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Labor Union Numbers and Their Role in Workers’ Rights

What is a Labor Union Number?

Unions are organizations of workers that band together to improve their wages, working conditions, and opportunities for advancement. They also play a strong role in national politics, usually on the side of Democrats.

The OLMS Office of Labor-Management Standards promotes voluntary compliance with the LMRDA by educating union officers and others about reporting requirements, disclosures, and safeguards. The Office also administers the Voluntary Compliance Partnership Program.

Number of Members

Labor unions are organized groups of workers that unite to make decisions about conditions affecting their work. They negotiate with employers to secure higher wages, benefits and safer workplaces. There are over 60 trade unions in the United States representing more than 14 million people. Many are members of one of the two large umbrella organizations: the AFL-CIO and the Strategic Organizing Center, which split from the AFL-CIO in 2005-2006.

In addition to negotiating with employers, unions often lobby at the state and federal level. They also participate in political campaigns, generally on the side of the Democratic party.

Many unions have safety clauses in their contracts that require workers to report any unsafe working conditions. These clauses help ensure the safety of employees and protect them from retaliation by their employers. They also ensure that workers who have been injured are returned to lighter, less strenuous work, known as light duty, when they return to work.

Number of Officers

Union officers are members of the organization who have executive authority and responsibility for policy making. They are elected at least every 3 years in local unions and every 4 years in intermediate bodies and national and international labor organizations. The constitution and bylaws of a labor organization may prescribe additional election requirements.

Every member in good standing has equal rights and privileges in nominating candidates, voting in union elections or referendums, attending and participating at membership meetings, and in deliberations at such meetings subject to reasonable rules and regulations contained in the constitution and bylaws of the organization.

The agency Labor Liaisons are employees, designated by their agencies’ directors, who are responsible for all labor issues and grievances at their respective agencies. See the Directory of Agency Directors, Labor Liaisons and Union Presidents for more information. The OLRCB handles 21 working conditions collective bargaining agreements for District agencies. Those agreements include Compensation Units 1 and 2. OLRCB is also responsible for all wage and hour enforcement matters under the District’s labor relations statute.

Number of Committees

A union may form a committee to organize its members into a bargaining unit. This committee consists of workers who are designated by the union to sign authorization cards, meet with co-workers and hand out leaflets in support of a representation campaign. If enough signatures are collected, the employer may recognize the union through a card check instead of an election.

Each member in good standing shall have the right to vote and the privilege of attending and participating in meetings of the labor organization, subject to reasonable rules and regulations in its constitution and bylaws. Elections shall be conducted fairly, including adequate safeguards to assure a free and impartial ballot.

The LMRDA also requires unions to file periodic reports with the Labor Management Relations Board and establishes standards for trusteeships and elections. If a member believes that the union has violated these provisions, he can file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor. The Secretary will investigate the complaint and, if appropriate, conduct a hearing.

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American Labor Movement in the Early 20th Century: Turmoil, Achievements, and Struggle

The Early 20th Century Was a Time of Great Turmoil for America’s Labor Movement

The early 20th century was a time of great turmoil for America’s labor movement. Despite this, there were important achievements. Congress established a new Department of Labor and enacted legislation that addressed the most pressing problems facing working men and women.

The AFL disavowed its earlier antagonisms with black trade unionists and, when the AFL and CIO merged in 1955, included black workers.

The Industrial Revolution

As industrialization progressed, society changed dramatically. Agrarian societies gave way to cities and factories centered on steam power and machine tools. The new factory life spelled bad news for the poor and working class people who were pushed into these factory jobs with low wages.

Workers resorted to collective groups and unions as weapons in their struggle against demeaning work conditions. Although these unions grew in number, they struggled for support because of the negative publicity surrounding labor strikes.

Factory owners also sought to suppress union activity with a variety of tactics. Courts would grant injunctions to stop union activities, and striking workers where often fired or replaced by scabs (people hired to do manual labor). A strong capitalist ethos existed at the time which stressed the sanctity of private property and viewed union activity as an infringement on that right. This ideological stance provided motivation for many managers to resist unions. Slowly, this hands off policy began to change as public opinion shifted.

The Gilded Age

As America shifted from an agricultural society to an industrial economy, it created many jobs and expanded the opportunities for women. But it also increased the gap between wealthy magnates like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan and their workers. These wealthy entrepreneurs dominated the era with their massive monopolies, which often crushed any small business that got in their way. They had a hand in city, state and national politics and were often portrayed as robber barons by the first investigative journalists known as “muckrakers.”

In contrast, many laborers struggled for survival in this new world. They worked long hours in unsafe and unhealthy conditions for very low pay. Many of them were unable to afford housing or medical care. In an attempt to fight these working conditions, workers organized into collective groups and unions. These groups would fight for their rights in the form of strikes and boycotts, but they rarely were successful as bosses used intimidation and violence to squash their efforts.

