What Is the Main Function of a Labor Union?

May 17, 2023

Before the 18th century, workers were not entitled to vacation, hygiene was nonexistent, and there was no minimum wage. However, in 1968, journeymen tailors decided to protest a wage reduction in what is now known as the first strike in America’s history. In 1974, shoemakers in Philadelphia formed the Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers, which stands as the beginning of organized trade union organizations. 

What started as a way to protect workers in the industrial sector quickly led to an ideological movement that changed the way we see labor and human rights. The early labor movement not only sought to create a just society based on the principles of the American Revolution, but also to achieve equality and economic growth. 

The labor movement fought hard for better working conditions, wages, and benefits that we now take for granted. From the eight-hour workday to minimum wage, it's hard to imagine what the workplace would be like without the efforts of labor unions. Besides, labor unions fought hard to represent minorities in a context where women, foreigners, and black workers were often excluded from the union nomination and election process.

What Is the Main Function of a Labor Union?

Understanding the importance and functionality of labor unions is essential for any worker. After all, when it comes to fair wages, acceptable working conditions, and job security, labor unions can make a world of difference. 

Labor unions are organizations made up of workers who join together to collectively fight to improve the lives of their members. Essentially, they act as a unified front to negotiate with employers and make sure that workers' rights are protected. Without labor unions, workers would be at the mercy of their employers, with little to no say in their decisions. By joining together, workers can demand fair treatment and ensure that their voices are heard.

What Are the Types of Labor Unions?

If you've ever wondered what the types of labor unions are, there are actually a few of them. 

  • Craft unions organize daily wage earners in a particular trade or craft, like plumbers or electricians. 
  • Industrial unions represent workers in a particular industry, regardless of their specific trade. They feature manual labor and skilled workers in sectors such as electricity or steel.
  • Public sector unions represent government employees. Each type has its own unique history, structure, and set of challenges, but they all share the common goal of improving working conditions and protecting workers' rights.
  • Federation is when many small or regional unions come together to form a federation, acting like a political entity. 

How the Election Process Takes Place

Unions are democratic entities, which means that their members are the ones who decide their representatives. The whole process starts with the primary elections, where the executive committee is elected. It is formed by a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary and it lasts for three years.

The leaders of the body represent the committee at a national level, and feature an elected president. This national executive is usually elected at the Annual General Meeting. While most voting processes are held at polling places, many unions are now using online voting systems. This speeds up the process while ensuring anonymity. If you are wondering how electronic voting works, it actually functions like any other type of election process, but with an electronic voting machine that records the votes.

In Conclusion

Labor unions are powerful organizations that advocate for the rights of workers. From their early roots in the Industrial Revolution to modern day, they have been a part of history and constitute the backbone of the labor laws that we have today. To learn more about streamlining your labor union’s conception or practices, ElectionBuddy is ready to help!

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