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Labor Unions in the U.S. and Abroad Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 9th, 2021

An organization of workers or employees is generally referred as a trade union or a labor union in almost every country of the globe. A number of experts have observed that union members generally have a leader, which is known as a union leader. In some companies, trade unions are headed by a number of influencing employees that pilot the demands and rights of the employees in front of the employers of particular company. In some countries, labor contracts are an important part of the objectives of the trade unions, as these contracts are discussed during the negotiations by the union leaders with the employers, and thus, play a vital role in the development of their lives.

Specifically, wages, remuneration, work rules, working schedules, selection and recruitment of employees, and a number of similar objectives are some of the considerations in the negotiation process that is one of the administering responsibilities of the trade unions. Nowadays, workplace safety has become an innovative and important objective of the trade unions around the world due to the awareness by a number of organizations, such as United Nations, International Labor Organization, etc.

It is an observation that a right of exclusivity is the claim by most of the labor unions around the world. In addition, previous statistics and records have indicated that not every employee can be the member of a trade union. It depends on the leader or leaders of a trade union to determine the membership of an employee in their labor union. In addition, certain jobs come under the special provision of the members of labor union in some parts of the world, which has been discouraged by the employer community of the globe.

Furthermore, a labor union is considered and given more importance, as compared to the employer. For instance, if the performance of a labor union were not satisfactory for the employer, another labor union would not consider getting employment by the employer. In the result, labor unions play an important role in the development, success, and advancement of a company, its employees, as well as, its employers (Northrup, 2004). Thus, it has been noted that employers try their best to satisfy and fulfill the demands of trade unions, which can sometimes, be very difficult due to the silly and expensive demands of the labor unions (Dark, 2001).

Until now, the paper has tried to define and describe the basic formation and purpose of a labor or trade union. A number of experts and professionals have considered specific objectives of these unions that may vary, but are similar in their purpose. For instance, the conditions of the employment of employees are generally considered as one of the basic and important objectives by almost every labor union around the world. Secondly, it is an observation that demands are put forward by the labor unions for the benefit of their union members. In this regard, old age, retirement, ill health, and a number of expenses are deemed at the time of provision of benefits to their members after the negotiation with their employers.

When the employers recognize a labor union and open-operation is in process, wages becomes an important part of negotiations by the union members, or the union leaders, if it may not majority of the union members may not accept it. In the past, it is an observation that strong and fit union workers used to be union leaders, and used to ill-treat their members after getting the benefits from the employers (Marot, 1990). However, this practice confronted discouragement, and almost eliminated in most parts of the world. For instance, labor unions in the United States practice the policies of labor unions in an ethical manner, which has resulted in their due recognition from the employers’ community.

Nowadays, numerous industries have recognized labor unions as official representatives of employees in the United States. However, this practice has been very strong in the public sector, as compared to the private sector. For example, labor unions of the policy or the teachers have stronger strength, as well as, policies, as compared to the labor unions of private companies (Fink, 1977). In the United States, collective bargaining on salary has been one of the major objectives of the labor unions. Working conditions have become one of the main priorities of these labor unions in most parts of the country, especially in the urban areas of the country (Peterson, 1963).

A number of related experts’ observations identified that if contract provisions are violated, labor unions provides a stronger confrontation to them that is sometimes, cannot be controlled by the management of companies. The period of 1950s has been the peak of the membership of labor unions in the country. Politically, labor unions play an important role in the collection of vote bank from different parts of the world (Sisya, 2000) it is similar to the like-minded activist organizations are merged with the labor unions, in order to collect higher number of vote banks at the time of elections (Roth, 2003). Thus, labor unions play a crucial role in the success and prosperity of a political organization or party in the United States (Goldberg, 1956).

The late 18th century is the era of formation of first labor unions in the United States. However, first federation of labor union in the United States came into existence after the Civil War (Chamberlin, 1958). Today, some of the larger umbrella organizations have taken smaller labor unions under their platform. In this regard, AFL-CIO, CWF, etc. are some of the larger organizations that are into collaboration with most of the unions in the United States. Policies, legislations, etc. are supported by the abovementioned organizations, and employees throughout the country receive favor. In addition, it is indicated that active role by these organizations in the political conditions of the country is a matter of pride. In the United States, the labor unions are providing due significance to the global trade issues (Goldberg, 1956).

In the United States, the term jurisdiction is used by the labor unions for the referral of representation of their union members for the employment of a specific work. For instance, a specific area is assigned for a specific labor union, and only the members of that labor union would be allowed to work in the assigned area (Sims, 1971). This practice has resulted in a number of violent incidents due to the crossing of area borders by the members of different labor unions.

Until now, the paper has discussed the basic term, labor union, its objectives, history, its particular role in the United States, and different sectors are related with the existence of labor unions in the country. Now, the paper will briefly discuss the role of labor unions in one of the Asian, as well as, a European country, in order to compare their roles with the labor unions in the United States.

