What are Unions and What do They Do

Essay by LewistowersUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2004

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Ontario Canada

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What are Unions and What do They Do

To understand the need for unions firstly we need to understand the nature of capitalism. Black does an excellent job of summing up what capitalism truly stands for, and what we need to remember, no matter how wonderful capitalism may appear to be: Black does this in his writing, "The raison d'être of these capitalist firms is not to meet human needs, but to earn profits," (Black & Silver, 2001, 14) To further our understanding of capitalism I find it insightful to note Black's quote: "Capitalism is, as the economist Joseph Schumpeter put it, a process of "creative destruction," it creates, and it destroys, in its never-ending drive for more profits," (Black & Silver, 2001, 15). Therefore when we consider what unions do today, we must also consider what unions have done in the past.

Although each of us has our own ideas of unionism, myself included, we must remember that complacency in any respect, will lead to a lack of progress and overall dissatisfaction. For many people living in Canada today, particularly those of us born into this working world influenced by unions, we must keep in mind that we have never lived or existed in an era not influenced by unions, hence it is difficult at times for us to judge their effectiveness and necessity, for it is only a blend of history and speculation which many of us can imagine our living and working conditions had there never been unions.

All manner of working people today belong to trade unions, whether employed or unemployed, from doctors to trash collectors, schoolteachers to secretaries, pilots to printers. Unions act as the voice of the workers. The sole existence of any union is...