1.) Labor unions have existed in the United States since the birth of the country, tracing their origins back to the 18th-century Industrial Revolution in Europe.

1.) Labor unions have existed in the United States since the birth of the country, tracing their origins back to the 18th-century Industrial Revolution in Europe.

1.) Labor unions have existed in the United States since the birth of the country, tracing their origins back to the 18th-century Industrial Revolution in Europe. Labor unions have the goal of both obtaining pay and working conditions that satisfy their members within. They also want to give their members a voice in decisions that are directly affecting them. Traditionally, they obtain these goals by gaining power in numbers. The more workers who belong to a union, the greater the union’s power. More members translates into greater ability to halt or disrupt production. Specific statistics show the advantages workers in unions have over non unionized workers. Workers with strong unions have been able to set industry standards for wages and benefits that help all workers, both union and non unionized. I am of the opinion that when employees are in a better work environment/condition and get paid a good salary, perform better at their job. The disadvantage would be that the dissatisfaction can lead to high turnover and unemployment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored both the importance of unions in giving workers a collective voice in the workplace and the urgent need to reform U.S. Even though it may seem as if it is difficult or a hassle it becomes worth it at the end. Me personally, I am not in a union, but if given the opportunity to do so at my job I definitely would take advantage and jump on it!

2.) The dynamic for workers shifted greatly over the course of the late 19th and early 20th century. In the early 1900’s workers had very few rights. Child labor was common, and worker safety was not a concern for employers. However, after Upton Sinclair published The Jungle in 1906 and the tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911, the tide began to turn in favor of workers. Labor unions play an instrumental role in these changes. They helped to sway public opinion by exposing the exploitation of workers. They also helped to bring together large groups of people who were powerless and poor. As individuals,  these people did not have the influence or resources to fight against wealthy employers.

I have never joined a union. I work in construction management and its not an option for me.  My father was a union member, and the benefits were immeasurable.  We had access to top medical and dental benefits at reasonable prices. He was compensated for time worked and given enough paid vacation to rest and have family time. For having a blue collar job, my dad was able to provide a middle class life for our family. The down side of unions is people abuse the protections and don’t put in their best effort at work. They use the union as a cover for their antics and companies are stuck with an underperforming worker. It takes only a few bad workers to soil the image of an entire union. I feel if they are using their influence correctly, unions are a valuable and positive institution, but workers should never be forced to join.

3.) To think that weekends off, maternity leave, and workers compensation as well as many other things started with unions is something we often do not consider. These basic things that have become a societal standard are things that we take for granted. My perception of unions before I learned about them were that they were established to be there for the “little guy.” They were meant to advocate for those who felt like they did not have a voice. While I am still undecided on if I will join a union, I can see the benefits that they have provided. These labor unions have been essential in creating a better work environment and establishing better policies to create a happier and more balanced workforce. Unions are advocates for workforce equality and jump at any effort to make the work environment better for their members. I have worked for a rather large company and I would see fliers posted all over for different types of unions. While I can see the pros of unions such as establishing these policies, I can also see the cons of unions such as focusing their efforts in the wrong places much like the Labor Secretary said about focusing on the past instead of propelling into the future. Another con to the union is their efforts toward raising the minimum wage. If you raise the minimum wage, this often leaves companies unable to staff as many employees leaving more people in the unemployment line. It is much like the principle that every action has a reaction and while it the ability to get paid way above minimum wage is great for some, it is going to be detrimental to others leaving them without a job.

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