In the last two decade, many organizations gave powers to supervisor or foreman in order to control and maintain discipline or to control issues related to employee behavior. In some cases, in order for an employee to retain a job and possibly prevent the current job conditions from lessening, the employee had to please the supervisor or foreman (Fossum, 2009). This is known as the “drive system” (Lewin & Kaufman, 2009). It held power in most manufacturing industries for the better part of one third of the twentieth century. In the following paper we will discuss Union Avoidance including its rationale, strategies and practices. There are various strategies which organizations use. Usually they built union free employment environment (Kaufman & Taras, 2000).
During the 1940s through the 1970s employers and unions went through a time period in which unions were somewhat permanent in the work place. Most laws and regulations were in favor of collective bargaining as a means of dealing with work place disputes. Collective bargaining is defined as, the people (union) or their leaders discuss with the employer what is acceptable, what needs to be changed and what issues are currently of concern and the company decides which of these demands will be met and which will not be met (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart & Wright, 2007). Usually not all demands are met.
During a time when unionization seemed unavoidable, employers were forced to work with sympathetic employees to assist in establishing a company union. These unions were usually never associated with larger national organizations or unions. They were kept small and independent for the most part. As a result, this limited the power of the individual company unions. These smaller, company specific unions resulted in the employees being more sympathetic to their employers’ situation. The Wagner Act made it totally illegal for company unions to be assisted by employers and for the employer to have any part of a union. The employees could not be assisted by their employer any longer. This made a 3rd party or mediator necessary and also increased fairness and success of unions.
Employers who are heavily unionized face substantial economic problems while those who are not heavily unionized do not face as much of this type of problem. Nonunion manufactures have to pay less and they can manufacture cheaper goods; however unions increase the cost of items. Economic rationale comprises of industrial structure, company investment decisions, shareholder value, inflexible rules and profitability. Unionization reduced the above listed items. Generally, nonunion work places are most popular than unionized work places (Brenner, Day & Ness, 2009). Rules are laid out for production standards, what can be used as criterion for jobs and lay offs. Union bargain agreement had increased these benefits and wages.
Unions are organized group of workers who have a voice in the improvement of their jobs and the quality of work within the organization. Unions help workers to negotiate pay and resolve conflicts. Management and union understand that they must have cooperation in order to achieve their goals (Brenner, Day & Ness, 2009). Though not as powerful as they once were, unions are still a relevant part of society.
In order to gain flexibility and an effort to reduce wage levels or in other words to avoid union, some employers set out some union free strategies (Salamon, 2000). The main aim to these strategies is to avoid unionization. This caused a shift in management approach. Management went from trying to provide the best bargain to attempting union avoidance. Normally where two or more people interact, there is a chance of conflict between or among them. It does not matter whether the conflict is between employees and management or between employees; some sort of union is often needed. Usually union is most helpful for disputes between employee and management but has its bad point from employer’s point of view. This fact forces employers to invest more money on wages, employer benefits and improvements.
By conducting organizing campaign unions begin their interest with an employee. Representatives of the union attempt to persuade a majority of workers that they are receiving inadequate pay or other employment benefits (Salamon, 2000). In voting in an organized union, the union will help them achieve better pay and other employment benefits (Noe, et al, 2007). Management and independent contractors are not allowed to be a part of the union.
Eligible employees are provided with ballots with which to cast their votes. After the votes have been cast, they are verified by a member of the National Labor Relations Board. If the union has been accepted in by a majority vote, the vote is certified and the union can begin negotiations on behalf of the employees.
A strike is a collective action taken by groups of workers in the form of a refusal to perform work (Rose, 2004). Local unions generally are represented by national or international organizations and usually consist of members having a particular skill or occupation. Members are involved in organizing, collective bargaining, and contract administration with organizations. Unionizing in an organization is often associated with generous compensation, increased benefits and higher productivity of which often leads to higher employee morale and may be advantageous for employees. In contrast, unions may reduce a business’ flexibility financial performance which is vital in today’s global economy.
One common practice is that unions decrease productivity because of work rules and limits on workloads set by union contracts and production lost to such union actions as strikes and work slowdowns. At the same time, unions can have positive effects on productivity. They can reduce turnover by giving employees a route for resolving problems (Noe, et. al., 2007). Unions create a sense of empowerment among the workers in organizational affairs, consequently generating devotion and faithfulness for the organization. Consequently, the workers try to avoid problems for the organization, which may cause losses or damages; instead they tend to be productive.
Unions accentuate compensation systems based on seniority, which abrogate inducements for employees to compete rather than cooperate. The introduction of a union also may pressure an employer to improve its management practices and pay greater attention to employee ideas and concerns. Management goals are to increase the organization’s profits. Managers tend to prefer options that lower costs and raise output. Obtaining right pay and setting satisfactory working conditions for their members are general goals of unions. Unions also gave members right to have say in organizational decisions. They enjoy these powers due to large number of members (Noe, et. al, 2007). Due to these reasons most of the organizations avoids labor union. Organizations depend on effective human resource management to ascertain the hiring and retention of capable employees and that they can resolve conflicts between management and workers. Human resource managers first decide on the number and type of employees that an organization will need for the first few years of operation (Lewin & Kaufman, 2009). The task then becomes to recruit new workers to replace vacated positions and fill positions that result from expansion. The human resources management division also trains or facilitates the education of its staff to enhance employee productivity, adeptness, and conciliation and to increase the overall success of the business.
The human resources department endeavors to maintain good relations with the union leaders and workers to assure the avoidance any disorder or strikes which may lead to serious losses or damages to the organization .The human resources department is charged with developing flexible and balanced policies for dealing with workers. Current day human resource policies tend to be equitable and assiduous with its workers for the safety of management and prevention from discontented workers. Today, management and union affiliation is based on reciprocated respect. Although union and management differ on various issues, the consensus is that one cannot achieve its objectives without the cooperation of the other.
Unions are still relevant in the United States, because there is always a tendency for businesses to disenfranchise workers. Unions promote teamwork and foster a feeling of camaraderie among workers, they encourage worker education and training and they facilitate the peaceful resolution of conflicts between management and employees. Unions also take management to task on safety issues and boost employee morale.
The irony is that the Unions are becoming less needed because of their success. Many of the labor laws which have been enacted to protect worker rights are a direct result of union activity. Wages and benefits have all been impacted by union activity. Many of the objectives sought by unions in the early days have been achieved and employees can now negotiate their wages and benefits by themselves.