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US Labor Unions and National Labor Relations Act

Regarding the current situation with labor in the United States, a raising number of employers are forced to sign the labor union contracts to conform to the National Labor Relations Act. According to the definition, a labor union contract or collective bargain is a bilateral, multilayer agreement between a labor union and an employer, which codifies the terms and conditions of the employment procedure for all union members. Normally, the functions of unions resolve themselves to dealing with members’ questions about wages or the working environment and representing the interests of the latter in exchange for their monthly dues. However, the actions unions take usually interfere in the company’s business processes and create plenty of challenges for the management staff to deal with. In my personal opinion, working with a union contract carries negative consequences for every company’s operation and is never chosen as a preferred option.

Among the problems a collective bargain agreement creates for an employer, preparing for contract negotiations comes forth as the most complex one. As Godard and Frege (2013) highlight, the unions are likely to cause employers to adopt bureaucratic practices and slow down working processes. During the preparation, managers are forced to consult with compensation specialists about wages, increases, and various health and retirement benefits and report to the unions about their decisions. In the majority of cases, the process is rather time-consuming and often leads to the assumption of the company’s interests. Moreover, unions might require hiring an in-house specialist who would handle immediate questions of the union members. In this case, it creates more inconveniences and stipulates difficulties in the matters of payroll management. Recognition programs become harder to fulfill due to financial issues.

Another notable issue with labor union contracts is employee grievances. In the case with a non-union environment, employees talk to managers or supervisors directly and can discuss an occurring problem without any excessive bureaucracy involved. Thus, one can express his or her concerns, argue a disciplinary warning, or even ask for promotion without a third party’s intervention. Labor union contracts, however, provide specific instructions regarding handling employees’ complaints and issues connected with working conditions. The instructions presuppose writing grievances concerning any occurring misunderstanding and conducting further investigations by the union representatives. Naturally, these occurrences create challenges for managers since conflict resolution is brought to an inter-organizational level. Whenever a situation of this kind arises, employers “do seek to project a negative outlook to their unions” and start treating a collective bargain agreement as a problem to avoid by all means (Bova, 2013, p. 14).

In closing, one should admit that labor unions represent challenges for supervisors not only in unionized but in non-union environments as well. The fact unions may attempt to organize workers forces managers to maintain a workplace that is totally union-free and corresponds the key requirements of an average company employee. My opinion about labor unions causing an overall negative impact on the managers’ work and the performance of an entire organization is supported by the research results of the known scholars. The occurrence of excessive bureaucracy, employee grievances, and allotment of extra funds can serve as the major evidence of the statement’s rationality. For the situation to be improved, one expects that serious changes of the main principles of the National Labor Relations Act are made. Ideally, these changes would protect the interests of both employers and employees.

References

Bova, F. (2013). Labor unions and management’s incentive to signal a negative outlook. Contemporary Accounting Research, 30(1), 14-41.

Godard, J., & Frege, C. (2013). Labor unions, alternative forms of representation, and the exercise of authority relations in US workplaces. ILR Review, 66(1), 142-168.