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Trade Unions in US Essay

Wunnava (2004) compares the United States’ private- sector trade unions to an endangered animal or plant species. However, Wunnava (2004) reiterates that public-sector unions are much stronger. The density of public-sector trade unions is four times that of the private-sector (Wunnava, 2004). However, the public sector employs less than 15% of the United States labor force (Wunnava, 2004). For that reason, the majority of the citizens are unlikely to enjoy gains made by the public-sector unions.

Nonetheless, labor unions have greatly contributed to the development of an American worker (Fantsia and Voss, 2004). Guthrie (2002) adds that workers should not take for granted rights that were fought for and won by previous unions. Some of these rights include a paid sick leave and vacation, a workday of eight hours, decent wages, pension, and retirement benefits, and a voice in management (Guthrie, 2002). This essay provides an insight into what the public sector and private sector employees expect from their trade unions.

According to Fortunato and Bonilla (2006), trade unions are an expression of the techniques and results of pure democracy. In one of his speech, Herbert Hoover talked in favor of collective bargaining (Fortunato and Bonilla, 2006). For that reason, trade unionism is not a new thing in the United States. The climate that shapes the attitude towards trade unions is, therefore, around a century old.

However, according to Fantsia and Voss (2004) the United States, unlike most European countries, lacks some social provision in its economic policies. Additionally, some parts of the country have high levels of poverty and inequality (Fantsia and Voss, 2004). For that reason, a good number of United States workers lack a decent livelihood. Trade unions, therefore, have a lot to do. Consequently, the public sector and private sector employees expect trade unions to correct these injustices and imbalances (Fantsia and Voss, 2004).

In the United States, there are constant complaints on the cost of employment benefits by both the public and the private sector (Budd, 2005). Accordingly, there is a high probability that the United States workforce might be denied these benefits. Therefore, employees require a more powerful voice to fight for them. Trade unions are best placed to provide this voice. Additionally, benefits that workers want trade unions to continue fighting for include profit-sharing, bonuses and stock options (Budd, 2005).

Other benefits include employer-paid health, life and disability insurance, pension, vacation, and sick leaves, educational and legal assistance and several other items (Budd, 2005). In his study, Mayer (2004) states that the wages of the worker who are union members are about 10% to 30% higher than those of non-union workers. Consequently, members of trade unions expect this to be maintained. Moreover, public and private workers join trade unions with the hope of improving their overall working conditions (Wunnava, 2004). For that reason, trade unions should also include items such as the safety of employees in their list of bargains.

Trade unions, in particular, facilitate the acquisition of these benefits by employees (Budd, 2005). Benefits such as paid leaves, shorter work-days, decent wages, and retirement benefits sum up what the public sector or private sector employees expect or want from their trade unions. Accordingly, unionized employees have better benefits packages than nonunion workers. However, workers should also not assume that these benefits cannot be taken away from them (Guthrie, 2002). Therefore, they must strive to keep trade unions alive if they want to retain these benefits.


Budd, J.W. (2005). .

Fantsia, R. & Voss, R.K. M. (2004). Hard work: remaking the American labor movement. California, LA: University of California Press.

Fortunato, K.F. & Bonilla, C. (2006). A century of economic thought as examined through American trade unionism.

Guthrie, G. G. (2002). .

Mayor, G. (2004). Union membership trends in the United States (Congressional Research Service Report no. RL32553).

Wunnava, P.V. (2004). The changing role of unions: new forms of representation. New York, A.M: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.

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