The Progressive Era

Despite the ebbing of organized labor’s power since World War I, the ethos of solidarity and questioning managerial authority still resonates in a culture that venerates self-reliance and individualism. The recent resurgence of Occupy Wall Street and renewed efforts to combat income inequality suggest that many Americans remain concerned about the corrosive effects of inequality on society and the economy.

In the early 20th century, Progressive reformers sought to stabilize and rationalize labor relations with new legislation and federal regulatory agencies. For instance, the National Labor Relations Act of 1913 upgraded the Department of Labor to cabinet rank and established industrial commissions to mediate and arbitrate labor disputes.

Small groups of domestic workers, dock workers in Galveston and Houston, sugar harvesters, phosphate miners, railroad car cleaners and firemen, and timber workers began to organize their own local unions. These groups formed what would become a significant black labor tradition, albeit one that was largely isolated from white unions and the larger American worker movement.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression found the nation and much of the world sliding down a steep slope of economic disaster. Businesses failed by the thousands, production plunged and unemployment skyrocketed. Many workers blamed Wall Street speculators and bankers. They demanded a higher standard of living and better working conditions.

Workers in various trades and industries formed unions, such as railroad and dockworkers in numerous African countries, and miners in South Africa, Chile and Argentina. Some of these groups criticized the legal system and sought to bypass it with direct action like strikes.

One of the more ambitious labor organizations was the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). It attempted to unite workers of all industries into a single industrial union for the revolutionary purpose of overthrowing capitalism.

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Navigating Labor Relations: Law, Compliance, and Conflict Management.

Labor Relations Questions Answered

Labor relations managers must be skilled at interacting with both workers and management to ensure a harmonious work environment. They must also be familiar with the legalities of labor disputes.

This question is meant to gauge your understanding of the law and your ability to remain objective in difficult situations. You should also explain how you would encourage open communication between employees and management to resolve conflicts in a timely manner.

How do you stay up-to-date on labor law and industry trends?

With constantly changing labor laws at the federal, state, and local levels, it can be a challenge for employers to stay up-to-date. The good news is that there are resources available to help. For example, Poster Compliance Center provides email notifications of mandatory changes to labor law posters for every state and city.

Another helpful resource is JD Supra, a legal “wiki” and publisher of online commentary and analysis from lawyers across industries and practice areas, including labor and employment law. You can sign up to receive daily updates on top workplace legal topics by following a particular industry and receiving a morning brief in your email inbox.

When employees ask about unions, it’s important for management to know what they are thinking. Depending on the employee’s motivation for asking, the company should prepare accordingly to stave off a potential union organizing effort. Those preparations should include training for managers and supervisors on the focus of unions as well as strategies to remain union-free.

How do you manage a conflict between two different unions?

When two different unions have a conflict, it often involves the issue of bargaining. This can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to issues such as wages. One side’s gain may mean the other’s loss. For example, if a union negotiates a higher wage for its members, it will probably cost the company more money to pay employees and other expenses.

The question of whether or not to organize a union can be one of the most difficult questions a company can face. It requires thoughtful answers that encourage workers to stay union-free without violating NLRA protections for employee rights to engage in protected concerted activities.

It’s also important for leaders to have the right emotional intelligence to avoid inadvertently saying something that could be perceived as negative or even hostile towards an employee who is considering organizing a union. Take a look at our blog, How to Determine Your Vulnerability to Unionization, to learn more about how to manage these sensitive conversations.

How do you ensure compliance with labor agreements?

The most important thing that labor and management can do is develop a strategy that meets their goals. They should consider the advantages and disadvantages of using a compliance approach, as well as what impact that may have on their relationship.

If you suspect that your employees are being represented by an organization that violates its own standards of conduct, you should contact the nearest OLMS field office and file a complaint. In addition, it is important to regularly audit your business to ensure compliance. This can include reviewing payroll records and job descriptions.

It is also critical to train your leaders on the focus of unions and current tactics. This can help prevent them from making mistakes that could lead to costly fines or legal issues. It is also a good idea to seek professional advice from attorneys, accountants, and HR consultants who specialize in labor law. They can review complex regulations and advise you on how to stay compliant.

How do you promote positive labor relations?

Developing positive employee relations should be the focus of management. This includes making sure employees feel valued and that their questions and concerns are heard. It also means ensuring employees get training and development opportunities, as well as having an open-door policy for discussing workplace issues with leadership.

In addition, a holistic leadership approach should involve regular leadership training on labor laws and unions. This can help ensure your leaders understand what to do if employees are thinking about unionizing and what to expect during a union organizing campaign.

Finally, a positive employee relations strategy should include ensuring your leaders are using wise words when discussing labor issues with employees. For example, a court recently ruled that managers could be held liable for the language they use when talking to workers about unions or other issues in the workplace. This underscores the importance of incorporating a leadership development program into your overall talent strategy. This is particularly important during a year like this with changes to labor law and union tactics on the horizon.

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