Labor Unions Essay
During previous years, labor unions were used by industry workers as a way to make their voices heard and to push for change regarding unfair treatment. To some, these unions were seen as a form of threat but to others it was a way to bring the workforce together and make it beneficial to not one or a few, but to all. Labor unions have become irrelevant in the United States today.
They were an important and fundamental part of the history of United States commerce and the country’s growth into an economic powerhouse (Jacob Silverman. How Labor Unions Work). But, as time has progressed and the economy and society have greatly advanced, there is a less need for labor unions. In addition to their irrelevancy, unions are unbeneficial to the United States commerce.
To begin with, unions were formed initially for the common good and as a form of protection, but now they abuse their power to the detriment of its members. More importantly, they create a competition between the workers’ standard of living and the competitive strength of the employer. Furthermore, they decrease the amount of jobs available in the economy. Unions were formed initially for the common good and as a form of protection, but now they abuse their power to the detriment (disadvantage) of its members.
When unions first came into existence in the 19th century, it was the beginning of the industrial revolution where workers moved away from agricultural work areas into factories and mines. In the process of this transition, many faced terrible working conditions: long hours, little pay, and health risks. Women and children who worked, generally received lower pay than men did, but even the men weren’t receiving enough for the amount of time they worked. The government did little to limit and resolve these injustices so therefore, labor movements raised; lobbying for better rights and working conditions; collective bargaining.
This gave the workers power to demand for things which they felt they needed, but as time progresses, this power is abused in the sense that workers leave their jobs undone and seek more than that which they are being given. This is to their disadvantage because many need the jobs they have and without them, they most likely wouldn’t be able to survive. “”Power tends to corrupt,” and that has certainly been true for the unions. Unions have become selfish, extremely greedy, and even thuggish in their never-ending quest to take in as much as they can for themselves.” (John Hawkins. 5 Reasons Unions are bad for America) By protesting they create a sense of defiance which in turn may cause employers to take actions such as firing workers.
This doesn’t harm the employer but the employee. Unions create a competition between the workers’ standard of living and the competitive strength of the employer. “We are now competing in a world market, and the standards most unions attempt to uphold are making it difficult to compete globally. So we’re forced to choose between the workers standard of living, and the competitive strength of his employer. Is the striking union providing service to a public company? How will the shareholders be affected? Will a strike bring riot, or simply more reruns and reality shows? The stakes are different.” (Ron Wilkinson.
United We Stand? Are Unions Still Relevant Today?) What is basically being addressed and explained here is the idea and fact that employers and companies have set goals which they have to reach. Many industries purse horizontal integration in form of mergers which involves buying out another company. A company that buys out all its competitors can achieve a monopoly; control over its industries production, wages and prices. If employers decide to look at the benefits which the workers aren’t getting, then the money that the companies need to expand goes to the workers meaning less gain.
This also affects the consumers because the money that the employees receive reflects back on the prices that consumers have to pay. They pay higher prices when the added union-wage bill is passed on by companies. (James Sherk. Do Americans Today still Need Labor Unions?) Unions decrease the amount of jobs available in the economy. Many unions have succeeded in wining higher wages and better conditions for their members but in doing so, they reduce the amount of available jobs in unionized companies; this occurs because of the basic law of demand.
This law basically says that if unions successfully raise the price of labor, employers will purchase less of it and this makes unions a major anticompetitive force in the labor markets. (Morgan O. Reynolds. Labor Unions) “Economists consistently find that unions decrease the number of jobs available in the economy. The vast majority of manufacturing jobs lost over the past three decades have been among union members–non-union manufacturing employment has risen.
Research also shows that widespread unionization delays recovery from economic downturns.” (Michael D. Haberman. Why Unions Are Bad For Companies, Employees and Customers) Unions raise wages for their member but while doing that, they lower profits; causing businesses to invest less and decrease jobs. Overall, unions have served a great purpose in the United Sates, but in today’s world, they cause more harm than help. Collective representation makes little to no sense today considering he fact that employees are now looking for employees with individual insight and abilities.
Jobs depend on the creativity and skills of an individual, but many workers push for a “one size fits all” contract which ignores what each person individually brings to the bargaining table. (James Sherk. Do Americans Today still Need Labor Unions?) Unions boast that their members earn higher wages than non-union workers but that money that they receive is being taken from someone else. The original purpose of unions has been violated and corrupted by power.
They’ve created a competitive atmosphere where there shouldn’t be one and prevented others from getting opportunities which they should have. Unions have grown disrupt the United States commerce.