Over the last few years, the labor unions have been changing progressively. Within the last five years, it is approximated that a third of the unions’ personnel have retired. To replace their vacancies, unions have employed young energetic workers. In their quest to enhance union influence and power, labor unions in the US have preferred to work with young workers rather than adult workers (Getman & Marshall, 2004). Through such initiatives, the US labor unions have revitalized their organizations. Currently it is estimated that the average age of the US union member is 45 years. This illustrates that the US labor unions are depicted by generational differences. From these statistics, union associates and followers are currently more concerned about the future of their unions.
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In the US, most current union leaders were activists during the 1960s and the 1970s (Wagner, 2008). This illustrates the needed enthusiasms, vigor, and newer ideas in the country’s labor movements. Studies indicate that the absence of youths in the labor movements does not imply that the youth dislikes the labor movements. Instead, their lack of interests in the unions indicates that the younger workers have little information of the unions. According to researchers, most workers below the age of 40 do not have substantial knowledge on their unions’ pasts, benefits, and their functioning. Researchers assert that younger workers believe that workplace challenges are best addressed individually. On the other hand, adult workers believe that workplace challenges are best solved collectively. These findings illustrate that the current young workers are becoming more individualistic than earlier generations.
Despite their inactive roles in the labor unions, young workers should realize that labor unions could address most of their current workplace issues. According to the US government survey, young workers were adversely hit by the recession. With the effects of recession, more youths have to work for long hours and sustain more than two jobs to meet their needs and demands. Equally, more young workers are working under poor working conditions with little payments. More affected by these workplace challenges are the newly employed workers who have to endure harassment and manipulations just because they do not know how to confront on the issues (Verma & Kochan, 2004). To address on these issues, young workers are advised to be actively involved in the labor movements. Above all, young workers should be involved in the leadership of these labor unions to bring the needed social changes in these organizations.
To welcome young members in the labor movements, these organizations should restructure their structures and policies to encourage young members’ enrollment and participation (Durrenberger & Reichart 2010). Through these, the unions should adopt appropriate approaches. These approaches may include organizing youth conferences, organizing leadership-training programs, and encouraging younger members in their respective unions to vie for leadership positions. To reach out for more members and encourage more participation of the young workers in their operations, unions should feature their activities and roles on websites, social networks, and other electronic media. In their endeavors to attract young workers in their unions, union leaders should ensure that their goals are tailored towards addressing the current issues faced by most youths in their workplaces. Through this, they are advised to use persuasive language that acknowledges the cultural differences among the current young workers. To attract more young workers to become activists, activists groups and unions should work collectively with student groups, youth leaders in different organizations, and community youth leaders in offering services addressing issues faced by the youths in their daily activities.
Durrenberger, E. P., & Reichart, K. S. (2010). The anthropology of labor unions. Boulder, Colo.: University Press of Colorado.
Getman, J. G., & Marshall, F. R. (2004). The future of labor unions: organized labor in the 21st century . Austin, Tex: Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.
Verma, A., & Kochan, T. A. (2004). Unions in the 21st century: an international perspective (Unions in the twenty-first century. ed.). Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wagner, V. (2008). Labor unions. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.