Since the rise of industrial society labor unions have been at the forefront of the fight for better working conditions and treatment in the workplace. As more workers moved from agricultural work into factories and mines, many faced horrible working conditions including long hours, low pay, child labor, and health risks. Many children and women worked in factories, earning lower pay than men. The government was not helpful - actually doing little to protect workers and limit these injustices.
Labor unions fought and won battles against child labor, long hours of work, the lack of breaks and lunchtimes, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, and fighting for overtime pay. The labor movement has led to reforms in the minimum wage, paid holidays, equity with regard to wages, the right to Union representation, and the achievement of the eight-hour workday and two-day weekend. Labor Unions in the United States represent solidarity among the working class, bringing people together to fight for better rights, wages, and benefits. Unions are a powerful influence in the United States. Unions not only continue to ensure that workers continually receive the respect and treatment they deserve; they also work to achieve goals that benefit the broader society.
Collective Bargaining Agreement: One United Voice
The largest difference between Union and non-union workplaces is the collective agreement, which is your contract. Non-union workplaces usually operate under the At-Will doctrine. This means that an employer can manage any way that they want including firing employees without just cause and giving employees no rights, benefits, privileges, considerations, and much more. Without a collective bargaining agreement, employees have little to no employee input in regards to their working conditions. You are at the mercy of managers who may play favorites and change the terms and conditions of your employment at a whim.
A Union environment provides workers a written and legally binding contract that has been collectively written and agreed upon by the workers themselves! Collective agreements cover areas such as wages, benefits, and the conditions that govern their workplace. With a contract is negotiated there are enforcement procedures that allow employees to assure that the agreement is honored. Collective agreements give Union workers rights and protections that are not available to other workers.