Effective Strategies Essay
“Some unions feel that the organization does not compensate its members fairly, or that the organizational working conditions are less than desirable. Conversely, some employers feel that unions interfere with management decisions and impede on a positive relationship between managers and employees. There may be some truth to both perceptions” (Ashford University). I will provide a “…detailed explanation of the effective strategies an organization can implement to create and maintain a conducive working relationship with unions, as well as the effective strategies a union can implement to create and maintain a conducive working relationship with management” (Ashford University). I will begin by briefly describing the role of management in an organization. Management is responsible for the smooth running of the company. Keeping employees happy on the job would be one of the duties involved. Keeping up with industry standards and always moving forward with innovation, while heeding all safety regulations and laws. Working with and not against the flow of the operation to be successful while making a profit is where management can soar. Secondly I will briefly discuss the role of a union in an organization.
A basic requirement of unions is that members give up their individual rights (e.g., raises based on performance) to benefit the collective (e.g., cost of living increases to all employees). Is this equitable and fair? Well members of unions negotiate as a group with the employer and this ensures more power than if they were just alone on their own. While it has been documented that “…union employees make 27 percent more than nonunion workers. Ninety-two percent of union workers have job-related health coverage versus 68 percent for nonunion workers. Union workers also have a great advantage over nonunion workers in securing guaranteed pensions” (howstuffworks.com). This is the bright side of union membership, so it seems that giving up rights to obtain these advantages would be sound advice. In my opinion if the union performs the duties the member/employee signed up for, then yes it would be equitable and fair to give up their rights.
On the other hand if the union performed poorly in its duties, I would consider leaving for another position elsewhere. Some of the positives that involve unions would be the capitalist ideas that make this country what it is today. Unions are there for each employee who is represented by them and protected in the work place from unfair tactics. “Capitalism is directed towards the pursuit of profits and unions are directed towards the rights of workers.” The way these opposing viewpoints can be advantageous, yet destructive, to the business community depends on the way they balance the two. “A profits interest is often referred to as a “carried interest”. A profits interest is typically given as a reward for the performance of services…” (myllcagreement.com) “This method serves as an incentive for partners to become more proactive in pursuing bigger and better profits thus contributing towards the companies’ growth” (investopedia.com).
Growth is essential to the success of the business and the union, without losing sight of the interests of the employee (member). Growth indicates a profit is made and a company should hold in high esteem the people who made this so. So as a company grows it should ensure the employees are happy and treated fairly. They should not lose sight of the bottom line which is the business itself: them and the employees. Unions step up to make sure the employee is treated right with fair conditions and proper raises as the company moves forward. The destructive issue could occur if the employee was not rewarded as the profits increased. An unhappy employee will make for an unsuccessful business.
There are some downsides to unions. Let me first say that strikes are a big part of what could possibly be the one downside, if issues do not work for the benefit of the employee represented. Although strikes were intended to get management’s attention, “The incidence of strikes has been almost steadily decreasing, and strikes now consume a minuscule portion of total working time—in the neighborhood of one-twentieth of 1 percent in most recent years” (Sloane, 2010, pg. 4). Many times a settlement takes place which will avert a strike and this is when both sides reach a compromise. If a strike ensues only a percentage of employees’ wages are paid, if they participate in picket duty. But, “For most unionized employees who agree to strike: •They stop getting a paycheck.
•Their family’s healthcare and dental benefits are suspended. •They are not eligible to receive state unemployment benefits. •Their job can be filled with a replacement worker. •Their job can be impacted in the future, if there is a loss of customers during the strike” (cintasfreedomtochoose.com). Depending on the results of the strike, winning or losing could alter the reputation of the union and also of the employer, for better or worse depending on the results. Appropriate circumstances where a strike would be an appropriate bargaining tactic would be when a failure to communicate occurs and further negotiations need to happen. A total breakdown in communication is most always when strikes occur. Sometimes though strikes occur in an inappropriate manner and this is when the employee suffers. It is when this happens or when the public welfare is affected that a strike would be deemed inappropriate.
There are many global major players are union run, I realistically know that we would be in a world of trouble without them, in example: AFL-CIO and the SEIU. To be honest with you I have the impression that unions such as these actually perform better on a political platform. With all the money and power there comes responsibility, and more often than not we hear about the corruption unions flex influencing (lobbying) individuals in the position to pass laws with ‘dark money’. “Dark Money? AFL-CIO accused of campaigning without disclosing” (watchdog.org). This in no way seems to be connected with the absolute values unions initially professed, which was to stand up for the worker and give strength to the small guy. Now as things have progressed, the red tape becomes likened to fly paper, very sticky. Unions favorably represent the needs of the higher ups and I give again the article in our Course Materials about the ‘Bitter Bargain’.
