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Unions, Their Goals and Membership Benefits

What Are Unions?

In the global environment of today, it is especially hard for people to work and earn a living. The economy is suffering from adapting to the recent events of the pandemic, and the prices for food and daily necessities and only becoming higher. Working people can often feel pressured and stuck in an unhealthy work environment with no ability to change their circumstances. Thankfully, special organizations exist to support workers in their ability to be treated well and rightfully compensated for their time. Unions are professional organizations that work to help employees realize their rights and be respected in their position. These organizations can be both general and job specific-operating in a particular area using representatives.

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Origins of Unions

With the rapid industrialization of the world, the workers coming to be employed at large factories were not provided with the rights we come to expect today. Things like health insurance, days off, work breaks, and safety standards were all not present. Worker organizations have come in place to address this problem by organizing active action like protests and negotiating with the owners of businesses for better work environments (A Brief History of Unions). Throughout the years, their activism and support have allowed people employed in a variety of professions to enjoy better protection, as well as to be compensated with a livable wage for their efforts.

Goals of Unions

The operations of a union have been tightly connected with assisting people ever since their creation. They allow people to band together in an organized and lawful manner, as well as to coordinate direct action such as strikes. Each person working in a union understands the struggles of the common man and works to achieve the results that will help every individual achieve a better standard of life.

Why Are Unions Important?

Individually, a person is not able to effectively argue for their rights or interact with their employers in a meaningful capacity. If a person starts to argue or complain about their conditions, the employers can easily replace them or silence them, making individual activism very ineffective. Unions, then, ensure that a particular person and their needs are backed up by a legally protected organization and that their voice is heard in a much better capacity.

Joining a Union

If a union is already operating on the grounds of one’s workplace, they can find and talk with the nearest union representative, who will arrange the necessary procedures for a person to join. If such an option is unavailable, however, a person can also find the nearest union using the internet or by finding their number in a phone book. The application process is simple and involves an individual filling out a form with some of their personal details. From that point, one will need to pay a membership fee that is used to keep the union in operation and allow it to work within its field. If a union member has any legal or employment issues, then they can be supported and protected within the capacity of their organization. If the situation calls for it, a person can additionally start their own union and invite their work colleagues to join it.

Membership Benefits

As discussed before, union membership can provide people with a variety of benefits, all ensured through careful negotiation and action. Most importantly, union members are able to argue for and receive better pay for their work, which, for many people, is extremely important. Furthermore, such benefits as better paid leave, health protections, and safety insurance are also provided, making people more flexible and satisfied with their position at the job (McNicholas). Additionally, an employer will not be able to fire their worker unlawfully or without compensation if they are under a union membership, which can increase job security and confidence in employees.

Current Problem of Unions

It is important to note that, despite membership support being the highest in recent years, actual unionization is at unprecedentedly low right now (Cheng). Rates of people joining unions have been steadily declining for more than a decade now, according to the data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (Union Membership (Annual) News Release). This trend can be attributed to a variety of current factors and trends, most prominently to the changes in the work environment and the job market. The understanding of employment relations is becoming increasingly twisted, with people working under contracts that make them ineligible for unionization. Furthermore, some big corporations actively oppose the formation of unions and actively punish the effort of people to gather together. It is, more than ever, necessary for workers to operate together and find common ground for protecting their rights and take union action very seriously. Without any change to this trend, many employment spheres will be able to abuse their workers and treat them in unsuitable conditions.

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“A Brief History of Unions.” Union Plus. n. d. Web.

Cheng, Michelle. “Despite Americans Rallying for More Unions, Membership Rates Continue to Decline.” Quartz. Quartz. n. d. Web.

McNicholas, Celine. “Why Unions Are Good for Workers-especially in a Crisis like COVID-19: 12 Policies That Would Boost Worker Rights, Safety, and Wages.” Economic Policy Institute. n. d. Web.

“Union Membership (Annual) News Release.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. n. d. Web.

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