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A common assignment on Union – Free Organizations is as follows:
Most organizations would prefer to be union-free. Develop the following:
- The rationale for remaining union-free.
- An appropriate corporate strategy for union avoidance.
- Specific organizational policies and recommendations to ensure union avoidance.
- A counter-strategy within a unionized environment that positions the organization to become union-free when possible.
Identify and describe five major trends in employee relations today for non-unionized organizations. Be specific in these issues as well as your recommendations for how these issues should be addressed for proactive organizations.
Describe management’s role during a union campaign. What are the legal foundations for management’s role and what strategic issues should management address during this period? Give examples from actual companies that support your answers.
Discuss thoroughly the issue of global employee relations. Select a minimum of 3 major issues that occur today and your solutions to those issues.
Overview of When the Labor Unions Began and Why:
The inception of labor unions in the United States began in the early 1800’s and their strength continued through the Industrial Revolution. Industrialism had been allowed to develop in America with a complete laissez faire attitude. It was well commented upon during the 1870s and 1880s that Congress was often in the pay of the giant trusts. American business leaders adopted Herbert Spencer’s theories of Social Darwinism as they all but eliminated competition. The industrial practices of these monopolies force poverty conditions on their workers, so that by the turn of the 20th century the average American worker was bringing home between $400 and $500 a year, well below the accepted minimum income ($600) that most believed was required to "maintain a reasonable level of comfort".
Early Labor Unions in America
One of the first groups to attempt to rectify this great injustice were the labor unions. Workers realized that the only way they could stand up to the massive industrial combinations was to create one of their own: the union. Most of the early labor unions in America were dismally unsuccessful. Both the capitalist and middle classes in America became convinced that labor unions were controlled by anarchists and radicals (it did not help the union cause that one of the largest unions—the IWW—was, in fact, radically socialist).
With working conditions increasingly poor due to the boom of industrialization and the power of the worker rejuvenated during wartime labor shortages, unionization experienced an upsurge in the early to mid 20th Century.