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How Important are Labor Unions

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017

The 2013 report of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there are about 14.5 million wage and salary workers who are members to at least 60 different labor unions in the whole of the United States. The type of workers includes office workers, nurses, doctors, actors, engineers, writers, teachers, IT/computer professionals, airline pilots, police officers, government workers, pharmacists, construction workers, factory workers, plumbers, mechanics, and many others.

The first union in the U.S., which was the National Labor Union (NLU), was founded in 1866. Many others unions were also established, including the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which was able to successfully negotiate a wage increase of its members, besides improvement in the observance of safety in the workplace.

Workers who choose to become union members can enjoy the following benefits:

  • 30% higher wage compared to non-union members;
  • Discounts in various types of services and establishments;
  • An 8-hour work day and weekends without work;
  • Sick leave, paid vacation, overtime pay and holiday pay;
  • Lunch breaks and other breaks at work;
  • Compensation increases and evaluations;
  • protection through anti- discrimination laws, whistleblower protection law and wrongful termination law;
  • Employer health care insurance, social security benefits, and Workers’ Compensation Insurance benefits;
  • Pensions;
  • Employer dental, life, and vision insurance; and,
  • The right to join strikes; and so forth.

The establishment of labor unions has greatly helped in improving the lives of workers and their families. Workers are not the only ones who benefit greatly from unions, though, but the nation’s economy as well. This is because labor unions allow business firms to grow, become more profitable and remain competitive by helping decrease the number of employee turnover, create a better-trained and more competitive workforce, improve communication in the workplace, ensure higher productivity, ensure quality of product and service, and make the workplace healthy and safe.

As explained by the law firm Cary Kane LLP, due to the many legal issues relating to the basic and essential concerns of a union it may be necessary to enlist the legal services of a seasoned employment lawyer. A few of the many legal issues or unions include:

  • Negotiating collective bargaining agreements;
  • Handling contract interpretation and disciplinary arbitrations;
  • Advising about internal affairs, such as officer elections and member relations;
  • Defending against breach of duty of fair representation charges at the NLRB, PERB, or in court; and,
  • Handling legal issues relating to industrial action, including strikes, picketing, boycotts, injunctions, organizing, contract campaigns, comprehensive campaigns, and anti-corporate campaign

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