The bigger the union size the less likely the small guy’s needs will be met, since large money/power weld negative actions. But with a small union it becomes an intimate task to please your members and therefore a more positive vibe is felt. “Selected Evidence About Globalization’s Impact on the U.S. Labor Market Effects on Overall Incomes and Wages” (dol.gov) is another issue that affects the bottom line of the globally competitive work environment. Free trade influences the profits or losses/jobs or unemployment of this country. It makes one wonder if this is not why large unions have become much like a small country with a government playing king of the hill. I will present two strategies/actions an organization can implement to create and maintain a conducive, working relationship with unions. Employers set the pay scale for each job and two strategies/actions they implement to keep the peace with union members is to use the comparative norm strategy and the ability-to-pay (cost of living increase).
There are different circumstances where it would be more appropriate for an organization to follow the comparative norm strategy to determine an employees’ wage rate, versus the ability-to-pay or the cost of living strategy. Depending on the industry the employee is in will be the determining factor in whether the employer has the capabilities to meet economic demands. There are classifications in the different industries, and even subgroups within the different industries. Another factor at work that divides the comparative norm would be job titles. Each place of work has a different description for job titles and they vary greatly, so in many situations a certain wage would not be appropriate for employees at different work places with the same title. Wage systems are another way that the comparative norm may not work, since the pay may be ‘by hour’, incentive systems paid individually, and group incentive systems.
Benefits cannot go unnoticed and are a part of the pay system. Depending on where you live in the nation may also have an impact on the wage an employee is given (i.e. cost of living differences). Typically the minimum wage increase I have experience with would be the annual 4% cost of living wage, and this is in the American south west states. Profits made by the company you work for hold major criterion on the ability to pay a cost of living increase. In the engineering world in which I worked as a drafter for over 30 years competition to obtain the best workers and keep them is all based on wages and benefits. If some other company wanted to pull you away from your employer, they would offer more money and/or better benefits. I can recall a time when my wages were increased significantly when another company made me an offer.
Finally, I will present a minimum of two strategies/actions a union can implement to create and maintain a conducive, working relationship with management. Grievances and arbitration are two of the main strategies/actions that keep the peace while a member of a union. “Grievance legal definition: A claim by a union or a unionized employee that a collective bargaining agreement has been breached…. The formal document in which a union claims that the employer has breached the collective bargaining agreement and for which, arbitration is convened” (duhaime.org). The way the use of the grievance and arbitration processes and procedures can enhance the relationship between a union and management is that is can reach a position that both parties can find common ground and satisfaction. Where this same effort can be destructive is when the breakdown in trust and commitment fall into place where once the opposite was true.
Monetary losses occur at this point and sometimes the union fails to properly represent the employee and resentment occurs. When “…confusion and uncertainty in the area of employer–employee relations” (Sloane, 2010, pg. 217) occurs, both parties lose. In conclusion, we all know that unions have their place in our society and can be run using effective strategies that have proven to work in the past and changing those strategies as new ideas surface in the workplace, effectively. There is a place for unions and people who would benefit from them. In assessing the changing complexion of the U.S. labor force two things come to mind: baby boomers and immigrants. Why, because these types of workers may find unionization attractive. New retirees and new citizens might be looking for jobs where unions have a foothold: like grocers.
Do not forget the fiasco with the strikers in California who fought for 5 months and got something unwanted. “United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union… The ratified contract contains no raises for the 70,000 supermarket workers it covers, but it does preserve most health benefits for current employees. However, new workers will receive lower wages and fewer benefits. Many workers said they voted for the contract reluctantly. The lengthy labor dispute took an emotional and financial toll” (Bitter Bargain). This will be copied, presumably, by fellow unions, and it leads to a running comment that unions no longer provide for the common worker as its mission statement once led its members to believe. Leaving citizens with less money in their pocket when benefits are not included on payday will erode the backbone of unions.
It used to be 35% of American workers belonged to a union in 1959, now a fraction of that is true. Additionally predictions have commented that some baby boomers will exit the workforce leading to a “lower (the) overall labor force participation rate, leading to a slowdown in the growth of the labor force” (Toossi). This comes from the other side of the podium in the in the debate of how labor force will be affected. The complexion of America has changed and without changing for the better, I fear unions will run their course, or transform into a totally new idea, without all the corruption that comes with power and money. Unions are here to stay and change is on the way if using effective strategies are on the agenda.
Retrieved from article by Mitra Toossi: http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2005/11/art3full.pdf`
Bitter Bargain: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/jan-june04/strike_3-1.html#
Retrieved from: http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/herman/reports/futurework/conference/trends/trendsVI.htm
Sloane, A., Witney, F. (2010). Labor relations. (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. Pearson Learning Solutions. VitalBook file.
Retrieved from: http://watchdog.org/131467/money-afl-cio-union/
Retrieved from: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/profits-interest.asp
Retrieved from: http://www.myllcagreement.com/relevant-articles/what_is_the_difference_between_profits_interest_and_capital_interest.html
Retrieved from: http://money.howstuffworks.com/labor-union2.htm
Retrieved from: http://www.cintasfreedomtochoose.com/strikes.asp
Retrieved from: http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/G/Grievance.aspx