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Labor laws came into being as a step towards addressing the worker's poor working conditions. In the past, worker's rights were repressed as the employers sought to make maximum profits at the lowest costs of labor. So to speak, this paper has addressed the remedy that came so as meet the requirement of the worker's rights to be restored. In line with this, collective bargaining which was formulated under section 7 of the National labor Relations Act of 1935 was made to provide workers with their rights to work under good conditions.
As a result, employees benefited a great deal with many of them gaining rights which had been otherwise taken from them in the work. As such, labor law being a body of laws, precedents and administrative rulings that are aimed at addressing and dealing with the legal rights of the working or employed people and their organizations along with the restrictions on them, has been explored pointing out to the role that the law plays in collective bargaining.
Collective bargaining in this context has been given as the process of negotiations that take place between employers and trade unions. As such, the collective bargaining does not work as a single body but it has been noted that it draws its strength from the labor law. This is to suggest that the paper has established that labor law regulates collective bargaining and thus when it has failed it takes the necessary actions towards maintaining the objectives of collective bargaining. Given to the fact that collective agreements takes into account the wage scales, health and safety at work, overtime, working hours, training and mechanisms of making grievances to be heard along with the very rights that are associated with one's participation in the workplace, labor law provide a ground or rather a foundation for this collective bargaining. As such, it works towards maintaining consistency of meeting the goals of collective bargaining by ensuring that all of them have been met.
To begin with, labor law and collective bargaining in the work context are closely related and the absence of either means a failure. As such, labor law can be defined as a body of laws, precedents and administrative rulings that are aimed at addressing and dealing with the legal rights of the working or employed people and their organizations along with the restrictions on them. On the other hand, Collective bargaining is given as the process of negotiations that take place between employers and trade unions. The collective bargaining is done with the sole aim of making regulations and rules that govern the working conditions of the employees.
As such, the collective bargaining does not work as a single body but it has been noted that it draws its strength from the labor law. Given to the fact that collective agreements takes into account the wage scales, health and safety at work, overtime, working hours, training and mechanisms of making grievances to be heard along with the very rights that are associated with one's participation in the workplace, labor law provide a ground or rather a foundation for this collective bargaining.
In relation to this point, labor law has a great role to play in the context of collective bargaining. As such, it aids the trade unions and the organizations to come into the legal agreements on the issue of the working conditions. Needless to state, labor law regulates the working conditions and the relationship that should be maintained by the employer and the employee in the workplace. Importantly, employees have their own rights at the work place which are in most times violated and there being no law which provides ground for the workers to bargain collectively, the rights of the employees end up being not granted.
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Nevertheless, nowadays there have been rules and regulations that have been put forward to govern the relationship between the employees and their employers. In the past, just as it has been highlighted, there were no laws governing the employees as they fought for their rights in the workplace. However, at the advent of labor law, it is possible for employees and trade unions to engage in collective bargaining in regard to working conditions and still be listened to as well as attended to on the basis of the provisions of the law.
Labor law can be utilized as an important tool in what makes up an effective collective bargaining. As a matter of fact, in the past, labor law was ultimately on the side of the employer. Thus, it was an offense for an employee to voice out his or her complaints even when he or she was dissatisfied by the conditions of work. Strikes were unheard of and in case they occurred, employees were punished and others jailed. This meant that there was no room for collective bargaining in order for the employees to negotiate with the employers on their wages, health and safety at work, overtime, training and working conditions from a general point of view.
Though conditions were not favorable in the past, in the long run labor laws were developed with clear definitions of what constitutes employee rights. For instance, there is the right for an employee to refuse unsafe work. Under the labor law, this right is protected of which it is otherwise stated, the quitting of labor by an employee or employees in good faith because of abnormally dangerous conditions, shall not be considered a strike under the Taft-Hartley Act (Lynd & Gross, 2008, p.52).
It is important at this point to bring out another definition of collective bargaining following an establishment of a union in a workplace. In this context, collective bargaining then is the process of discussions between the union and the employer regarding the relationship between the employer in the bargaining unit and the workers. The bargaining regards new labor contract governing the employer-workers relationship. It is important at this point to point out to the point that under collective bargaining the union then becomes the only exclusive employee representative. It is the responsibility of the union representatives to negotiate with the employer and thus individual workers are not permitted to do so as individuals.
From this point of view, collective bargaining is a process that has been pointed as an important one in the context of the employer-employee relationships. Owing to its importance, it cannot therefore be underestimated and as such, it is important to examine the role that is played by labor law in collective bargaining. This is given to the reason that labor law governs how employers should relate to the employees in the workplace clearly stating the good practices that are required. In order to understand how labor law plays a role in collective bargaining, several sources of information will be utilized which will involve in most part of it secondary sources which are in particular books. This will then be followed by a review of the literature related to how labor law plays a role in collective bargaining. Thereafter research findings and discussions will be made along with recommendations and conclusions being made.
