Theability of employees to exploit their skills optimally is dependenton the quality of the work environments. Most companies struggle tomaintain internal best practices aimed at improving the skills andconsequently the production. However, some enterprise owners takeadvantage of loopholes in the existing agreement to exploit theemployees mainly by overworking them and offering low wages.According to Fudge(2015), unionshave been instrumental in protecting professionals and non-skilledworkers from evasive and exploitative managers. This paper willdiscuss the general overview of unions and the rationale for theirexistence. It will also advise Shawn on the appropriateness embracingthe idea in the workplace and the projected implications.
GeneralOverview of Unions
Thelabor movements in the country were formed by individuals and groupsthat agitated for fair wages, safe workplaces and decent occupationhours. The rationale for joining the powers was that individuals fromdifferent companies could not bargain for favorable terms. Thehistory of labor unions dates back to 1872 when Toronto Print’sworkers downed their tools to compel their employer to reduce thedaily working hours to nine. Unfortunately, since they did not have abody to back their claims, they were replaced indefinitely(Heron, 2012).
Nonetheless,their decision sent waves of awareness among the public and more than10,000 people showed up at the Queen’s Park on April 15, 1872, toshow their support for the arrested workers. According to Heron(2012), any union activity at the time was felonious and those foundperpetrating such thoughts were always arraigned in court. On April18th,Prime Minister John McDonald introduced a bill to legalize andprotect labor unions(Fudge & Tucker, 2015).In the late 1980s, the circumstances that led to the strengthening ofthe employees’ protection included long working hours, unemploymentinsurance, workplace safety and parental benefits.
Incontrast to the formative years that were marred by numerous hurdles,unions have transformed the working conditions and related benefitsin Canada. Currently, more than 4 million employees subscribe todifferent unions across the country. In 2014, 4,753,232 professionalworking in the public and private sector are covered by thecollective agreements(Fudge & Tucker, 2015).Due to the emerging needs dictated by the changing economy, therequirements pursued by the unions have changed over time. Inaddition to the basic work requirements, the modern bodies push fordental insurance, extended health care coverage, fair promotions, payrise, protection from harassment, paid vacations and parental leaves(Fossum, 2014).
Issuesfacing Shawn and his Co-workers
Asan employee, Shawn is faced with a myriad of challenges in theworkplace mostly due to the non-supportive and non-compliantemployer. First, he is not satisfied with his occupation in spite ofhaving worked for ten years. The primary cause of his discontentmentis occupying the same position for a lengthy time. Secondly, he haswitnessed unfair promotions. According to him, many junior workershave influenced their way up the ladder mostly by bribing theseniors. In addition, his skills have remained unchanged since thecompany does not have an education improvement plan. For the tenyears that he has worked in the enterprise, he only has a tradecertificate. Although he yearns to gain more skills, he cannot raiseenough money to cater for the fees. Another major problem thataffects the effective discharge of duties in the institution is theunhealthy competition among the employees. Shawn and his co-workerscompete for the available chances mainly due to the poor jobdescription. Furthermore, the company has not enrolled them in apension plan unlike others in the industry.
Theorganization has flaws that put the workers at a disadvantage. First,the management does not retain talents, and it engages in undeservingdismissals. Secondly, despite the rising standards of living, theenterprise offers poor remunerations compared with other closecompetitors. The professionals also complain of stress, long workinghours, lack of management support, and poor communication andguidance. The internal wrangles within the departments and theunresponsiveness to safety measures have been a primary cause ofdisgruntled employees.
Apartfrom the internal inconveniencies, the industry in which the companyoperates also contributes to unsatisfactory occupationalcharacteristics. Some enterprises discourage unions since theyperceive it as a threat to their internal operations. There have beenvarious cases of threats of dismissal as employees strive to strikecollective bargains for improved remunerations(Chen et al., 2011).The management can not effectively solve the collection of problemsfacing Shawn and his colleagues. Subscribing to a labor union is themost viable option since it will caution them from any internalpunitive measures.
