Wage Disputes and Unions

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What's the Union's Role in a Wage Dispute?

Unions represent employees and routinely argue for increased wages and benefits. When unions and employers engage in wage negotiations, wage disputes often occur. In order to enforce their position through collective bargaining agreements, unions organize boycotts and strikes. 

Unions first began engaging in wage disputes during the Industrial Revolution. Workers would congregate at the bar after work and share stories of intolerable wages and working conditions. They would eventually form a cohesive group, and the leader would go to management to argue for higher wages.

Workers Can Assist Unions in Wage Disputes

Initially, courts were not sensitive to the plight of common workers; the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 had been passed to prevent workers from picketing outside the factory. However, the Clayton Act of 1914 and the Norris-La Guardia Act of 1932 allowed workers to strike during wage disputes. The Wagner Act of 1935 upholds the right of workers to join unions and assist unions in wage disputes. However, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 prohibited unions from coercing employees to join their wage disputes. 

The Current Status of Unions in the United States

Union numbers per capita are down since their height in the 1950s. As a result of this, as well as from downsizing and outsourcing, some economists hold that workers have lost much of their power to negotiate in wage disputes. Today, unions represent a shrinking segment of highly trained workers – not the typical minimum wage worker. 

Why Seek an Attorney's Advice?

If you are an employee, a qualified employment attorney can review your rights and concerning union membership. If you believe that your employer or union has discriminated against you, an employment attorney can represent you in bringing legal action.

If you are an employer or union's representative, a qualified labor attorney can help draft a collective bargaining agreement and can assist with wage negotiations.

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Last Modified: 09-10-2013 02:51 PM PDT

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