Are Labor Unions Still Relevant Today?

What is a Labor Union?

A trade union can be described as an employee organization that advocates for the rights of employees.

A labor or trade union is an organized group of workers who advocate for working conditions, economic justice and unfair treatment by employers. Trade unions collectively advance the interests of their members by negotiating with employers.

Unions are organized like democracies. Members of societies elect officers who make decisions for their members. The primary purpose of authorities is to provide authority and control to their members.

How do unions make money?


Union members pay dues to cover union expenses. Most unions have paid full-time staff to help manage their operational costs. Some union members volunteer their time and talents to the association. Some unions create strike funds that support workers during a strike.

Are trade unions still around today?

American flag/Labor concept


Unions have played a significant role in workers’ rights for centuries. The origins of labor unions in the United States date back to the 18th century, when the Industrial Revolution and big business were in their infancy and heavily dependent on human labor. This quickly led to widespread abuse of workers, including children, who were forced to work long hours each day for low wages and benefits.

Federal and state labor laws exist to protect workers today. For example, these two agencies are responsible for setting industry standards such as safe working conditions and minimum wage standards.

What do critics say about labor unions?

Workers gathered at work


Critics say labor unions work against employers, making it more difficult for a company to manage its employees for the better. Some say unions make it harder for companies to fire unproductive employees. Also, companies complain that unions drive up payroll costs and benefits costs, resulting in less revenue to operate the company or forcing the company to raise the prices of goods and services.

Which industries have labor unions?

NFL Football


The public sector has the largest number of union members, such as police officers, firefighters and teachers. In the private sector, industries with high union rates include transportation, warehousing, utilities, motion pictures, and sports.

When I worked in the National Football League, labor unions played a big role in the game. The players’ union is called the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). The NFLPA represents all players regarding wages, retirement, insurance benefits and working conditions and protects their rights as a professional football player. Finally, the NFLPA ensures compliance with the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Just as players benefit from union representation, so do game officials. The association of game officials is known as the National Football League Referees Association (NFLRA). The NFLRA represents all game officials regarding wages, retirement, insurance benefits and working conditions and protects their rights as professional game officials. Finally, the NFLRA ensures compliance with the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Pros and Cons of Organized Labour

The concept of union


Labor unions have long been a part of American culture. The need for memberships and unions decreased due to government regulated employment laws. Gone are the days when unions were formed to protect child labor, unfair working conditions, wage disparities and unfair working hours.


1. Unions promote higher wages and better benefits.

2. Unions are economic pacesetters.

3. Unions provide protection to workers.


1. Trade unions discourage individualism—the group is treated the same.

2. Unions can protect failing employees.

3. Unions increase costs for the company.

The Last Resort or Bargaining Game

Engineer/Factory workers unionized


A strike or lockout is an expression of union discontent and dissatisfaction. When negotiations between company management and labor unions fail, unions may take action to disrupt company workflow and production. The best course of action is for the company and the labor union to continue to discuss their differences that keep them from agreeing to a contract.

When both sides refuse to budget over sticking points during negotiations, companies are sometimes forced to hire replacement workers to keep operations going. Many of these replacements may be unskilled, but this temporary move by the company is an attempt to keep the company open for business. Hiring replacement workers may also be a company bargaining strategy to let the union know that the company can move forward with these non-unionized workers.

Finally, as company management and labor unions negotiate an agreed-upon contract, neither side gets everything they set out for. Both sides have give and take. The goal of both sides is to find common ground where management and labor can coexist to work together. Let’s work together so we can all continue to do what we love. is working playing Creating a better world!

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