Methodology in this case has to do with the method that is to be employed in order to come up with the required information regarding the research topic in the context. As such, the sources used will be the sources that show how the labor law plays a role in the collective bargaining. Of importance to note is that in this case only secondary sources of information will be utilized. Such sources will include books in the most part of it. There are two books that will be used as foundational sources. They involve "Collective bargaining: how it works and why: a manual of theory and practice" by Colosi, T.R. & Berkeley,A.E. together with "Labor Law for the Rank & Filer: Building Solidarity while staying clear of the law' by Lynd, S. & Gross, D. Along with this, there will be other three sources still addressing the topic and thus a total of five books will be made use of in order to complete the research in context.
As a matter of fact, labor has a role to play in the context of collective bargaining. Arguably, the main aim of a union is to negotiate with employers about matters that affect the members of the workers' union along with other employees. As it has been highlighted earlier in this context, the negotiations that happen between the union and the employers are known as collective bargaining. In this sense, the union and the employer have terms and conditions which they set and thus the employer in this case recognizes the union and is obliged to listen to them.
Colosi & Berkeley (2006), in this context, reveals why and how collective bargaining works. In this case, he relates theory to practice. From this point of view, there are several reasons that force unions to negotiations. In most cases, people negotiate in matters regarding wages, benefits and working hours along with other terms of and conditions governing employment. Such terms and conditions involve protection from employment without a just cause and such terminations may result from discrimination among other such related causes.
In line with this, collective bargaining works by electing workers or rather a bargaining unit made of workers who represent the union. In regard to this point, workers that are to represent the union are specified and the schedule of meetings is put in place. In the same manner, issues as well as terms and conditions of negotiations are stipulated. As such, the resulting violation of the agreement as well provided along with the charges that come along. In the United States, the labor law has the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 which covers most of collective agreements.
As a matter of fact, the dictates of this act state that it is illegal for employers to carry out any discrimination, harassment, employment termination resulting from union membership or for the reason of the union members engaging in the organization of campaigns and other issues associated thereof. At the same time, it is illegal according to NLRA act to refuse any union members from engaging in collective bargaining. At this point, it is evident that labor law works towards the protection of the collective bargaining.
According to Lynd& Gross (2008) NLRA is the most important and as such the cornerstone of modern American labor law with the particulates of section 7. Section 7 in this case states that employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choice and to engage in other combined activities for the rationale of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection (p.27). It is indisputable that the labor law has a part to play in collective bargaining.
In this case, literature reveals some other sub-sections within section 8 of the NLRA act that protect Section seven which in actuality protects collective bargaining. These sub-sections involve the section 8(a)(1) which states that it shall be inequitable practice for any employer obstruct, restrain or intimidate employees in the exercise of the rights quarantined in section 7. Furthermore, Section 8(a)(3) states that it shall be unwarranted labor practice for an employer to show favoritism in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment for the rationale of daunting membership in labor organization (Lynd& Gross, 2008, p.28).
Accordingly, section 8(a) (5) puts it that it shall be iniquitous labor practice for an employer to rebuff bargaining collectively with the representatives of his employees. So to speak, it has been provided by labor law that if one finds out that section 7 rights have been violated, then, one can file a charge with NLRB within duration of six months of violation. As well, problems associated with negation to bargain and unwarranted bargaining are covered in section 8(a) (5) (Lynd& Gross, 2008, p.28). So to speak, it is well established that labor law plays the role of regulating as well as protecting collective bargaining.
In the same line of thought, Colosi & Berkeley (2006), points out to the reasons why employers refuse unionization. Following this point, without union, employees get employed at their will and thus they have no rights other than the ones that are made possible in the state and federal laws. In this case, employers may violate the rights of the employees a factor that they may not be willing to spend on. In the light of this, unionized employees have rights which are enforceable in court as this is protected in the labor law and thus they can get their rights and get their issues addressed failure to which law may act as the only option. Debatably, collective bargaining has so many benefits that an individual employee cannot enjoy and given to the fact that it is protected in the labor law, then it is the best option for an employee,
It is therefore arguable that labor law plays a role in the collective bargaining. It actually protects collective bargaining as it is stipulated in section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act which happens to be the most important act in the American labor law. Again in this context, labor law helps to regulate the collective bargaining practices thus helping the members of union organization together with the employer to know how to relate with each other and as such avoid points of conflict which may result to prosecution.
