Some may say that unions have had their time, but now their time is done. Others say that unions are necessary for the safety of the modern worker. Unions were initially created so that workers could have fair wages and safe working conditions without compromise. Today, however, many see unions as a costly entity that drives up consumer prices. The modern union has some advantages, but there are some disadvantages to consider as well.
What Are the Pros of Unions?
1. They support worker’s rights.
Unions help to negotiate clearly defined terms that the employer and the worker must abide by. The goal is to create high levels of performance without compromising the safety or productivity of the worker. If an employer wants to cut wages, hours, or fire someone just because they don’t like the color of the shirt, the union can step in and help workers find a better compromise.
2. They provide a natural network of support.
People who have friends at work are naturally more productive. Unions bring co-workers together into a natural network where everyone can benefit from the skills that each person has so that a team can be more effective. Instead of being worried about the security of their job, workers can worry about doing a good job.
3. They help to provide legal resources.
Whether it is campaigning for certain political positions or defending an employee who may be disciplined by an employer for something they didn’t do, unions step up to the plate to make sure that their people have the adequate representation that is needed in most situations.
What Are the Cons of Unions?
1. They can be costly to everyone.
Workers who join a union typically pay a certain percentage of their salary as dues. Unions who represent public workers may negotiate contracts that may cost taxpayers additional money every year in some way. This means that from a financial standpoint, everyone but the union pays for their existence.
2. They don’t always serve the interests of the individual worker.
To the union, the overall group is more important sometimes than the individual worker. If a new contract is being negotiated, a union may tell an employee that they do not wish to pursue a grievance that has been filed, even if it is a legitimate issue, because it may weaken their bargaining position.
3. They sometimes protect the worst employees.
Some union contracts make it virtually impossible to fire an ineffective worker. A whole chain of events may need to take place to get rid of someone who is absolutely refusing to work and this takes time and can be costly for the business. In the meantime, every other worker is forced to pick up the slack.
Unions still provide some worker advantages, especially in certain industries. There are some disadvantages to consider as well, especially in regards to cost. By weighing all of the pros and cons, each community can decide if they want to promote the use of unions for their employment.