Labor movements are essential since they serve the interests and rights of workers. In America, the labor movement has undergone significant social and economic changes. Trade unions that are part of the labor movement have played a crucial role in the development of merican workforce and political systems. Intense competition, advancement in technology, and changes in demography cause changes in labor management relations and in the workplace. This paper will explore the management relations in the American system of labor, analyze how unions and management are compliant to the American labor laws, and explain the process of decertifying unions. It will also cover the historical as well as the legal frameworks that have guided the American labor laws and management relations.
After the Second World War, the United States embarked on mass production in order to continue with its dominance in the market. As a result, labor agreements multiplied which entailed workplace expectations among other things that affected workers (Pelling 1960). The management fraternity in America did not warmly welcome those labor enactments and laws. The unions protected workers from exploitation and negotiated on the job classification, whereby they linked wages that a worker received to the job and not the workers skills.
The Wagner and Taft-Hartley Acts established the powers of federal laws over the state law in the labor sector. The Wagner Act had a framework for bargaining and campaigning against unfair practices in the labor sector. These unfair practices have been prompted by efforts of employers in the United States. Specifically, many employers engaged in efforts aimed at ensuring that trade unions could not be formed. Over the years, it has been noted that American business persons and employers have this tradition of being reluctant to join trade unions and associations. This has resulted in patterns that are decentralized as far as industrial relations are concerned. Compared to the European nations, American employers are more resistant to joining trade unions.
In America, during the early 1930s, there was a spirit of voluntarism among workers. They believed that economic and social development could be achieved through noninterference. In Europe, workers were actively involved in politics. Workers transformed their political strengths into social legislation. Today workers believe that their rights can be protected through labor laws. Laws that are in the statute books must be enforced to ensure that workers do not feel oppressed. The effectiveness of these laws has been evidenced a multitude of times. Due to The Fair Labor Standards Act, which was adopted in 1938, the minimum wages was fixed that every worker was entitled to. Child labor was banned and laws on regulating workers’ wages, working hours of employees and other vital conditions of employment were enforced (Reynolds 1984).
Historically, the activity of trade unions helped to improve workers’ conditions. Although there had previously been agreements on the employer and workers relation, the new agreement stated that a worker could not be discharged unless with a just cause. That had not been the case previously the employees who had had no contract of employment, were often discharged without any reason.
Union performance in America, has improved over the years. Union members who are usually workers are able to decertify. Workers have a voice that enables them to get rid of their union through voting. Workers also choose whether they want to become members of a union or not. According to the American Bureau of Labor Statics 2001, the majority of workers were members of trade unions. The public sector has more workers union members compared to the private sector. The difference between the private and public sectors may be attributed to lower levels of management resistance of their workers to joining trade unions in the public sector.
It came to the public attention in the 1970s that the American market had been invaded and almost dominated by foreign markets. Other countries were producing cheaper goods that were superior in quality compared to American products. The government found it necessary to change its view on the labor relations in the country. They allowed women and minorities to venture into the labor market whereby each group brought with it different expectations and skills. Many of these new employees did not join the existing trade unions since they viewed them as rigid, restrictive and bureaucratic. It soon became evident that the old systems of work relationship were not productive and beneficial to the Americans. The old mode of work had rendered America unable to produce quality products at competitive prices.
It was then upon the young people to change their perception about work and workplace. They found themselves unwilling to do blue collar jobs. Because of this the labor management found it necessary to improve the working conditions of workers, which was thought to be a means of boosting the morale of the employees. Companies also embarked on production of innovative products and ideas. Organizations began to merge aiming to achieve high performance, improve their skills, and serve their customers well. Merging also helped them to have consistent and standardized outcomes.
In America, many dramatic and radical changes take place in the cooperate world. Goods produced or services offered are driven by customer demand and increased competition in the world. Restructuring and transformations still continue in the union and also nonunion setting. Management teams have responsibility of aligning all these processes to protect current and future realities of the business. It is vital that the management team share information, involve union leaders and employees in making decisions about the issues at work, competitive nature of the market, and technological change. Involvement of all stakeholders helps build strong relations among all of them. With beneficial cooperative relationships, drastic and dramatic results are usually attained.
Employers in the USA must abide by legal framework, which guides all employers in maintaining relations with their employees. These regulations and laws cover a wide range of issues from workers recruitment, their hiring, compensations to injured workers while on their duty, labor relations with the workers, and health and safety of the workers.
In the United States, it is expected that all workers and employers be compliant with the labor law as stipulated. It is expected that officers of the labor organizations are elected, and protection of the union funds and the guarantee of rights as stated to all the union members are provided. The United States labor laws cover the legal relationship that exists between the employer, employee and the labor organization.
The employer, employee and the union need to agree on working hours, wages of the worker, and conditions and terms of employment. This constitutes the collective bargain agreement. Any union official who either embezzles the funds or misappropriates the funds or other assets that belong to the union commits a federal crime. He or she is not allowed to hold any union office or seek employment until thirteen years have elapsed. Union members are allowed to nominate, vote in referendums or elections, attend union meetings and deliberate in meetings pertaining the organizations that they represent. They are subject to reasonable regulations and rules in the constitution of their organization and also to the laws.