From the perspective of the protection given to the collective bargaining in the labor law, it is arguable that collective bargaining is an initiative of the labor law and if it may be said is one of the provisions of labor law. Outstandingly, it becomes obvious that labor law has a great role to play in overseeing the implementation of the collective bargaining failure to which, it is entitled to apply the right measures as it is stipulated in section 7 of the NLRA of the American labor law. Colosi & Berkeley (2006), further states that the labor law through NLRA gives right to organize collectively or desist organizing. Besides this, it gives a right for the union to be represented by a lone bargaining unit. As well, democratic internal union organization of the worker's union is allowed. Apart from this, the worker's union is given the right to bilateral negotiations of employment conditions. Needless to say, the right to strike or negotiate binding arbitration of the grievance and contract term disputes is granted. The right to contract between the employer and the union is also granted as it is provided by section 7of NLRA which is an important factor in the American labor law.
This research unearthed various important issues that concerned the role of labor laws in collective bargaining. To begin with, whereas collective bargaining was supposed to provide an opportunity to workers through their trade unions to champions for their rights, this was not the case always. In consistent with this, there are some issues that regard collective bargaining that took away the powers and important rights of the employees, thus taking them back into the 'Dark Age' when employees were denied their rights. In reference to Lynd & Gross (2008), whereas collective bargaining made it possible for working people to enforce their rights through their unions, it was observed that some of their actions took away the rights that workers would otherwise because of laws such as the Federal Laws under the Fair Labor Standards Acts (p.21). In other words, whereas unions were supposed to fight and guarantee that the workers acquired their rights as employees of businesses and organizations in the United States and across the globe, there were cases in which they failed to attain this. Instead, they violated these rights.
To deal with such cases therefore, the labor laws play a critical part in moderating the actions of the unions and assisting them to remain within the stipulated work framework as it regards the workers' rights. For instance, when the workers rights are violated, section 13 of the NLRA states explicitly: 'Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as either to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the tight to strike' (Lynd & Gross, 2008, p.21). Nevertheless, whenever unions are brought on the scene through collective bargaining, most of them concede to the agreements that there would be no strikes. One cannot doubt the fact that the right to strike was interfered with when after the passage of the NLRA in 1935. For instance, it is evident from the past events that the unions, which were supposed to protect their members, failed to do and instead contravened their roles by agreeing to scrub off the intentions of striking as a way of fighting for employees' rights. For example, 'in the very first collective bargaining agreements between CIO unions in auto and steel on one hand, and General Motors and U.S. Steel on the other, union negotiators agreed to prohibit strikes during the life of these contracts' (Lynd & Gross, 2008, p.21). In combination with this, Labor laws play a vital part in protecting the rights of the workers which may be taken away through collective bargaining.
Most of the labor laws, seek to provide a fair workplace culture as well as a place whereby there would be no oppression of workers in order to improve productivity in the society as whole. In this sense, state labor laws are meant to ensure good working conditions of the workers. As such, collective bargaining under section 7 of NLRA is a part of the roles of the state labor roles. So to speak, the role of labor laws can be seen through what it performs upon collective bargaining. As a matter of fact, labor law was formulated as an act towards fulfilling the demands for better work conditions. In this case, the right to organize was one of the reasons that labor laws were formed with collective bargaining to meet this requirement. It had been a long history of the powers of workers being oppressed with the employers seeking to make maximum profits at the lowest costs of labor and thus labor laws were meant to correct this need.
It was also found out that labor laws were critical in dealing with situations where the unions failed in their mandate, especially in cases whereby collective bargaining agreements are violated by the company in a unionized workplace. It is important to mention that the unions are not always right. Neither are they perfect in ensuring that the employees' rights are respected. There have been mentioned cases in the past where unions took up issues that regarded collective bargaining agreements and failed to follow them up until they were honored. In such a case, the employees were left on his own irrespective of the fact that he or she was a member of a particular workers' union. Arguably, such employees face a serious in the sense that if they face the employer on their own, they risk being discriminated against by their employer. However, the government, through the labor laws has created loopholes that allow employees to pursue their right as it concern violation of collective bargaining agreements.
Lynd & Gross (2008) argues that ' under Section 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act, a worker has a right to go into the state or federal court to enforce a collective bargaining agreement against an employer' (p.89). Essentially, this labor law recognizes that the right of the employee in relation to collective bargaining agreements is bound to be violated at one point or the other. However, this law provides an opportunity to workers to access their rights as employees. The role of the labor law in this case is embedded in the fact that incase of a failure by the workers' union to ensure that violated collective bargaining agreements are reinstated, then the workers can take it upon themselves to follow the matter, guided by Section 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act.
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Research indicates that most workers unions in the United States have powers over employers. Consequently, this has allowed these unions to impose stringent conditions on the employers, which has made it possible for workers to access their rights. Union contracts likely would not contain some of the provisions they do were it not for the bargaining power labor law gives unions relative to the employers of union labor (Halcombe & Gwartney, , p.1-2). Stated in other words, the labor laws have played a significant role in defining dimensions for the workers' unions, not to mention the aspect of giving their power over employers. With regard to this, employers and employees are able to reach collective bargaining agreements via the unions in an effective way. More so, the labor laws have acted as the basis or rather foundation of arguments for the unions on behalf of the workers as they state the exactly responsibility of the employer towards the employee.
