Why do workers join unions?

M1D1: Why do workers join unions? 1

Before you begin this activity, be sure that you have:
 Read Chapter 1
 Reviewed the PowerPoint for:
o Chapter 1 [PDF file size 6.9 MB]
 Reviewed the Videos:
o Ford Motor Company
To help you understand why workers decide to join unions, we will discuss factors that
impact workers’ lives. The ability for workers to find jobs, the ability for companies to
shift work from one location to another and the relative power of an individual in contrast
to the power of an organization are critical issues in understanding these decisions. For
example, as you saw in the videos on Ford Motor Company in the 1920s, workers were
attracted to Detroit because jobs at the company were plentiful and provided good pay.
What happened that changed the workers’ attitudes in support of unionization?
The text discusses why the monopoly and voice power of unions are attractive to
workers. The type of job, working conditions and worker characteristics such as age,
education and earnings also influence workers’ willingness to join unions. Based on
your understanding of the readings, videos and through experience, if appropriate, let’s
examine why these elements — types of jobs, working conditions and worker
characteristics – are related to workers’ willingness to join unions.
In your initial post please address the following:
 Address one of the elements and explain why it is an important element in why
workers join unions. You must provide support for your response by referencing
information in the textbook or other academic source.
Once you have posted your response, you must also read through your classmates’
posts. From the responses choose some that you find interesting and respond

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substantively to them. You are also responsible for responding to students who post
comments regarding your initial posts. The goal is to create a dialog among the class.


Expert Answer

Why Do Workers Join Unions?

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Working conditions is one of the major reasons why employees join labor unions (Vaid, 1965). Many workers find themselves working in employment positions that have poor working conditions. With the assistance of an employee union, employees are able to get better working conditions, as trade unions negotiate for improved working conditions such as better wages and salaries. In addition, labor unions advocate for employees in the industrial sector to be provided with safer working conditions and to work for reasonable hours. They also negotiate with employers to ensure that employees get facilities and benefits such as health insurance and the provision of welfare facilities at work (Waddington & Whitston, 1997). Without being members of a union, it becomes difficult for an employee to compel the employer to provide better working conditions. Because of the collective bargaining power that unions have, employees join them to enjoy improved working conditions such as better wages and safer working environments.


Vaid, K. N. (1965). Why workers join unions. Indian journal of industrial relations, 1(2), 208-230.

Waddington, J., & Whitston, C. (1997). Why do people join unions in a period of membership decline?. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 35(4), 515-546.

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