that incredible? But how do unions work exactly?

Similarly to a democratic government system, union officers are elected via voting. The duty of the union officers is to make the decision that is beneficial to the union members. Union members pay dues to their respective unions and in return, the unions act as an advocate on the employee’s behalf in times of trouble.

How to form a union?

  1. Gather employees who share a common interest in forming a union.
  2. Speak to someone with authority and the knowledge to assist you with the next steps that the group should take.
  3. Build support for the union by encouraging co-workers to join the union. The more inclusive the union is, the more support you will receive.
  4. Show your support through an election to choose a leader and union representatives.
  5. Through negotiations with the employers, a collective bargaining agreement is written up and signed. The details of the agreement seek to ensure that the employees are working under fair conditions and are being paid fairly as well.

What are the benefits of union membership?

  1. Instead of approaching the employer as an individual, being a union member allows you group support for your concerns at work. Therefore, you approach your employer as a group with more support.
  2. Unions help protect employees from unjust dismissal from work because they have a process to follow.
  3. People are indecisive about whether strikes are effective in a union but it is definitely a tool that can be used.
  4. Unions almost guarantee that an employee will receive a certain level of benefits and job security.
  5. Unions are there to give advice and support when needed

Unions are beneficial to both employee and employer. Whilst they seek to secure the benefits, wages and job security of the employee, unions also aim to increase the productivity of the business to ensure that they are able to provide the employees with the agreed terms on the bargaining agreement.

Ever wondered how unions work? Read on to find out how.

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