What Are the Effects of Unionization?

October 23, 2023

Perhaps your colleagues are discussing unionizing and looking for ways to file for a union election, or maybe you’re hearing about petitions and support cards, but you aren’t sure what establishing a union means or what it can do for employees. 

Starting and maintaining an active, engaged union is easier now than ever before. With advances in technology, you can now conduct online union votes to make member participation more streamlined. But just because there are tools and resources available doesn’t mean you feel confident about joining a union.

In this article, we’ll dive into what it means to join a union, including what union election petitions are and the benefits and pitfalls of joining a union.

What Is a Labor Union?

A labor union is an organization formed by workers in a particular trade, industry, or company to improve pay, benefits, and working conditions. They are also called:

  • Workers unions
  • Labor organizations
  • Trade unions

These unions are organized and run by qualified employees who do not make decisions about other employees or the terms of their employment. The entire process is run on the premise of democracy, relying on at least 30% of qualified employees to voice their support of a union in order for it to form. 

Union election petitions are when employers request an election to determine whether the group of employees will be or will continue to be represented by a particular labor party. Unions rely on elections to determine their viability as a union, elect officials to advocate for employees, and more.

Benefits of Labor Unions

Unions provide countless benefits to employees, including higher wages, better benefits, improved working conditions, and above all else, a voice on the job. Unions are a voice for employees, allowing their concerns and desires to be heard without fear of retaliation from employers. Union officials can advocate for:

  • Consistent schedules and no mandatory overtime
  • Flexible schedules, such as four-day work weeks or working from home
  • Paid vacation time that employees can take without feeling guilty or overwhelmed upon return
  • Wages and benefits that keep up with cost-of-living increases
  • Job training programs for career mobility
  • Student loan repayment and scholarships
  • Family-friendly work environments and paid time off to care for family members
  • Safer and more dignified workplaces

Unions do not protect under-performing workers, but they can make sure the hiring process is objective so that nepotism doesn’t play a role in the workplace. Unions can ensure employees are more satisfied and productive at work, which, in turn, can result in lower employee turnover rates and keeps trained professionals on the job.

Disadvantages of Labor Unions

While there are many benefits to joining a union, there are some downsides, as well. Before starting or joining a union, it’s important to consider how it can impact you financially, as well as the union’s impact on the work culture at your job.

The majority of criticisms towards labor unions stem from business leaders and employers themselves. Unions can create lengthy, bureaucratic processes when employees want to negotiate their rights or when employers want to enact change. This can prolong important processes where many employees may already agree with changes an employer hopes to enact, but the union needs to do its due diligence in negotiations.

Another downside is cost; labor unions charge dues to pay the salaries of union leaders and workers during strikes. These dues also pay for certain programs and resources, such as legal counsel in situations of wrongful termination, so that employees do not have to pay out-of-pocket to advocate for their rights. If you don’t need these services and resources, paying union dues may not be beneficial right away.

Another possible downside to labor unions is it becomes more difficult to terminate employment with unproductive employees. However, this could also be seen as employee protection in situations where issues with productivity are related to temporary circumstances or provide the employee with training needed to become a high-performer.

In Closing

Unions aim to provide a wide variety of benefits to qualified employees regarding safe working conditions, fair wages, and improved benefits, among others. Historically, employers have been critical of unions due to bureaucratic tendencies, and many members note that paying monthly dues to the union is a drawback. 

If you are interested in forming a union or improving your union-involvement, explore ElectionBuddy’s resources for union members today!

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