History of Labor Relations

The Importance of the History of Labor

Human resource deals with all working relations involving employees; therefore, there is a need to have knowledge on the evolution of labor and labor relations. There have been changes over time related to the management of labor and labor unions. Studies have shown that HR functions are affected by the existence ot non-existence of labor unions, their development and implications (Rosenfeld, 2014). Thus, HR managers, who play a big role in determining the employees’ wage and welfare propositions, need to know how labor and its related laws and practices have evolved over time. This knowledge enables the managers to deal with the legal frameworks and legislative processes affecting the operation of labor and labor relations (unionization). These frameworks have been undergoing evolution, both at the domestic and global levels, over time. Only through close study of the evolution/history, HR managers can gain a good understanding of the recent practices involved in hiring while also ensuring compliance with the regulations and rules of their unions.

Labor Unions’ Shift in Power and Membership

There are numerous factors that have contributed to the observed shift in the power and growth of labor unions in the U.S. First, a number of authors have attributed the decline to the 2008-2009 economic struggles. The argument has been that the rise and fall of labor unions in terms of power and membership was experience between two historical worst economic collapses. It is demonstrated by the fact that in 2010, the country’s union membership dropped to 11%, which was the lowest percentage ever experienced in 70 years (Poell, Rocco, & Roth, 2015). Another reason for the trend is the disagreement among workers on whether it is necessary for them to unionize and what kind of a union to form. This has resulted in fatal power struggles in places of work and the citizens’ love-hate attitude when it comes to organized labor. Some workers see labor unions as anachronism at their best and obstacles to progress worst scenarios.

At the same time, there have been certain changes in the labor laws that have seen the shrinking of labor unions. For instance, prior to the enactment of Employees Free Choice Act, the initial system required that those who wanted to join any union should follow a very long process. It meant that in order to be certified, employees took a long time going through various processes and election. The process made unionization very complicated. Finally, labor unions were replaced by the HR department that was meant to help in managing and working with labor. Today, HR managers are seen to be very efficient in handling the various difficulties and issues arising between workers and managements.

The Future of Labor Unions in the US

With only about an eighth of the country’s workers belonging to unions, including those employed in the public sectors, unions’ influence in the 21st century and their future is dwindling. This raises the question of whether the unions will become irrelevant in the American society. Even in companies where they have remained strong, like in General Motors, unions are facing threats of closure from the management. For instance, unionization has been explained as the reason for GM’s current problems. GM has not enjoyed peace in United Auto Workers union. Through consecutive negotiations, the company promised to pay health care benefits and health pensions that it has not been able to honor. Other companies have learnt from such mistakes and avoided unionization to avoid hefty wages and benefits to unions (Poell, Rocco., & Roth, 2015). However, with the various changes made on the federal laws guiding unionization, especially the signing of a new law to allow card-check voting by President Obama, it is expected that there will be a rise in unionization. The law called Employees Free Choice Act allows officials of any labor union to be declared official if their managers collect signatures from the majority of employees.

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