In the Japan, labor unions of Japan are represented by three main labor federations. The division is on the bases of the number of memberships in these alliances. Firstly, the National Federation of Private Sector Union comprises of more than six million members or employees in the Japan (Hsu, 1999). It is followed by the National Confederation of Trade Unions that has approximately 0.8 million members around the country. Thirdly, the National Trade Unions Council has around 0.1 million members form different smaller labor unions. Thus, these three federations administer and control the working of smaller labor unions, which is quite diverse from the practice of labor unions in the United States (Shinbunsha, 1954).

However, the policies are not created by the federations in Japan, and local unions have this responsibility in the consideration of their major objectives. The federations play the role of facilitators between the employers and the unions. During the wealthy times, dances, banners, and celebrations are a part of labor unions in the Japan. On the other hand, occurrence of strikes is an observation of experts in Japan that is organizing by the federations on collective bases (Shinbunsha, 1954). Thus, the federations in Japan administer and facilitate a lot of work of labor unions.

Presently, Japanese labor unions are going through a period of crises in the country, as new reforms have been introduced by the employer community, which have not been accepted by most of the labor unions in the country. However, the abovementioned three federations are playing a crucial role in the stabilization of the labor unions and their development. The Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training is another major organization that has contributed a lot in the present era of the Japanese economy, as well as, in the advancement of labor unions in the country.

Now, the paper will discuss the role of labor unions in the United Kingdom, which will provide the understanding of labor unions in the European continent. In the year 1867, a Royal Commission had established the legal status of labor or trade unions in the United Kingdom. Socio-economic status of the employees is the major objective of the trade unions in the United Kingdom (Lichtenstein, 2002). Moreover, Labor Party is considered the major umbrella platform that has gathered most of the unions in the country (Roosblad, 2000).

In the 1980s, power of the trade unions was a weakness of the government of that time. Moreover, government of Tony Blair also received criticism by most of the trade unions due to the restrictions of 1980s by his government, which was against the demands of the trade unions in the country (Shaw, 1968). The Traders Union Congress comprises of almost every trade union in the United Kingdom (Campbell, 1992). Moreover, national trade union centres of the country are Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Scottish Congress of Trade Unions. Office workers or shop workers are the majority of union members in the United Kingdom, which is quite similar to the United States, and dissimilar to the Japan.

Moreover, a number of steps have been taken by the United Kingdom’s government in order to advance the labor unions in the country. For instance, National trade union organization has been established that plays a crucial role in the management and administration of the employees in the United Kingdom. In addition, Department of Trade and Industry is another organization that has contributed for the international trading in the United Kingdom. A number of opportunities have been provided to the labor unions by this organization. Different legislations have been introduced by the UK government that has been appreciated by the labor unions in the country. For instance, Employment Relations Act 2004 is an example of appreciated legislation for the trade unions in the United Kingdom.

Conclusively, the paper has described and defined the term of labor union. Its history has been briefly discussed, and the role of labor unions in the United States was explained in detail. Moreover, their hardships and objectives were also discussed in the paper. Lastly, labor unions of Japan, as well as, the United Kingdom, and their roles were discussed and compared with the United States. We hope that this paper will help the students, professionals, and experts in the better understanding of labor unions.

References

  1. Arthur J. Goldberg. (1956) AFL-CIO: Labor United. McGraw-Hill.
  2. Asahi Shinbunsha. (1954) Japan Quarterly. Asahi Shinbun.
  3. Carolyn Sims. (1971) Labor Unions in the United States. F. Watts.
  4. Edward Chamberlin. (1958) Labor Unions and Public Policy. American Enterprise Association.
  5. Florence Peterson. (1963) American Labor Unions. Harper & Row.
  6. Frank D. Sisya. (2000) The Political Life of a Public Employee Labor Union. Edwin Mellen Press.
  7. Gary M. Fink. (1977) Labor Unions. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  8. Helet Marot. (1990) American Labor Unions. Adamant Media Corporation.
  9. Herbert Roof Northrup. (2004) Labor Union Tactics. Public Service Research Foundation.
  10. Joan Campbell. (1992) European Labor Unions. Greenwood Press.
  11. Judith Roosblad. (2000) Trade Unions, Immigration, and Immigrants in Europe. Springer.
  12. Nelson Lichtenstein. (2002) State of the Union. Princeton University Press.
  13. Robert C. Hsu. (1999) The MIT Encyclopedia of the Japanese Economy. MIT Press.
  14. Shaw. (1968) Labor Relations and the Law in the United Kingdom and the United States. University of Michigan Press.
  15. Silke Roth. (2003) Building Movement Bridges. Greenwood.
  16. Taylor E. Dark. (2001) The Unions and the Democrats. Cornell University Press.
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IvyPanda. 2021. "Labor Unions in the U.S. and Abroad." September 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/labor-unions-in-the-us-and-abroad/.

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