7 Reasons You Should Join a Union
For men and women who plan on entering the job market as non-professionals -- who see themselves more as blue-collar "workers" than as white-collar "careerists" -- here are seven practical reasons why they should consider being represented by a labor union.
1. Money. Generally speaking, union jobs pay significantly more than non-union jobs. You want to be part of the American middle-class? Join a union. From top to bottom, industry to industry, region to region, union wages are going to be roughly 10-20 percent higher than non-union wages. Which is why companies resist them; they don't want to pay one dime more than they have to.
Of course, anti-labor propaganda suggests that it's a trade-off, that the additional pay will be eaten up by monthly union dues. That's a lie. Depending on the industry, union dues average about $60 a month, which is $600-$720 a year. And $720 isn't 15 percent of any union worker's income... unless they happen to live in Guatemala and earn $4,800 a year, which is less than half the U.S. federal minimum wage. The argument is absurd.
2. Benefits. Pensions, medical insurance, paid vacation, holidays, personal holidays, sick pay, overtime premiums, shift differential, etc, are generally not only better in a union shop, many of these goodies don't even exist without a union contract. It's another reason companies resist being unionized.
3. Safety. Union facilities are safer than non-union facilities. Anti-labor folks can talk all they like about OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) being the "great equalizer," but it's not true. Even before it was ravaged by eight years of Bush administration neglect, OSHA was remote, understaffed and over-extended. A union contract gives employees the immediate right to address an unsafe condition. There's no comparison. Union facilities are far safer.
4. Dignity. As a union worker you'll see fewer moody and dictatorial bosses. While you can still (rightly) be fired for job performance, you don't have to tip-toe around in fear of being harassed or terrorized. Also, ironically, because administering a contract requires a higher level of competence, you'll find more efficient bosses in a union shop. Instead of flitting about making questionable, off-the-cuff decisions, they're forced to behave like "professionals."
5. Security. Bosses can't just walk up and fire you because they want to give your job to their wife's nephew. Nor can they lay you off out of sequence, demote you arbitrarily, or prevent you, without sufficient cause, from promoting to the next higher job. African Americans and women didn't get their shot at big-time manufacturing jobs until labor unions gave it to them, a fact that doesn't receive enough recognition.
6. Competence. Union workers tend to be better workers than their non-union counterparts. Before you vehemently object, just take a moment to consider the dynamics. Which job in a community is going to attract the higher caliber worker -- the one offering decent wages, good benefits and exemplary working conditions? Or the one with low pay, lousy benefits and no air-conditioning?
7. Activism. You have the opportunity to become a shop steward and represent your fellow workers. Being chosen steward is no glorified popularity contest -- not like being elected class president or homecoming queen. Indeed, people on the floor are going to pick a person they deem best qualified to represent their interests. And as a union official whose authority is recognized by federal labor law, you will forever be a footnote in the history of the American labor movement. How cool is that?
David Macaray, an LA playwright and author ("It's Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor"), was a former union rep. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample Persuasive Essay on Unions
It is very important for people working in a large organization to have and be part of a union. A labor union is defined as a collection of workers who come together to meet common goals and practices. It is good to be in a union because the workers belonging to a union can collectively bargain with their employers. Collective bargaining is one of the most important aspects for any union, be it in sports, or any other labor pool. This provision allows the employees to ask for their rights in a collective manner, that is in the form of unions. Employee involvement, if appropriately structured, generally improves the economic productivity of the firm. This is why the workers feel a duty for collective bargaining as it provides them with a strong collective voice. Many of the workers have also expressed a preference for representation through an employee organization that interacts with management in a non-adversarial manner.
Unions allow the workers to ask for their legitimate rights. Unions can enforce job security standard in a relatively expeditious and inexpensive arbitration forum. Unions can contest disparate treatment, where a person claims that he/she is being less favored than others are. Many collective bargaining please are also because of disparate impact, which means that the person is being discriminated against even thought the company's policies on the face do not show any discriminatory patterns. This is why it is extremely important for workers to be part of a union because a worker alone might face many problems but these problems can be resolved if the worker was part of a union. Also, many employers would find it much of a hassle to confront a union, while making one person the blunt of authority is much easier.
Being in a union has many advantages. If you were to take a look at history, a lot has changed and much has been developed in the area of wages and welfare work. The US government enacted the Social Security Act in 1935 and this was the first time where workers' consideration was taken into account. Throughout the times that followed, many more things were developed in providing better wages and wage-alternatives to the workers (Henretta & O'Rand 138). This was all possible because of the interaction between the management and the unions. It is highly unlikely that a single worker could have worked to have these laws implemented. However, it were the unions that were able to bargain with the management and able to provide such wage benefits as fringe benefits. Fringe benefits, also known as employee benefits, perquisites, or perks, are provided to many employees by their organizations. Many new organizations provide some extra benefits to the employees in order to give them more incentive to work. These benefits can include anything from basic medical and dental coverage to extremely lavish company-paid vacations. These packages were developed through management-union agreements that came about because of the government's taxation and social insurance policies
So, we see that unions are very important for employees. They not only help in raising the workers wages but also help in reducing wage inequality amongst the workers. Unions also end up helping the employees who are not unionized and this means that “the impact of unions on total nonunion wages is almost as large as the impact on total union wages. “The most sweeping advantage for unionized workers is in fringe benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their nonunionized counterparts to receive paid leave, are approximately 18% to 28% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 23% to 54% more likely to be in employer-provided pension plans” (Mishel and Walters).
Henretta, J.C., & A. M. O'Rand., Age and Inequality: Diverse Pathways through Later Life. Westview Press: Boulder, CO. 1999
Mishel, L. and M. Walters, “How Unions Help All Workers,” EPI Briefing Paper #143, 2003. Available online: http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/briefingpapers_bp143