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Future of Labor Unions

For many years, labor union movements have been known to champion and fight for the rights of the workers in different sectors of the economy. Through labor unions, most of those who were oppressed and their voices could not be heard had chances to air their grievances and their cases listened. It appears that the primary role of the labor unions has always been to bargain for better pay of the workers as well as other concessions. The labor unions in US and the government have never had a good relationship; hence any involvement by the government in labor affairs has been viewed with a lot of suspicions.

Because of this suspicion, the labor unions would prefer to keep the government out of its activities as much as possible. Many changes have occurred in the labor markets that have forced the unions to change their mode of operation and basically declining (Turner, 1993). Changes in Labor Markets That Have Affected Unions Globalization has brought a very different angle in the labor market forcing the labor unions to rethink of their objectives and strategies. Globalization has made the world to be recognized as a global village meaning the labor unions have to change their old tactics of operation.

There have been changes in work reorganization which has led to the influence of labor unions to decline in many parts of the country. Many managers who are opposed to the labor union movements have come up with stringent measures that puts work force into participation, and where there seems to be still a lot of unions’ involvement, the managers seeks to have different cooperation with the unions (Turner, 1993). However, it has to be understood that it is difficult for the management to have everything on their side, i.

e. a union that cooperates and one that are at loggerheads. For this reason, some managers have gone to the level whereby they avoid a stalemate relationship with the unions, but rather have an incorporative union where workers are not subdued but are rather made to participate in the affairs of the organization, and not to have a situation that only indicates some humanitarian issues within the organization, but rather a situation where there is complete avoidance of authoritarianism in the management.

Unions have taken up the move to push for change and reorganization of work within the organization. It has reached a situation where by unions are forced to trade off measures that would put in place equal working conditions so that in return they get new-decision making rights. Trade offs is worth only if subordinate unions can be avoided, which is a really tricky affair. The best way is to come up with a labor union that is cohesive, and this is also a difficult position (Turner, 1993).

Unions have been affected by the by internal and external politics, which means the union leaders in the present and future should embrace themselves with ways of dealing with the obstacles of engaging the management in building a cohesive working environment. If the union leaders can be able to ensure that a cohesive relationship has been attained, then it can be possible to have more cohesive unions that will avoid and reverse the decline in unions which is currently being experienced.

Due to globalization that has seen increased international competition, many unions are looking for the ways of surviving thus making positive contributions in many labor aspects thus are more flexible in the mode in which they operate, such that instead of operating in a passive form, they make positive contributions to various aspects of labor. These kinds of actions are aimed at making the management to allow unions to have increased sayings in decisions made by the management.

In the meantime, unions do not have many choices but either to participate in the decision making with the management or continue to see their influence increasingly decline, and pose a danger of the unions completely dying or only ending up being representatives of a small group. This implies that the unions have to give up the traditional notion that when a union gets closer with the management, it looses its autonomy and independence. Of course several unions in US have increased their activities in participation with management (Regini, 1994).

In most cases, unions have been considered to be solving problems that exist between the normal citizens and those considered to be people of a certain class and extending this fight to the workplace. However, due to the management involvement in the labor activities, it has reached a point where there are many conflicts that have resulted to counterproductive matters leaving the workers with low morale. The idea of integrating the union in the management decisions can help in averting this situation in which employees’ morale can be raised and the rights of the citizens observed at the workplace.

If the trade unions are not going to be countervailing, then there are high chances that the traditional authoritarian management might slowly find their ways back in the organizations. Trade unions have played a very vital role in creating and increasing democratic space in the political arena. Through labor unions, those who did not have political parties’ ties had their voices heard. Therefore, as the labor unions number reduces and their influence drop, it means their political influence declines as well.

The implication of this is that it might end up leaving a large group of people with common interests not getting a better hearing and representation. In essence, as the unions decline, this is not only an economic or industrial issue but it is also a political issue. In case the decline of labor unions have large impact on the political representation, then it is important that such a case should be reversed through reforming political institutions. In the contemporary society, it is imperative that the unions be strong and on the other hand collaborative.

This looks however a paradox but it is the best way to ensure that the unions do not decline and remain vibrant in political, social and economic aspects in the society (Regini, 1994). Looking back and considering the bloody strikes that workers experienced, it clearly shows the conflict that existed between them and the owners of the business firms. The owners of the firms also colluded with the political class to ensure that labor unions were not so much involved in the elections as a way of curbing and oppressing them.

