Chapter 20 Lesson 2

Business in America: Labor
Since 1970, the size of the labor force has
In those years, the number of workers
belonging to a labor union has fallen.
A labor union is an organization of
workers that seek to improve the wages
and working conditions of its members.
In the early 1970s, about 1 of every four
workers belonged to a union.
Today one in eight is a union member.
One reason for the shift in union
membership is the shift from
manufacturing jobs to service jobs.
Traditionally fewer workers in service
jobs have been union members.
Workers in many important jobs and
industries belong to unions.
Large numbers of coal miners, airplane
pilots, and truck drivers are union
Unions have seen gains where teachers
and gov`t. employees work.
There are two types of Unions.
A union where all members work at the same
craft are called trade unions.
Examples are unions formed by bakers and by
A union that brings together skilled and
unskilled workers from the same industry is
called an industrial union.
An industrial union might have electricians,
carpenters, and laborers who work together to
manufacture a product.
An example is the United Auto Workers (UAW).
IN the past they were mostly formed by
industrial workers.
Today, even actors and professional athletes
have unions.
Another change is the growth in the number of
government workers who are union members.
About 1.6 million of these workers belong to the
American Federation of State, County, and
Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Prison guards, garbage collectors, and school
nurses are part of this union.
The basic unit of each union is
the local.
A local consist of all members of
a particular union who work in
one factory, one company, or
one geographical area.
All of a union`s locals together
form a national union.
Many national unions belong to
the American Federation of
Labor and Congress of
Industrial Organizations, or
This union is the largest in the
12 million members, the second
largest is Change to win, with
about 5.5 Members.
Employees in the work place can not
form a union unless a majority of
them vote in favor of it.
An agency of the federal
government , the National Labor
Relations Board (NLRB), makes sure
that these elections are carried out
fairly and honesty.
A common way unions organize a
workplace is with a union shop.
Nearly half the states have the right
to work laws, which ban unions.
Other states have what is called a
modified union shop.
In this circumstance, or situation, a
worker does not have to join a
When a company`s workers
have a union, the union and
the company carry out
collective bargaining.
In this process, officials from
the union and the company
meet to discuss the workers`
The contract sets the terms
for working at the company.
These talks often focus on
wages and benefits.
With most contracts, the two
sides reach agreement
during the bargaining.
One method unions use to is
to call a strike.
In a strike, all union
members refuse to work.
Striking workers usually
stand in public view carrying
signs stating they are on
This tactic is called picketing.
The goals are to embarrass
the company and to build
public support for the strike.
Another tool is to boycott the
This is meant to financially
hurt the company.
The employers strongest tool is the
lock out.
In a lockout, the employer hope that
the loss of income will force workers
to accept company terms.
During the lockout, the company
often hires replacement workers so
it can continue to do business.
Companies may try to stop union
actions by asking for an injunction.
An injunction is a legal order from a
court to prevent some activity.
The company may ask the court to
limit picketing or to prevent or stop
a strike.
When the parties can not agree on a
contract, they have other options, or
They can try mediation.
In this approach, they bring in a third party
who tries to help them reach an agreement.
They can also choose arbitration.
With this method, the third party listens to
both sides and the decides how to settle the
Both parties agree in advance to accept the
third party`s decision.
If a strike threatens the nations welfare, the
government can step in.
Federal law allows the president to order a
cooling off period.
The cooling off period lasts for 80 days.
If there is no agreement after that time, the
workers have the right to go back on strike.
Ina n extreme situation, the government
can take over a company or an industry