How Do Labor Unions Work?


Quick Answer

Labor unions negotiate collectively with employers on behalf of workers. They seek to improve wages, working conditions and work hours for their members, among other things. They claim to represent the voice of the voiceless and work toward improving the welfare of all members.

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Full Answer

Labor unions represent members by negotiating for benefits and pay raises as well as dealing with security and safety issues. Some unions also seek to limit the number of employees in an organization in order to drive up wages, according to the Heritage Foundation. Economists have established that while such a move benefits the remaining employees, it hurts consumers generally, especially those who are denied job opportunities.

As a negotiating tool, labor unions may use strikes during collective bargain situations. If the employer and the union fail to reach an agreement, union members may stop working or resort to a go-slow. Once a union goes on strike, other unions within the same industry may follow suit as a show of solidarity for their striking colleagues.

Labor unions are instrumental when it comes to securing legislated labor protection rights such as overtime, health insurance and general safety as well as championing the right to family and medical leave. This is beside campaigning for the various rights of union members.

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