.. fight this latest trend. Management Approach Corporations and the management teams that run them, exist for the primary purpose of making a profit. These corporations are not social entities who exist for the betterment of there work force. Rather they are business entities that exist for the financial betterment of the owners and share holders. The interest of the business in many cases goes against the interest of the union.
One is concerned about maximizing profits to the business the other is concerned about maximizing profits to its members. Wages While it is true that union workers have better wage scales than their non union counterparts, it must also be understood, at what cost this occurs. There is not an unlimited supply of moneys that an organization possesses. Union contracts by their nature are not open to discussion before the end of the contract. Unions themselves are not open to the concept of give backs, regardless of how the corporation is performing. Unions members are more likely to retain negotiated treatments, to the detriment of their fellow workers, rather than give these up. Morgan Reynolds states, in Power and Privilege, Union pricing tends to increase the average level of unemployment among non union workers.
The average level of unemployment among union members also is higher because of the inflexibility of union pricing. ( 165 ) What this means is many unions would rather except temporary layoffs than concede bargain for wages and benefits. The inflexibility of Unions to respond to economic crisis, ties the hands of many employers and prevents them from quickly responding to market conditions. The ever increasing union pay requirements become an a catch 22 situation without end. Unions demand pay increases, corporations raise associated costs to pay for them.
The same union members demand more increases to keep up with the corporations increased prices. Benefits An ever increasing proportion of compensation goes towards fringe benefits. These benefits are no longer considered as a luxury provided in excess of wages but rather as part and parcel of the compensation package. Unions treat this as a requirement not a benefit. Unions are as inflexible with benefits as they are with wage. The most pressing issue concerning business today is the rising cost of Health Care. Many of the unions are unwilling to absorb this ever increasing cost.
Companies are being expected to pick up the cost regardless of circumstance. An argument can be made that the unions, by increasing wages, is at the same time taking non wage benefits away from there workers. Working Conditions One of the primary reasons Unions were formed was the need to protect workers from unsafe, unsanitary, hostile working conditions. With the ever increasing regulatory nature of Federal, State and Local government, this need has been removed. Federal laws dictate wages, such as the minimum wage law, OT compensation. The Fair Labor Standards Act, dictates payment for many workers beyond the 40 hour per week.
Safety concerns in the work place are regulated and inspected by OSHA. Currently OSHA inspect millions of work places each year and levies fines against companies who fail to follow federal guidelines. Many would have you believe the vast amount of government regulation concerning wages, benefits and working conditions, has made the need for unions obsolete. Goals Jonathan P. Hiatt General Council of the AFL/CIO states in his article for the AFL/CIO news, Union Survival for the Twenty-First Century, the labor movement must develop strategies that respond to two trends which together are wreaking havoc on the lives of working men and women. ( 1 ) The trends he speaks of are the ever increasing gap between the high paid skilled worker and the low paid labor.
The latter comprises most of our work force and is the lower educated members of society. The second trend is the trend to hire what is perceived as a temporary work force. It is the goal of unions of this nation to organize and represent these temp workers. They are viewing the hiring of these peripheral workers as a company ploy to exploit American workers. Trade unionism in America is committed to continuing its role as a bargaining agent for core workers while it seeks to organize this new temp worker.
Management’s long term goals must be to guide American industry into the Global Market place while being as competitive as possible. We must do that while maintaining an ethical treatment of our work force. Management for the twenty first century must change the work force policies it has implemented towards the end of this century. We cannot show the disregard of our work force that reaped havoc on so many of our workers. American Industry cannot succeed without the cooperation and loyalty of its workers.
An absolute goal of both management and Unions must be a cooperative open dialogue. The adversarial, confrontational relationship must be replaced by one of a common direction. America is no longer faced with an internal marketplace. Most all goods and services can be produced cheaper and just as easy abroad. Labor and Management alike must develop competitive techniques which can compete in a global market place while providing the benefits and compensation we have all come to expect.
Compromise Jerry Borenstein makes an excellent point in his book Unions in Transition. In it he states, Perhaps nothing better illustrates the profound changes in the role of unions in society today than what has happened in the auto industry itself. The current President of the UAW, Doug Fraser, has been elected to the board of directors of the Chrysler Corporation. ( 13 ) This exemplifies the need for Union leadership and management to coexist and ultimately succeed. Management needs to understand the changing nature and demographics of its work force. It needs to address the social issues that in previous generations it did not have to be involved with.
It has done so as exampled by the implementation of child care programs, dependent care accounts for elderly family members and flex time for varying needs modern family life demands. Unions on the other hand need to take responsibility for the overall success of the companies that employ their members. We are beginning to here signs of Union leadership working in a cooperative partnership rather than an adversarial one. The key to success is the partnership of both factions towards a common goal. It is my belief that Unions are every much a needed force today as they were 100 years ago. If left unchecked corporations will continuously breech the line of ethical treatment of workers. This is evidenced by the maltreatment of much of the management work forces of the downsized corporations.
Because of the lack of solidarity and representation, much of the management work force of such companies as NYNEX, IBM and others have been thrown to the wolves after long tenures of service. Unions provide a means of checking the uncontrolled power of large corporations. This is not a one way street, though. Unions must come to terms with the public perception of them as money grabbers with criminal leadership. They must do all they can to cleanse themselves of corruptness. Else they will drive themselves out of existence. This will be to the detriment of the American Society as a whole.