It is essential for a nation’s economy to have a strong, healthy and well-trained workforce. The human resources in any country can be broadly classified into two sections namely, white-collar job holders and blue-collar workers. The former usually hold desk jobs at various organizations while the latter are generally involved in work that requires physical skills and labor. It is this class of employees that needs assistance in securing their rights. This is where unions help workers in improving their overall condition. A union is an organization that represents the employees or a certain section of the workforce. These groups communicate on behalf of their members with the employing organizations. You will find trade unions that consist of people involved in a specific type of job and industrial unions that represent workers in a particular industry. For instance, the IBEW Minnesota State Council is a collection of different electrical industry unions in the state of Minnesota. It has members who work in the electrical industry of that particular state. Let’s see how unions provide assistance to workers in different ways.
1. Benefit Of Collective Bargaining Power
The biggest advantage that a union provides is collective bargaining power. Such groupings are collections of individuals with similar jobs. The challenges faced by these people are also similar in nature. This means that all of them are more or less working towards the same objectives. Getting together under the umbrella of a union means that they do not have to struggle alone. They can bargain collectively and negotiate terms on a strong footing. This helps them in achieving their goals in a quick and effective manner.
2. Negotiate Better Wages With Employers
One of the most important areas where unions provide great help to workers is in negotiating better pay. The group takes into consideration various factors to know what should be the ideal wages for people at different hierarchies in an occupation or industry. It then puts pressure on employers to give increased wages to the members. It is commonly seen that people who are members of a union receive regular wage hikes as compared to non-union workers. This is because a strong group advocates the rights of the former while the latter does not have such support.
3. Helps In Improving Conditions At The Workplace
Another area where unions help workers is workplace conditions. Blue-collar employees have to usually work in conditions that are potentially hazardous. Places like a construction site or manufacturing unit can expose the workforce to dangers like falls, cuts, electrocution, etc. Unions negotiate with employing organizations to improve the working conditions of their members. They ensure that people get access to security gear and get appropriate insurance cover. They also make sure that some essential safety measures are integrated into the standard operating procedures so that employees do not have to face perilous situations on a daily basis.
4. Access To Advice And Support
Most people involved in blue-collar jobs do not have a strong educational background. This prevents them from knowing their rights and benefits. It is essential that such individuals get access to a strong support structure. Unions provide a framework that provides guidance to people in times of need. Members can approach their unions to get advice not only on work-related issues but also on subjects related to their careers. For instance, the IBEW Local 110 in St.Paul, MN clearly states in its mission statement that it is working to improve the moral, intellectual and social conditions of its members.
5. Ensuring Job Security Of The Members
Job security is another vital area where unions prove to be helpful. Employers cannot fire a worker unless they have a valid reason for doing so. Even then the procedure to dismiss the individual must be in complete accordance with the law. Unions ensure that their members are not fired by the employing organization unless there is a strong and viable reason. In case, the dismissal is legal, they make sure that the dismissed person receives all the benefits and wages that he/ she is entitled to. If a person is unfairly dismissed, he can approach his union to connect with a legal professional. For instance, if a person was fired after getting injured at the workplace, he can request his union to enable him to get advice from a work accident lawyer.
6. Helping Members Enhance Their Skills
Unions also help workers improve their professional skills. They run training programs so that members can enhance their abilities and boost their productivity. This helps people in rising in their careers and improving their financial condition. In some cases, they negotiate with employers to allow a worker to get training while maintaining his/ her employment.
These are some of the major ways in which unions help workers. Becoming a member allows people to enjoy the benefit of collective power that helps in improving their conditions. Unions give workers in a trade or industry a sense of security by protecting their rights.