A labor union is an organization that exists to protect the interests of workers and employees by representing them in negotiations with employers concerning benefits and compensation packages, working hours and working conditions. There are around 60 local and international labor unions in the United States and Canada and they represent workers from different industries such as teachers, IT professionals, nurses and engineers, among others. However, despite the goal of these organizations to strengthen the workers in the U.S., there are also opposing groups to what labor unions really do. Let us take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of labor unions.
List of Pros of Labor Unions
Labor or trade unions hold elections to choose officers who will represent the workers. This practice gives members the freedom to vote for people they consider fit to negotiate on their behalf. Moreover, unions do not force or coerce employees in joining and employers do not have the right to keep their employees from forming unions although these employers can dissuade workers to do so.
2. Consumer Benefit Programs.
Advocates for labor unions posit that these organizations make negotiations for consumer benefits for working families. The Union Privilege, for example, negotiates for benefits and discounts on almost all financial and legal services. Moreover, members can also enjoy consumer discount when it comes to services such as telecommunications, transportation, travel and entertainment, etc. When it comes to financial struggles such as disability, lay off and strikes, labor unions also give support.
3. Protection of Workers.
Aside from negotiating for higher salaries and better working conditions, proponents claim that through labor unions, 93% of its members have gained access to medical services as opposed to only 69% of the non-unionized employees. When it comes to security in employment, members have contracts with unions that include legal representation for re-employment and compensation in the event that they get wrongfully terminated.
List of Cons of Labor Unions
1. Price Increase in Consumer Goods.
One of the drawbacks of labor unions is the tendency of product prices to increase and the benefits member workers enjoy will be a burden to the buying public. Critics argue that since unions negotiate for higher wages and employers have cannot change what have been signed on the CBA or collective bargaining agreement, manufacturers will pass their losses to consumers by asking for higher prices for goods.
2. High Membership Dues.
Workers who want to be members have to pay membership dues which are additional expenses for workers. Those who have more mouths to feed are the ones who are hard hit by these fees. Opponents of labor unions also stress that in some cases, labor union representatives spend the funds for personal expenses and extravagant lifestyles.
3. Member Coercion.
Some critics claim that there are some labor unions that force their members to vote according to what these unions want regardless if this is really for the interests of the workers. Since the bargaining unit will be the ones to represent and the members are asked to vote, some labor unions manipulate and brainwash the members like in disputes between the management and the workers.
Despite the benefits and setbacks labor unions offer, experts believe that the pros of labor unions outweigh the cons.