Meeting Member Needs ( Employee & Labor Relations class)

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Given today’s globally competitive work environment, assess whether larger, more powerful unions (such as the AFL-CIO and the SEIU) favorably represent their members, or if smaller, more targeted unions would better meet the needs of their members

Jul 2nd, 2014

I would think that the more a union diversifies its membership, the tougher it is to represent each facet effectively.  For example: In Oklahoma City, the teachers are represented by the Laborers Union, not the American Federation of teachers (Sloan & Witney, 2010, p. 8).  The Laborers Union primarily represents construction workers. How can such a large organization represent so many different workers in radically different fields with different skillsets?  I guess I can only view it as a corporation, with “field offices” or as the unions call “locals” that represent the local population and then feeds information back to the top.

I could see the benefits of a smaller union that primarily caters to one type of worker.  Take the UAW for example.  The UAW does have other facets (Aerospace and Agriculture), but primarily it represents the auto worker.  It isn’t as large as the Service Employees International Union which has 2.2 million members in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico (http://www.seiu.org/a/ourunion/fast-facts.php).  The UAW’s membership has now been reduced to just less than 400,000; however it does have 600,000 retired members (http://www.uaw.org/node/39).  The smaller union may be able to understand the worker, the business, and the strategy of the organization better than a much larger union with many different industries.  Being small doesn’t always mean powerless, considering the UAW could be contributed to one of the largest bankruptcy cases in American history, General Motors.  The UAW definitely played a role in the downfall; however, they took care of their members.  When GM showed the door to many white collar workers, or salaried workers, the UAW made sure the members had health care, and other benefits that the salaried workers didn’t get.   

Sloane, A. A., & Witney, F. (2010). Labor Relations (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall


Jul 2nd, 2014

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