This implied that the unions had to fight for the workers’ rights at the industrial and political levels. Labor unions were divided such that there were unions for the skilled and for the unskilled labor, which was again basically politically motivated. The skilled labor unions came to be recognized and this gave room for the radical leadership to emerge, while the unskilled labor unions received a lot of resistance especially from those in authority who scuttled all the efforts that would have led to the unions becoming more organized.

In many aspects, the skilled labor unions made sure that their unions were recognized more than the unskilled labor unions. The skilled labor unions ensured that they negotiate with the management for better pay which did put them at a better payment package than the unskilled labor. In some instances, the skilled labor unions took measures to see that the unskilled labor unions become unionized. There are various occasions in which tension could be found to generate between the unions of the skilled and the unskilled labor. However, at some occasions, the skilled labor unions fought to form a broader union for all workers.

The skilled workers unions in the united states mostly consisted of the native born whites or the whites who had migrated to US long time ago, while unions for unskilled comprised mostly those who had recently migrated, the women, blacks and other minority groups. Looking at the composition of these groups, it is obvious how difficult it could have been to come up with a solid union movement (Regini, 1994). Of late, Labor unions in America have become weak and declined basically because of lacking a strong system or party that connects them to the main political system in the country.

Due to the changes in the economic situations experienced globally, the traditional operations of the labor unions have changed forcing them to weaken and decline even further. The effect of this is that it has made the unions to have little say in the political arenas. The labor unions bargaining power has been weakened by the fact that there are many unfavorable economic situations facing the world currently, and due to the fact that the government has taken up the initiatives to have strategic management policies that looks at the macroeconomic levels.

Employers on the other hand have taken up different approaches to have peace with the labor unions, leading to decline in strikes among the labor unions. The labor markets have also witnessed cases of labor segmentation where by the markets are witnessing operations in many different forms of employment which are basically not standardized (for instance, increased number of people who work on part time or temporary basis). Furthermore, policies are becoming very flexible.

In addition, labor markets have become internationalized which has greatly led to the labor force becoming more divided. The internalization of labor force has also acted as an obstacle to coming up with labor organizations with collective efforts (Regini, 1994). Many labor unions were formed by the white color workers and the private sector. This lot is slowly shrunk and was replaced by many employees in the manufacturing and service sectors. These changes in the employment sectors have played a crucial role in changing the labor union representations and strength.

Looking at for instance the manufacturing sector, the labor unions struggled for the better working conditions for employees, and since the technology has been moving towards improving the machineries in most industries, it has seen many unskilled employees who were represented loosing their jobs to a few skilled employees. The employees who have lost their jobs are basically the ones who held the unions together and as they lost jobs, it really contributed to the weakening of the labor unions.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the government incorporated labor unions in coming up with macroeconomic policies. Because of this acknowledgment by the government, the labor unions attracted a large number of employees who adhered to the policies of the unions (Bacon, 2005). However, because of the changes in the political climate; the unions have lost the outlook representations they enjoyed. Many social, political and economic environments are changing very fast while the objectives of the labor unions have still remained traditional.

To make unions work, the employees have to make hard decisions for the sake of the future. In the past years, it was difficult to join a labor organization and at times, it was illegal. This meant workers who joined the union in such a period put their lives in danger. Although within the labor union different people had different opinions, they all aimed at gaining political power for the poor and alleviate poverty and eradicate discrimination (Bacon, 2005).

With the current unions, it is not easy to find the unions that are really concerned with the consciousness of the workers. The past union witnessed cases where workers had to organize themselves to act for the better course of the union, rather than having to wait for the action to be masterminded and operated with workers who are better paid than those they represent. Conclusion Labor unions in the past years were driven by strong motives by members such that ideas had a strong way of transforming the society.

This meant that the union members did not just fight to benefit their short needs, but were basically concerned with the welfare of their future generations. However, this notion does not seem to exist in the current labor unions, which leaves many questions on whether the labor unions would be able to fulfill their roles in future. Therefore, for labor unions to be vibrant and stop the currently increased decline of their numbers there has to be members who can tackle the radical ideas and the economic and political situations taking place in the global world.

If this cannot be achieved, it is possible that the unions might end up loosing meaning and dying completely. Reference: Bacon, D. (2005). Labor Needs a Radical Vision, Monthly Review, Vol. 57, No. 2, retrieved on 16th February 2009 from, http://monthlyreview. org/0605bacon. htm. Regini, M (1994). The Future of Labour Movements ISBN 0803979770; SAGE. Turner, L (1993). Democracy at Work: Changing World Markets and the Future of Labor Unions, ISBN 080148118X; Cornell University Press.

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