The General Function Of Unions

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Unionization has undoubtedly improved that working conditions of the American worker. Although modern sentiment towards contemporary labor unions is mixed, it is generally accepted that the labor unions of the past served an important purpose. The unions were strengthened after the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was passed, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was implemented to enforce the NLRA (Kubasek, Brennan, & Browne, 2015, p. 520). However, the NLRB is also responsible for enforcing fair work practices regardless of union affiliation. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the general function of unions in addition to how the NLRB affects the business climate with some analysis coming from specific case law. Labor Unions Coal mining is an inherently dangerous job. Mine shaft collapses, black lung, and muscle strains are among many of the risks that a coal miner is exposed to, and before unions, many people mined for coal with little to no recompense. Some coal companies paid workers with company currency that was intended to be spent at company owned shops on company owned land. The problem with this is that the wages a miner had earned could not be transferred to other places in the US, therefore subjecting miners to indentured servitude. Before unions, those coal miners had no ability to bargain for actual cash wages, improved working conditions (i.e. mine shoring), or insurance against being hurt on the job. However, the act of unionizing came about to reverse those injustices. The purpose of unions is to “negotiate a contract with their employer for things like a fair and safe workplace, better wages, a secure retirement and family-friendly policies such as paid sick leave and scheduling hours” (Ameri... ... middle of paper ... ...tions Much of the initial focus of this paper was on the discussion of individuals being protected from unfair labor practices. Sometimes it is instructive to discuss perceived unfair labor practices (as in the case of JT 's) to demonstrate that some terminations are justified. It further goes to demonstrate that there are true injustices that employees face at work, and protections offered by the NLRB should continue to focus on righting those injustices instead of being a sounding post for employee grievances. Conclusion Through the NLRA, unions were given the legal ability to carve out better work environments for employees. The goals of the NLRA and unions are kindred, and the enforcement arm of the NLRA (the NLRB) protects individual employees in much the same way that unions do. The guarantee of fair work practices is a noble pursuit, and the NLRB protects it.

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