Notably, the above mentioned issues are not the only ways on how the labor law plays a role in collective bargaining. In reference to Freeman & Ichniowski (1988), 'the major finding is that state public laws are prime determinants of the likelihood that municipal workers are covered by collective bargaining and have a moderate impact on the wages and employment of public sector workers' (p.81). So to speak, the labor laws determine whether employees are entitled to access collective bargaining privileges or not. In line with this, the labor laws set important standards to employers and employees as a way of helping both of them to access fair collective bargaining agreements that are critical industrial relations in the United States.
It is also worth to note that studies and researches which have been carried out in the past indicate that the labor laws encourage collective bargaining and helps in defining the limits of collective bargaining agreements. Arguably, the labor laws which have been constituted lay a foundation on which collective bargaining is bale to build its own foundation. Alternatively, without the labor laws, it is very difficult for unions across the United States to set the required standards that need to be adhered to by all employers. In regard to the observations that were made by Ward (2005), collective bargaining is controlled by complex system of federal state and state legislation whereas the federal labor laws establish a basic framework that applies to all workers (p.79). Based on these laws, the workers can then be able to enter into collective bargaining agreements, with a background knowledge concerning their rights as employees. Notably, there are important key laws that regulate collective bargaining systems namely: the Wagner-Connery Act of 1935, the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932, the Tafta-Hartley Labor Act of 1947, and the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 (Ward, 2005, p.79). Apart from creating a legal basis for collective bargaining, they have also played to role of guiding by regulating the boundaries of collective bargaining between employers and their workers.
There different aspects of this Acts which are utilized in collective bargaining. To begin with, the labor laws are critical in assisting the unions to champion for minimum wages that need to be paid to employees. Notably, among the acts which were formulated to deal with the issue of minimum wage is the National Industrial Recovery Act. In this regard, the labor market is regulated by checking on the minimum wage which is paid to employees. According to Ward (2005), one of the initiatives of President Franklin Roosevelt was this act which guaranteed that unions were entitled to collective bargaining in order to keep the minimum wages at a level that would maintain the purchasing power of the worker (p.79).
Whereas it has been mentioned in this research on the role that labor laws play in collective bargaining, mush of this work has focused on the positive side of labor in promoting collective bargaining. However, it is also important to understand that there are other areas of collective bargaining that are restricted by the labor laws. To begin with, some states in the United States restrict workers from joining the labor union and thus hamper collective bargaining for employees from the local government (Ward, 2005). In line with this, these employees are protected under the labor laws which state clearly the responsibility of the employers towards workers in a particular industry. The opposition to collective bargaining is propagated under the right-to-work issue. Remarkably, opponents of open shops express the opinion that right-to-work statutes reduces a union's bargaining power and place an unfair burden on the union's members (Ward, 2005, p.81). Freeman and Ichniowski (1988), in the area of bargaining rights, the laws were categorized into five groups namely; bargaining prohibited; no provision for bargaining; bargaining permitted; 'meet and confer' or 'present proposals'; and duty to bargain (p.82). These five sections of the law either give freedom to collective bargaining or impose constraints to the operations of collective bargaining among unions and employees. First, bargaining prohibited statutes provide recourse to public employers to courts if workers form unions and try to negotiate over terms and conditions of employment (Freeman and Ichniowski, 1988, p.82).
In this regard, this statute is not the best in addressing workers issues. This is as result of the fact that that employers have options which they can pursue to challenge the grievances which have been raised them by the workers. Therefore, workers have no chance of laying a foundation to fight for their rights under this statute. Unfortunately for workers, the labor laws are unable to challenge this statute except by ensuring that the rules and regulations which have been set by the labor body are observed.
The second bargaining category is the no provision category. This statute provides employers with the autonomy of refusing to indulge in any form of bargaining with their employees. As a result of this, the workers have no right to bargain with their employer. This is further affirmed by courts in the United States which have continually argued that these workers have no right to bargain with their employers since there is no provision for such in this statute. There is also bargaining permitted which allows bargaining but does not require employers to negotiate with workers (Freeman and Ichniowski, 1988, p.82). In this regard, the workers have an opportunity to bargain with their employers. However, it must be noted that the employer can choose either to negotiate with the employee or not.
From the above given information, it is evident that labor law has a greater role to play in the collective bargaining. In line with this, labor laws play the role of moderating the actions of the unions and assisting them to remain within the stipulated work framework as it regards the workers' rights. This is given to the reason that things are not the way that they were supposed to be bringing the meaning that what the collective bargaining was meant to accomplish it did not actually accomplish. Thus, labor law ensures that collective bargaining attains its objectives and goals.