Labor unions are the subject of much controversy in the United States. To some extent, this is due to a lack of information about the benefits that a union provides to employers and employees. A labor union is an organization of workers whose purpose is to negotiate with employers for better wages, safer working conditions, and fair treatment. Unions exist to make life better for employees, but they also provide benefits to employers.
One major advantage that union employees enjoy over their non-union counterparts is compensation. In a non-union place of business, wages and other compensation are settled privately. There is no guarantee that two people doing the same job--with the same qualifications--receive the same salary and benefits. A labor union, however, ensures that all wages and compensation are written into the union's contract.
Everyone is treated equally in a union workplace. Favoritism does not play a part in who gets promoted or what salary increases are rewarded. The union contract specifies when raises occur, and what amount of time with the company qualifies the worker for a promotion. Everyone is subject to the same guidelines and job responsibilities.
Another major benefit of union membership for workers is that seniority is honored. In a business that does not have union representation, the qualifications for a promotion are often subjective. In a union, the qualifications for promotion are usually based on seniority. The level of seniority that is required is spelled out in the union contract. Thus loyalty is rewarded over a person’s subjective opinion of the qualifications of candidates applying for a promotion.
Policies in union businesses are consistent. A business without union representation can often change its expectations of workers without notice. In a union workplace, these responsibilities are specifically determined in advance. This benefits both employers and employees. Employees enjoy more consistency because they know what is expected of them. Employers benefit from a more content work force and less time spent on training to enforce constant changes.
Union workers do not have to negotiate on their own behalf. Instead, union representatives negotiate on behalf of the entire group. This ensures fair treatment of the employee and guards against discrimination in the workplace. A worker can gain a better position in negotiations when he is joined by a majority of the work force. Alone, he has little leverage to negotiate for higher pay or better working conditions.