As a member of a labor union, you cannot be fired without cause. You have a powerful force that can back you up in cases where you feel your rights are being violated. You have consistency in work policies. You don’t have to negotiate for raises, because they are spelled out in the union contract. Labor unions, however, also have disadvantages to both workers and employers.
A powerful bargaining tool of labor unions is a labor strike. Stopping productivity can be a nightmare for employers. For workers, there is no guarantee that the strike will work to produce the benefits the union is seeking. There is no compensation for the loss of wages while a worker is on strike.
Labor unions cannot guarantee your job if you strike. Your employer is not required by law to hire you back once the strike is over. He can choose instead to retain the worker that he hired to take your place. If this happens, your only hope of retaining your position is to be called back by your employer if that position becomes vacant again. While unions are known for providing job security, you don't enjoy security in the event of a strike.
In a company with union representation, promotions and pay are largely determined by seniority. Employers have few options available to motivate their workforce to work harder, produce more and suggest creative solutions to the problems faced by the business. In fact, unions may put pressure on employee whose production is more than the rest of the workforce. The union may see this as conduct detrimental to the other union members.
If you work at a union establishment, you are usually required to pay union dues. These dues are deducted automatically from each paycheck. Even if you choose not to be part of the labor union, you are often not exempt from paying these dues out of your wages. If you disagree with the decisions of the union, you still must pay for the representation.
In a union workplace, the majority makes decisions for the entire workforce. If you disagree with the decision of the majority, you have no voice. Union representation can be a powerful force for change in favor of a company's employees, but that powerful force effects change in the direction the majority wants to go.
Unions can inhibit the ability of a company to remain competitive. Union wages are often much larger than those of non-union workers. This causes the price of goods produced by union workers to be higher than the competition. Also, productivity is not rewarded or encouraged by a union structure. Less productivity reduces the ability of a company to compete for business.
- Mackinac Center: Disadvantages of Union Representation
- Understanding Social Problems; Linda A. Mooney, David Knox, and Caroline Schacht; 2008
- Motley Fool - Unions: Good or Bad?