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Roughly one in every eight Americans belongs to a labor union. The main role of unions is to protect employee rights in the workplace and to negotiate salaries, benefits, training and other conditions of employment. While unions exist to protect employees, they also present several benefits for employers. Organizations with labor unions have the opportunity to reduce turnover, simplify their budgeting processes and reap several other benefits.
Employee Commitment to the Workplace
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Research by labor experts Richard Freeman and James Medoff concluded that organizations with labor unions experience less employee turnover. This may be, in part, because of the better pay and benefits negotiated through the collective-bargaining process. Unions also allow employees to feel like they have a voice in the workplace, which can reduce feelings of frustration that could lead to turnover.
Easier Benefits Administration
Labor unions often will help organizations select vendors for benefits, and some larger state and national unions even offer benefit plans that can be purchased by organizations or individual employees. Because benefits are spelled out in union contracts for several years at a time, benefit administrators do not need to spend considerable time and effort each year researching alternate vendors or plans.
Simplified Compensation Process
Unions bring fairness and consistency to employee compensation. Employers need not live in fear of one employee learning another employee's salary. Salary schedules typically are spelled out clearly in union contracts. At union shops, employers do not need to contend with the individual salary demands of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of employees. The union will negotiate salaries for the entire group of member-employees.
Aiding the Budgeting Process
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Because employer contracts with labor unions often last several years (between three and five years is common), employers know what they will be spending on salaries and benefits well into the future. This helps organizations produce detailed and accurate budget forecasts. Few non-union organizations know what their labor costs will be so far into the future.
Disciplining employees can be one of the greatest management challenges at any organization. Union contracts often codify the discipline process and create a series of rules and steps that are deemed fair by both the union and the employer. A case study performed on the Internal Revenue Service and its staff union, the National Treasury Employees Union, showed that when employers and unions work together on disciplinary procedures, the end process may be seen by employees as more consistent and equitable.
- Unions Are Good For Business, Productivity and the Economy
- Union Participation, Job Satisfaction, and Employee Turnover: An Event-History Analysis of the Exit-Voice Hypothesis
- Effective Employee Discipline: A Case of the Internal Revenue Service
- Labor Notes. "Are Industrial Unions Better than Craft? Not Always." Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- Union Plus. "A Brief History of Unions." Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- Bureau of Labor Statistic. "Union Members Summary." Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- Maurer School of Law: Indiana University. "Undermining or Promoting Democratic Government?: An Economic and Empirical Analysis of the Two Views of Public Sector Collective Bargaining in American Law," Page 416. Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- University of Maryland. "A Living Wage." Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- Baldwin Wallace University. "Local Union Strength’s Effects on Individual Employment Outcomes," Page 7. Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- AFL-CIO. "Tariffs and Trade Are a Means, Not an End." Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- United States House of Representatives. "The Clayton Antitrust Act." Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- Joint Information Systems Committee. "Miners' Strike 1984-1985." Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Differences Between Union and Nonunion Compensation, 2001–2011," Page 16. Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
- National Labor Relations Board. "Union Dues." Accessed Mar. 6, 2020.
Kevin Hart has been writing and editing since 1998. He served as publisher of "Professional Carwashing & Detailing" magazine, "Water Technology" magazine, "Health Revelations" and "The Douglass Report." He has also written for "Cleanfax," "Cleaning & Maintenance Management," and "Boating Industry." He has a Bachelor of Arts in Russian from Colgate University and a Master of Science in communications from Utah State.