Byjoining a labor union, Shawn, and his co-workers will be in aposition to request for decent salaries without fearing dismissals.According to Faradayet al. (2012), labormovements support the use of mass actions and picketing when theinternal mechanisms fail to address the needs of workers. Secondly, aunion would be an instrumental backup when agitating for safe workingconditions and a definite job description. The rationale for this isthat the management may be reluctant to implement such measureswithout the intervention of an external force. In addition, theleadership has been ignorant of registering the workers for a pensionplan. As an individual, Shawn does not have enough influence to havehis desires implemented by the management. Pension plans are some ofthe critical elements that labor unions enforce. The lack of suchbasic services is enough to assume that the employees aredisenfranchised of other rights including paid vacations,comprehensive health insurance, and parental leaves. A body that hasboth regional and national can receive the dissents and easily compelthe employer to be compliant with existing rules.
NegativeEffects of Joining a Labor Union
AlthoughShawn and his colleagues are likely to benefit from unionizing theirworkplace., there are several costs that they would incur. First,labor bodies are funded by the members and, therefore, the employeesare required to remit a given amount to help the unions run theiractivities. Some of the workers may not be comfortable with theadditional expenses. Secondly, Shawn will lose the autonomy of makingdecisions in his occupation. For instance, he can decide to take anyemergent opportunity in the workplace simply because he presumes tobe more qualified than the other employees. However, the tendency islikely due to poor work description and spineless internalstructures. In a unionized environment, he may be required to stickto his duties regardless of whether thethere is an opportunity toexploit without his work description.
Besidethe disadvantaged on Shawn’s independence, his relationship withthe management is likely to change. Most employers view unions asdetracting to their progress and economy. Due to the influence ofworkers from other companies, Shawn may champion the unionization ofthe workplace. The supervisors and heads of departments may perceivehim as a threat and single him out during merits.
Acollective bargain entails an agreement between the employer and alabor union to improve wages, the work environment and other factorsthat may hinder the workers’ production. In the country, theprocess is forged through a tight statutory mechanism that regulatesall the aspects of the union-company relationship(Hayter, 2011).The collective bargain invokes five basic stages. First, the workersand employers try to reach an agreement. Most of the times,enterprises buy time without heeding to the request of the workers. Failure to reach settlements triggers the involvements of anotherconciliatory party that tries to help them strike a compromise. Whenthe external player fails, the parties introduce an independentarbitrator to help resolve the dispute. The failure of the process toyield satisfactory results invokes a legislation to bide the partiesto the desired agreement(Addison et al., 2011).
Employeesand entrepreneurs can also opt for a collective agreement thatinvolves a written contract that covers workers represented by atrade union. It governs the terms of employment and outlines therights, privileges, and duties of the management, employees and therepresenting labor body (Fossum, 2014). There are various types ofagreements that the three parties can opt for a settlement.Distributive bargaining is the most common compromise, and itinvolves zero-sum negotiations. One of the parties has to forego abenefit once a contract is signed. Also, the stakeholders can opt toenter into an integrative agreement whereby they pursue mutualbenefit. Besides the mutual benefit contract, employers and theworkers can also opt to resolve their differences through thecomposite contract that seeks to protect workers from strains broughtby increased productivity. The agreement is meant to lift the burdenand ensuring equity among the workers (Addisonet al., 2011).
Inconclusion, the presence of labor unions in the various industrieshas been instrumental in protecting workers from exploitation, lowwages, and unsafe working conditions. The non-unionized occupationthat Shawn and his colleagues operate in puts them on the receivingend of massive malpractices. Subscribing to a protective wouldintensify their bargaining power, An external party would compel theemployer to implement corrective strategies that would contributetowards job satisfaction. The collective bargaining that holds theentrepreneur, workers, and the labor union can be distributive,integrative, productive or composite. However, such a move wouldattract additional expense sand loss of autonomy.
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