Are Labor Unions Effective?

By Mark P. Cussen, San Francisco Chronicle

At the dawn of the 20th century, heavy industry and big business were in their infancy and a great deal of human labor was needed in order to facilitate the mushrooming Industrial Revolution. This quickly led to widespread abuse of workers, including children, who were often consigned to sweatshops where they were forced to toil for several hours a day. However, workers eventually united to form labor unions that stood up to the big corporations and negotiated better pay and working conditions for millions of employees and also demanded the passing of child labor laws. The effectiveness of labor unions, however has always been a source of controversy.

Who Do Unions Benefit?
Of course, labor unions were created for the benefit of their members. The union represents the workers to the employers and negotiates on their behalf to secure better wages and working conditions. Unions also run the largest non-military job training service in the country and often partner with organizations such as the United Way to perform various community services. Research that tracks the wages of unionized versus non-unionized employees indicates that the wages of union workers exceed that of non-union employees by about 8 to 12%.

http://www.sfgate.com/business

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