Unions and Labor Relations

Essay by eldonfieldsUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, August 2006

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Unions are the organization of employees for the purpose collective bargaining with employers. Labor relations is the management specialty emphasizing skills that managers and union leaders can use to minimize costly forms of conflict and to seek win-win solutions to disagreements (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2004, p.470). This paper will review labor relations, unions, and their effect on an organization.

An employment union is defined as organization of employees formed to bargain with an employer (Google, 2006). Unions began in the early 19th century and were at their strongest U.S. presence in the 1950's. Unions were at their strongest in the U.S. in the late 1950s, in the heyday of American worldwide economic dominance. From a peak of 35% of the workforce in the mid-1950s, union membership as a percentage of the total U.S. workforce has declined slowly, but steadily, to approximately 14% in the late 1990s (Domini, 2006).

Part of this decline is due to a secular downturn within the U.S. economy of the more heavily unionized industries, such as automobiles, integrated steel, and manufacturing, and a parallel growth in non-unionized sectors of the economy such as technology and financial services. At the same time, unions have had difficulties in attracting new members, particularly in industries where they have not previously had representation.

Labor relations involve three levels of decisions, labor relations strategy, negotiating contracts and administering contracts. Employees and employers seek win-win solutions to the negotiations. Unions begin their involvement with a company's employees by conducting an organizing campaign. The union will survey the employees and try to convince the majority of the workers to band together for better pay and benefits. Authorization cards will be distributed to the employees with the message about the union along with an invitation to sign the card. If 30 percent...