Essay by JackywszHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2006

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You don't have to go far these days to hear negative things being said about unions. Many politicians, employers and people in the media openly criticize the labour movement. They say that unions are out of touch and out of date. They also claim that unions no longer "deliver the goods" for their members. Yet despite all these criticisms and complaints, 4 million Canadian workers proudly call themselves union members (Bartkiw, 2005). In fact, one in every three working people in the country belongs to a union (Bartkiw, 2005). In Alberta alone, more than 300,000 people are covered by union contracts - an increase of over 40,000 members since 1996 (Hart, 2002). Why do so many people choose to belong to unions? Because it makes sense! Unions are a major issue in the world of work. The truth is that unions help workers handle grievances (written complaint), a healthier and safer workplace, higher wages and better benefits than non-union workplace.

Unions help workers to better handle grievances. In a non-union workplace, workers are at the mercy of the boss. If an employee has a complaint related to the workplace, he or she can attempt to talk to a manager about it, but the manager can choose not to do anything. The manager might act on the complaint, ignore it or even punish the employee for raising the issue - it all depends on the nature of the complaint, the company's labour-management philosophy or even the manager's mood on that particular day. In a unionized workplace, on the other hand, grievances and complaints are handled in an entirely different manner. Unlike the non-union environment where the workers are basically subject to the whims of management, workers in unionized firms have a clear set of rights which are outlined in detail in...