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What Are the Three Functions of a Union?

May 8, 2023

Organized labor has been an integral part of the American workforce for many, many years. Unions are groups of workers in various industries and professionals who come together to make sure their collective interests and rights are represented and protected. Union boards are composed of members selected through union election voting. 

One of the primary responsibilities of unions is to engage in collective bargaining with employers to secure better pay, benefits, and working conditions for their members. Nevertheless, unions perform several other vital functions in addition to collective bargaining. 

In this post, we will investigate three significant roles unions play and their relevance in promoting a fair workplace for American workers.

What Is a Trade Union?

A labor union is an association of workers that represents employees in a particular field or vocation. The main aim of a labor union is to safeguard and enhance the privileges and well-being of its members by collectively bargaining with management.

Labor unions are usually established when workers want the issues and problems connected to their jobs resolved. When a union is formed, it negotiates with employers to create collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that outline the terms and conditions of work for unionized workers. A CBA typically includes provisions regarding compensation, benefits, labor conditions, and job protection.

In addition to negotiations, labor unions offer other services and benefits to their members, such as legal counsel in employment disputes, access to instruction and training, and collective bargaining muscle. They can also aid in guarding laborers against inequitable treatment or bias on the job.

Labor unions are present in many sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, construction, and transportation. Although the number of union members has dwindled since the 1980s, labor unions remain pivotal in championing laborers' rights and improving working environments for employees across America. 

Major Roles of Unions

Labor unions advocate for their members and enhance their labor circumstances, compensation, and benefits. They negotiate with employers to create collective bargaining agreements that delineate the terms and conditions for workers. 

The following are the three primary roles of a labor union:

Boost Teamwork and Satisfaction Among Workers

Many business practices are complicated and require that their workers have certain levels of expertise. This can lead to a substantial division of labor, which results in dissatisfaction in the workplace, off-putting hierarchies of authority, and little interest in the goals of the company. 

Under these circumstances, when labor unions enter the scene, they encourage teamwork and cohesiveness among the laborers. Moreover, labor unions deliberate over issues that are important to all laborers. They are the vehicle for workers to unite and strengthen their sense of comradery.

Build Rapport Between Labor and Employers

In the current economy, some industries have grown enormously. A single company can employ hundreds of laborers, and workers may not have the opportunity to meet their supervisors directly. Consequently, laborers are unable to voice their concerns before their employers, and their management is ignorant of the challenges faced by their workers.

Labor unions play a significant role in presenting employers with the issues and grievances of employees. They attempt to facilitate face-to-face meetings and establish connections between employees and employers.

Secure Benefits for Workers

In some industries, workers are subject to being exploited. They may not get paid for the work they do, receive sick leave, work in unsafe conditions, etc. Even if they work for the same company for years, many are still not in permanent positions and could be dismissed without notice. Trade unions offer a safety net for employees during such times.

Union Elections

Voting allows union members to choose their leaders through a democratic process. This selection process is vital to the union's operation since it determines who will represent the members in negotiations with employers. 

Union voting occurs on a regular basis, allowing members to choose their desired candidates. The use of secret ballots maintains member privacy during the voting process. Elected leaders are accountable for achieving the union's objectives and safeguarding members' welfare. Union election voting is essential to maintain the integrity of the democratic decision-making process of a union.

Labor Unions and You

Labor unions have a critical responsibility in safeguarding the well-being of American workers. Collective bargaining is a primary role of labor unions, but they also handle other significant functions including encouraging camaraderie and satisfaction among workers, facilitating positive relationships between the labor force and employers, and providing a safety net for workers.
Looking for information on how much of the U.S. workforce is unionized and what types of labor unions there are? We’ve got you covered–check out our recent articles!

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