Downsizing, part timing, contracting, and sending jobs overseas are becoming trends in the business world. These trends are all a part of a conscious effort to lower salaries and shed the responsibility of providing employees with the benefits they need. Unions were developed as a countermeasure to ensure worker’s rights and secure the benefits they deserve. As the gap between workers and executives steadily increases, unions have continued to grow in relevance.
The Role of a Union
The first labor union dates back all the way back to the industrial revolution and has been a part of our country since its inception. They were created out of a necessity to organize and unite workers. As an intermediary between employee and employer, unions gave workers the power to negotiate for better working conditions.
To this day, workers continue to benefit from unions as they are still instrumental in setting and enforcing pay standards and workplace protections. However, one of the biggest advantages of being a part of a union is the ability to secure fringe benefits. This can include things like medical insurance, medical/family leave, and workers compensation.
How Unions Work
The real strength of a union lies in the collective bargaining power held by the unionized workers. Together workers join forces to use that power to negotiate with employers on common interests that improve working conditions. Specifically, unions work as a democracy, holding elections for officials who are put in charge of representing and making decisions on behalf of the rest of the members. Issues are brought up by members of the union, and the elected official brings those issues to the employer.
The Benefits of a Union
In general, the main benefits of forming a union are higher pay, improved benefits, and having a voice on the job. In fact, unionized workers are more likely than nonunionized workers to receive benefit packages such as retirement benefits and disability insurance. Other advantages could include:
- More flexible work hours
- Improved workplace health and safety
- Better work/life balance
- Pay equity
However, in addition to those direct benefits, there are also indirect benefits. For example, unionized workers tend to be more informed about protections that should be available to them. Knowing this information is a big part of bargaining for better working conditions.
How to Form a Union
By now, you know all of the benefits of joining a union, but how do you form a union if you don’t already have one? There are four important steps to follow:
- Get together with your coworkers and discuss your shared interest in organizing a union.
- Get in touch with a union organizer to go over what needs to be done to establish a union.
- Build support for the union.
- Have an election to appoint an official to represent the collective.
See How a Union Could Benefit You
Founded in 1957, Southwest Pipe Trades and MCA Texas Joint Marketing Committee works every day to help educate the public about the importance of workplace safety. We want to ensure you get the workplace protections you deserve and help you create a healthy employer and employee relationship. Contact us today!