Unions in America provides a concise and current introduction to what America's labor unions do and why they do it. In this engaging text, author Gary Chaison portrays America's unions as complex, self-governing organizations that are struggling to regain their lost membership, bargaining power, and political influence. This accessible textbook offers an impartial overview of American unions that ranges from the struggle for recognition from employers in their earliest years to their present-day difficulties.
Chapter Four: The Union as Bargaining Agent
The Union as Bargaining Agent
Unions are engaged in politics, they have social activities and join community coalitions to further workers’ rights, and they organize new members, but the very heart of what unions do is represent workers in collective bargaining and enforce collective agreements at workplaces.1 Quite simply, workers select or form unions to serve as their bargaining agents and to negotiate with their employers over wages, hours, and conditions of employment. Most workers—about four-fifths of private sector workers and about two-thirds of government workers—have legal rights to be represented by unions and to be covered under collective agreements, although we saw in the previous chapter that only about 13 percent of all workers are actually represented.2 Of course, employers ...