Other Union Issues Other possible issues might include such specific details as working hours, overtime policies, rest period arrangements, differential pay plans for shift employees, the use of temporary workers, grievance procedures, and allowable union activities (dues collection, union bulletin boards, and so forth).
An impasse occurs when, after a series of bargaining sessions, management and labor have failed to agree on a new contract or a contract to replace an agreement that is about to expire. Although it is generally agreed that both parties suffer when an impasse is reached and some action by one part against the other is taken, each side can use several tactics to support its cause until the impasse is resolved.
Union Tactics When their demands are not met, unions may bring a variety of tactics to the bargaining table. Chief among these are the strike, which may be supported by pickets and boycotts, and the work slowdown.
The Strike A strike occurs when employees temporarily walk off the job and refuse to work. Most strikes in the United States are economic strikes, triggered by stalemates over mandatory bargaining items, including such noneconomic issues as working hours.
Not all strikes are legal. Sympathy strikes (secondary strikes), which occur when one union strikes in sympathy with action initiated by another, may violate the sympathetic union's contract. Wildcat strikes—strikes unauthorized by a union that occur during the life of a contract—deprive strikers of their status as employees and thus of the protection of national labor law.
- Other Labor Actions. To support a strike, a union faced with an impasse has recourse to additional legal activities:
- In picketing, workers march at the entrance to the employer's facility with signs explaining their reasons for striking.
- A boycott occurs when union members agree not to buy the products of a targeted employer. Workers may also urge consumers to boycott the firm's products.
- Another alternative to striking is a work slowdown. Instead of striking, workers perform their jobs at a much slower pace than normal- A variation is the sickout, during which large numbers of workers call in sick. Pilots at American Airlines engaged in a massive sickout a few years ago, causing the airline to cancel thousands of flights before a judge ordered them back into the cockpit.
Management Tactics Like workers, management can respond forcefully to an impasse:
- Lockoutsoccur when employers deny employees access to the workplace. Lockouts are illegal if they are used as offensive weapons to give management a bargaining advantage. However, they are legal if management has a legitimate business need (for instance, avoiding a buildup of perishable inventory). Lockouts are actually quite rare today. Among the more visible lockouts in recent years, the ABC television network locked out its off-camera employees in 1998 because they staged an unannounced one-day strike during a critical broadcasting period. Likewise, almost half of the 1998-1999 NBA season was lost when team owners locked out their players over contract issues.
-A firm can also hire temporary or permanent replacements called strikebreakers. However, the law forbids the permanent replacement of workers who strike because of unfair practices.
-In some cases, an employer can obtain legal injunctions that either prohibit workers from striking or prohibit a union from interfering with its efforts to use replacement workers.
Mediation and Arbitration Rather than wield these often unpleasant weapons against one another, labor and management can agree to call in a third party to help resolve the dispute:
In mediation, the neutral third party (the mediator) can suggest but cannot impose a settlement on the other parties.
In voluntary arbitration, the neutral third рапу (the arbitrator) dictates a settlement between the two sides, which have agreed to submit to outside judgment.
In some cases, arbitration is legally required to settle bargaining disputes. Compulsory arbitration is used to settle disputes between the government and public employees such as firefighters and police officers.
In the end of my essay I’d like to make a comparison of attitudes of different governments to unions. In countries like South Korea, Poland or South Africa, trade unions have played very enormous dynamic political and economic role. In Germany a strong trade union presence is recognized by employers and accepted as a partner by government. Near 80% of workforce are members of trade unions in Germany. As about French trade unions, they are little, but they are strong. And they are the third side in conflicts between government and workers. If a French worker has disagreement with manager, he first of all apply to the law, not to the union.
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