Labor laws in the United States guarantee employees the right to form small organizations. This helps in their representation and engagement in activities aimed at mutual benefit and protection of their rights. Labor laws and employment compliance acts in America are against discrimination of any form. They prohibit discrimination employment that is based on sex, nationality, color, religion or race. Discrimination on employment of persons who are forty years and older is also not allowed. It prohibits situations when employees who are of unsound mind or physically disabled are discriminated.
Fair labor standards must also be adhered to, where employers are expected to pay overtime to their employees. The Equal Pay Act also need to be complied with by all employers, whereby both men and women get paid equally for the same work done unless there are differences based on merit, quality or quantity of production. There are safety standards that every workplace must comply with under Occupational Safety and Health Act. It requires that all employers in a workplace should report every accident that occurs in that workplace. There are penalties for these acts violation.
Labor laws aim at organizing all employees who are employed by one employer so that the boss can realize that his employees have a bargaining power and right. Unions also have a role in ensuring that they negotiate for an agreement with the employer. Labor organizations seek to ensure that agreements between the worker and the employer are fair to both parties.
In America, all unions including small labor organizations must be compliant with United States Department of labor (Stein & Davis, 2004). Union members have the right to associate freely with other union members so that they can express their grievances, arguments or opinions. The American law requires that all unions have a financial operating plan and a record of officers who are elected. The union should have all financial records. They should have mechanisms for internal financial control which will maintain receipts, journals and other business records.
When an agreement is reached between the union and the workers, the union association holds a meeting with the workers and they agree on how they can improve their working environment. In case of an upcoming election, an agreement is reached between the union and workers on the date of the elections. A secret ballot box is used during the elections when union officials get voted for. When campaigns are going on, all aspirants and members of the union must feel free to express their opinions. During elections, bribes and threats are not allowed and may lead to disqualification of a candidate.
It is important to note that a worker who does not wish to join a trade union may not be forced to join. Physical coercion is not allowed and any union found guilty is at risk of being fined or banned as stipulated in the labor laws. Workers should not either be discriminated according to the job they do by the unions. They are only allowed to engage in peaceful strikes. On the other hand, the employer is not allowed to any peaceful strike by the workers.
Moreover, the Right-to-Work law states that no person shall be compelled, as a result of being employed, to be a member or pay any dues to a union. The Right to Work has had an effect on the wages’ levels of employee. Unions influence the wages that union and nonunion members receive. Right to Work can decreases the wages of the nonunion members and increases the wages of the union members. This has an effect on the equilibrium exemplary of the supply and demand for the services of the union, leading to increase of wages of the union members which in turn reduces employment in the entire union sector, increasing employment and reducing wages of the non-union members.
In America, it has been noted that employees in the Right-to-Work states earn slightly more compared to those who are employed in Non-Right-to-work states. This shows that there are relatively small differences between Right to Work states and Non-Right-to-Work states in terms of their earnings.
Therefore, it is worth noting that Right-to-Work is related to job creation. Right-to-Work states have superior performance compared to their counterparts who have not adopted the policy. Hence, Right-to-Work in America affects jobs creation, has an overall effect on the unemployment levels and also determines the poverty level in virtually all the states in America. This can be supported by the fact that while many companies are deciding where to locate their business they check whether it will be affected by the presence of the Right – to – Work laws in that state.
Job creations and unemployment levels in a given state in America plays a prominent role in determining whether the state will adopt a Right-to-Work policy. A Right-to-Work could bring more jobs and companies to that state. Hence companies in the United States consider Right-to-Work as a key factor in deciding where to locate their business. Right-to-Work as it has been discussed is an issue of employment in a state. Right-to-Work on job creation has significant positive consequences as compared to the Non-Right-to-Work. States that adopted the Right-to-Work policy ended up creating more jobs for their population compared to the states that has never adopted the policy.
Through much review of the literature, it has been observed that the Right-to-work has got no major positive or negative consequences on the wages of individuals in any of the states. Other factors also determine whether is important for the state to adopt either the Right-to-Work or the Non-Right-to-Work policy.
Decertifying a union happens when a union feels that it does not require the services of the union. The employees may say that they do not need the union representation. This may result from: corruption, violence or undemocratic processes .In such an event, the employees are entitled to hold elections in order elect a new representative for the union. Such elections are called “decertification elections”. When the employees who are eligible for voting require a decertification election, they must have a petition which they must circulate. The employees should not consult the employer because this will lead to unfair labor practices and might also tamper with the election results.
In conclusion, employees can capitalize on the outside assistance whereby they can collect signatures during nonworking hours. It does not have to be that the workers are not satisfied with the union. In other circumstances, a decertification election can be held when the contract between the employee and the union has been terminated.