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The Labor Unions Unions have become commonplace in the labor arena. They provide employees with a valuable tool that allows them to stand together against their employer to make sure that their rights are upheld in the workplace. This paper will focus on labor unions with regards to how they work in two very different companies, Ford Motor Company and United Airlines. Also, a brief history will be outlined as well as legislation regarding unions. Many unions are at battle with their respected employers.
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When in comes to labor costs, the corporation and the worker usually have very different goals. The corporation wants to pay the worker as little as possible, while maintaining the productivity and quality required by its customers. The worker, on the other hand, seeks to increase his or her personal wealth by demanding the highest possible wages and benefits. Because of this somewhat adversarial relationship, corporations and labor have developed strategies to strengthen their positions. One of Labor's main defenses is to organize in unions.
The rise of capitalism as the dominant economic system in the United States made the rise of unions inevitable; given the natural division between those with capital that control the means of production, and labor, who is treated simply as another factor of production (Hodson & Sullivan, 2008). While labor unions have made significant improvements to the working environment, with the regulation of safety, environment, labor and wage; labor unions have also contributed to the decline of U.S. dominance in industries like steel, automotive, education and airlines. In today’s global economy, can labor unions continue to be a force for good in the United States, or have they become harmful institutions? Since the birth of the country, labor unions have played a critical role in the struggle between capital and labor. In the 19th century, with the increasing shift from agriculture to industrial work, conditions for workers deteriorated, as workers “lived in slum tenements owned by the company, were paid in scrip, which they could use only at company stores, and were evicted if their work was unsatisfactory” (Zinn, 2003, p. 245).
Labor Unions soon became a nuisance to big business employers in the 18th century because of the constant threat they became to employers. Especially because the accumulating number of Unionist in the United States has become empowering over employers. Most union laborers came from other countries to the United States as indentured servants or slaves. Individuals, who soon became tired of low pay, lack of benefits and unsafe working environments. There are many types of union organizations, for instance business unions; focus their attention on protecting workers economic welfare by collective bargaining.
Trade unions moved from being virtually outlawed by the US Government to being the beneficiaries of their legal protection. Morgan Reynolds tells us, in his Power and Privilege, " the common definition of Labor Union in the American dictionaries is an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working cond... ... middle of paper ... ...evidenced by the maltreatment of much of the management work forces of the downsized corporations. Because of the lack of solidarity and representation, much of the management work force of such companies as NYNEX, IBM and others have been thrown to the wolves after long tenures of service. Unions provide a means of checking the uncontrolled power of large corporations. This is not a one way street, though.