Writing -In today’s workplace, it is of outmost importance

In today’s workplace, it is of outmost importance for workers in established organizations to have and bea part of a labour union. Labour unions in Canada, emerged out of the collective struggles of workers togain recognition and regulate employment relationships. The movement itself dates back to the 1800swith early labour organizations such as the Canadian labour union(CLU) between 1872-1878 whoopposed the use of convict labour by private employees, fought for the abolition of child labor andshorter working hours amongst others; paving the way for other union organizations to evolve as a wayfor workers to join together and influence work related difficulties such as low pay, long hours, work andother health related situations. Most of these issues surrounding working conditions and overall qualityof life in today’s economy, partly remains the reason why labour unions are still needed in today’sworkplaces.Firstly, unions have a long history of standing up for workers. The labour movement itself is based on theidea that organizing workers together as a group have more power and influence than individuals wouldnaturally have on their own. Looking back in history, the knight of labor movement founded inPhiladelphia 1869 sought to bring all workers both skilled and unskilled together into one organization.The Knights were strong advocates for equal pay, abolition of child labour, political reforms including thegraduated income tax, the 8-hour work day amongst others. Today, unions stand to serve as economicactors to help workers improve their economic circumstances, manage their employment relationshipsand also set policies to moderate the impending inequalities embedded in the capitalist labour marketand at workplaces. Through labour union collective struggles between the 1800s and 2000s certain lawshave been put in place against exploitation, unfair treatment of workers, occupational exclusion amongstothers; which is still significant in todays workplaces.Furthermore, the labour movement in Canada today has created greater public awareness andunderstanding of labour rights as a key component to a functioning democracy and an equitable andsustainable economy. The influx of unions remains the sole reason why workers today have the right tobe recognized and to engage in collective bargaining with employers in order to reach an agreementregarding working conditions in lure to avoid wild cat strikes that would in turn disrupt the productionprocess. Additionally, workers now also have the rights to refuse unsafe/dangerous work, benefit frompaid vacations, maternity/paternity leave, seniority rights, paid overtime and so on. Without unions,most of these rights and benefits wouldn’t have been achieved. A more recent example would be theUnited Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s (UFCW) latest win for migrant workers whohave faced unique disadvantages in the Canadian labor market to be granted access to many socialbenefits and statutory protections enjoyed by other workers. This and many other recent achievementson the part of unions for workers today, remains the sole reason why union presence is still of greatimportance.Contrary to these views however, most people would argue that unions have in part created more harmthan good to workers and are therefore not needed in workplaces. This is partly because of the militantand radical methods used by unions to achieve most of their successes; and in todays workplaces, unionsare being seen as enemies to establishments. Their methods have been argued to create distortions inthe production process, reduce managerial discretion, limit the adoption of new technologies and affectan organizations investment, performance and overall productivity. More recently, according to statistics,unionization has fallen from 37.6% in 1981 to 28.8% in 2014 due to varying issue regarding employmentshifts, poor union representation, negative media and overall union resentment. It is now the case thatmost workers today no longer have faith in union power. However, on the other hand we should have itin mind that unions can potentially increase productivity by improving overall communication within theorganization. Through unions, most employers now benefit from lower labor related costs which canlead management to adopt more effective policies and methods of production. In addition, we live in theage of precarious employment, were exploitation, lay offs, wage cuts, occupational exclusion amongstothers remain embedded in the economy, and in all or part of the constantly changing workforce, thereis still a call for union representation.In summary, over the cause of five decades there has been an increase in the number of women andminorities in paid employment. Most of these people including masters and PhD degree holders still findthemselves in an uncharitable work reality; one that is precarious, low-paying, demanding, etc. Thesechallenges are constant as no one can remain entirely immune to workplace exploitation, and that is whyunions stand as a great equalizer, a balancing act within capitalism, potentially even a game changer forsomething revolutionary. If we think about eliminating the presence of unions in workplaces, we shouldask ourselves; what would become of the future state of workers given the uncertainties embedded inthis capitalist labour market. Risk of Exploitation? Workplace exclusion? discrimination? wage cuts? layoffs? etc. It however becomes the case that uncertainty avoidance remains the sole reason why unionsare needed.

 

 

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