In both the public and private sectors, for industries that are at risk of organizing, management needs to recognize the importance of union-management collaboration. Each side wants the best for those they represent, but this often leads to an adversarial approach to negotiations. When both sides adopt a collaborative mindset, it clears the path to mutual success.
Every employer, and their workforce, must decide whether to maintain a union-free environment or to elect a union. Not “one size fits all.” If the workforce does not elect a union, then the employer-employee relationship remains as is. If an organization votes to adopt a union following an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the employer & union must follow all applicable laws.
Some of the Drawbacks of Labor Unions
- Union dues, and concerns with improper use of union dues
- Across the nation, union membership is down: we’re not a manufacturing economy any longer. We’re a service and knowledge economy
- Less autonomy
- Increased workplace tension, lower levels of employee engagement
- Focus on the longevity of employment versus merit-based compensation
- Concerns with unions as a political entities engaged in matters outside the employer-employee relationship
- Unions can make it difficult to get rid of poor performers
- Unions can require dues and fees that some workers don’t want to pay
Some of the Benefits of Labor Unions
- Higher wages & better benefits
- Greater job security
- Labor contracts allow employers to predict future wages & benefit related costs
- Formalized processes for dispute resolution
- Historically better track record of health & safety
- CBA’s focuses heavily on discipline and wages
- Collective negotiating power
- Longevity is rewarded
Labor unions thrive in some geographies & industries, and do not thrive in others. It’s hard to generalize about the pros and cons of unions because there are so many different unions and locals, and it’s up to each employer & their workforce to determine whether unions make sense or not for each employer.