Labor Unions Pros and Cons List

Labor unions have been around since the Roman Empire and actually began to evolve into their present form during the Middle Ages. Like all things created by men, labor unions have good qualities and bad qualities. The view a person has on a labor union is highly influenced by their membership in a union.

List of Pros of Labor Unions

1. Labor unions provide a high level of pay and benefits because the union participates in collective bargaining. Members of labor unions often get more direct pay, better benefits, and safer working conditions than people doing the same type of work in a nonunion plant or facility.

2. Labor unions reduce the number of people that are terminated in a union environment. There is usually a standard format that any supervisor must follow to make a complaint about an employee’s productivity or behavior. The employee is protected by the contract with the union that may include legal representation for compensation and reemployment if the union member is wrongfully terminated.

3. The company benefits from the structure of hiring and firing that a union contract imposes on the company. The company gets a higher quality of labor, higher levels of skill, and a defined pathway for training and promotion. Overall, a union makes a company more productive.

4. Workers that are not in a union can benefit from the political clout that unions have in terms of wages and benefits.

List of Cons of Labor Unions

1. Labor unions can cause the price of the products that the union employees make to increase. This increase in price can occur due to higher wage demands and strikes. The cost of wage increases is passed on to the end consumer as a higher price. Higher prices can lead to a company being less competitive and a loss of jobs.

2. Strikes mean no production. A company can lose its edge in a highly competitive market if a strike prevents the normal manufacture and distribution of products.

3. Union fees can take a big bite out of workers’ pay. Essentially the high wages that union members make is reduced by the fees that they pay to support the union. In some instances most of these fees go to fund a lavish lifestyle for the union representatives and managers but does little to help the workers.

4. Unions have an unfair advantage in lobbying politicians in all levels of government. Most unions are very active in the political arena at the local, state, and federal levels. The union has more input in government decisions than the ordinary citizen and this is considered to be unfair.

5. Unions have protected the rights of workers and insured that all workers are treated fairly regardless of their race or sex. There have been some actions by union officials that were not legal. A union is only as good a tool as the union management allows the union to be.