Discuss your opinion regarding whether unions are still relevant and necessary in today’s work environment. What other means might be used to ensure ‘‘employee voice’’ in the workplace?
A thin line differentiates employee grievances and employee complaints. Compare and constrast the difference.
Do you believe that labor unions should use the benefits of labor arbitration as part of the union’s strategy to recruit new members? Give your reasons.
List the main factors that may help to explain the wage differential between three jobs in an organization with which you are familiar.
How have the major labor relations laws helped or hindered the development of unions?
Review & Reflect
Review and reflect on what you learned in the past 8 weeks. What is the most practical and easily applied lesson you learned? What was the hardest to grasp? Why? What else do you need to know about Labor Relations?
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I think the question of the relevance of unions in today’s work environment depends greatly on who you are, where you work, and what you do there. If you work for Google, for example, prima facie it seems unlikely you need union representation. The same could be said for Amazon – parts of Amazon, that is. If you are one of the firm’s engineers or programmers, the type of talent over whom the titans of today’s tech and finance industries go to war every day to secure, then it seems somewhat unlikely you need the help of a union to represent your employment interests. However, if you work in one of Amazon’s fulfilment warehouses in the US, your work picture looks radically different; while you may be paid above minimum wage, it is likely that wage is yet hardly a living wage; you may not be given enough hours to qualify as full-time, even if the distinction may amount to little, especially considering your position is likely little more than temporary; your workday is likely brutally demanding in a physical way, with little in the way of breaks; and the threat of unreasonable termination is ever-present in a way which makes “temporary” a flattering description of your job status. And this state of affairs is very much the status quo for great swathes of the labor force, given the economy’s inexorable change into one where service rather than manufacturing is dominant – be it in retail, for the likes of Amazon and Walmart, or, for example, the fast food industry. But why think unions would make a difference in these contexts? Because the world offers a readymade control condition to lend weight to the idea that unions would help, where unionized Amazon warehouses in Germany offer incomparably better employment conditions.
The question of what other means might be used to ensure “employee voice” in the workplace is a critical one. A overly optimistic answer would be to think that our elected representatives need to do more in the way of advocating for our protection in the workplace – but to call such a hope overly optimistic is likely generous in the extreme. Another possibility would be to militantly use the tactics of shame to keep employers from running roughshod over their workers – there have never been so many ways in...