BUS 372 Employee & Labor Relations Discussion 1 and Discussion 2

The Decline of Unions

The decline of union membership in the United States raises questions about whether unions will continue to exist in their present configurations. What do you think are the major problems with unions that are costing them membership? Do you think that unions will survive, or do you think they will have to change? What do you imagine unions will look like in the future? Why?

Present your views in approximately 250 words in your initial discussion post.  Respond to at least two of your peers’ posts.  Utilize the course text, weekly lecture, and at least one other scholarly source. Remember to properly cite your sources.                   


Globalization impacts all business, foreign and domestic. How does globalization impact a union in the United States? Is the impact positive or negative? What aspects of globalization do you think will have the greatest impact on unions? Why?

Present your views in approximately 250 words in your initial discussion post.  Respond to at least two of your peers’ posts.  Utilize the course text, weekly lecture, and at least one other scholarly source. Remember to properly cite your sources.                    

The 21st century brings new and different challenges to organized labor. Unions face changing attitudes towards labor, globalization, and new technology. While you read the textbook, think about what other things may affect labor in the coming years.


Changing Attitudes


Labor union membership is declining in the U.S. (Seaquist, 2015). This may be due to the implementation of effective Federal labor laws. State laws may also be affecting union membership. Right to work states allow laborers to accept employment with an organization and not join the union. There are also different labor organizing models that are being introduced to U.S. workers, such as collaboration between labor and management. Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee is utilizing a collaborative model, where labor and management work together to balance workers’ needs and rights with organizational needs. There is another influence to the effectiveness of unions—globalization.




Unions are affected by globalization just like the labor it represents. Union strikes can be ineffective against a multinational corporation. If labor strikes for better wages in Michigan, the organization will simply send the work overseas to a less expensive non-union shop. The plant can be shut down and the organization will not suffer. Unions are responding to globalization through the creation of global unions and confederations. IndustriAll Global Union, International Trade Union Confederation, and UNI Global Union are just a few of the unions operating internationally. These unions and confederations represent multiple unions from across the world. Unions must learn to work across cultures and political boundaries. Not all countries allow workers to organize. Some places organizing efforts can mean a death sentence to the workers (Seaquist, 2015).           



Technology is another influence affecting labor and unionization. Many jobs are being taken over by technology. Independent fast food workers across the U.S. are striking for better pay. They want to see a $15 minimum wage. McDonald’s is developing kiosks to replace workers (Kaye, 2014). Robots and automated manufacturing equipment are replacing workers in manufacturing and maybe soon, in fast food service. Education could also feel the effects of automation. One example, Plato Courseware, provides automated education. The course work is completely automated. The software provides all reading material, practice sessions, tests, and exams (edmentum, 2014).


Labor is expensive and technology is relatively cheap. It only makes sense that businesses would want to reduce the expense of labor through automation. Put yourself into the shoes of management. As a manager, your job is to help the organization be profitable and operate within the confines of the budget. As an example, a full time welder working for $10 an hour will earn $20,000 a year in gross wages. The employer will typically pay at least another $20,000 a year in benefits, taxes, and required insurances. Benefits are a huge expense. Full coverage medical insurance is very expensive. The cost of some medical benefit packages can exceed the employee’s wages. Taxes are also very expensive. While the employee pays the income taxes, the employer pays a matching contribution to Social Security and must pay unemployment insurance and workman’s compensation insurances. Workman’s compensation insurance for some occupations, such as a welder, is equal to 100% of the employee’s wages.


As you can see, labor is very expensive. Now, let’s examine the cost of a welding robot. A new wire-welding robot costs approximately $45,000. The robot can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A single employee can monitor many welding robots. Automation of manufacturing systems is so efficient that 50 employees can be replaced for every $2 million dollars spent on automation. For the annual cost of a single employee, a manufacturer can purchase a new robot and operate it around the clock. Labor does not stand a chance when bargaining against that kind of efficiency. Combine the technology with globalization and inexpensive labor in overseas markets, manufacturing labor is now forced to work at a competitive wage based on global wage scales. U.S. manufacturing labor can be replaced with technology or outsourcing. That is why wages have plummeted and union influence has declined in the manufacturing sector.




As you can see, unions face changing attitudes towards labor, globalization, and new technology. While you study this chapter, try to balance your views between management and labor. Remember, this course contains bias towards the worker’s right and tends to demonstrate a pro-union attitude. That is okay. The course is designed to give you, a new manager, a view of the world from labor’s perspective. As you go forth into your new management career, keep in mind that the people working for you have needs and rights. They are not simply machines, but living, breathing, human beings. Yes, management has power over the employees. But a good manager and leader will not abuse the power. A good leader will respect the workers and do what is right for both the organization and the labor population. You have studied some of the darkest moments in labor history and have seen a glimpse of the future labor movement. Use this information to help you become an effective leader that works efficiently with labor. Good luck with your future career and the rest of your degree program.




Forbes School of Business Faculty



edmentum. (2014). Plato courseware.Retrieved from http://www.edmentum.com/products-services/plato-courseware


Kaye, K. (2014). McDonald’s replacing cashiers with machines.Retrieved from http://legalinsurrection.com/2014/08/mcdonalds-replacing-cashiers-with-machines/


Seaquist, G. (2015). Employee and labor relations: A practical guide. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education.

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