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Types and Levels of Unions

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Busco Electric Utility

You are Anita Louise, the very first Vice President of Human Resources for Busco, an Electric Utility company with corporate headquarters in Denver, Colorado. None of Busco's employees are union in spite of the fact that the utility industry is heavily organized; to date Busco has no unions at any of its 8 plants across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. One of your objectives is to assure the company has appropriate programs and policies in place to continue to operate union-free. You immediately are assigned to deal with a potential disaster - Mildred Smit, the recently hired Plant Manager for the Busco-Chicago facility. She reports to Steve Zellner, the Vice President of Operations at the headquarters. The Chicago plant has 350 employees of which approximately 275 work in the plant as skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled laborers. The rest of the employees work in the office as managers, supervisors, and clerical workers.

You need to get Mildred acquainted with the basics of unions. Do research on how unions are organized. Then, answer the following questions you anticipate her raising:

What are the major types of unions? Give examples of each.
What are the different levels of unions? Give examples of each.
Give 2-3 examples of public sector unions.
What are the steps in union organizing campaign?
What is salting? What is the Supreme Court's decision on salting?

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Excellent questions!

1. What are the major types of unions? Give examples of each.

Traditionally, there have been two main types of labor unions in the United States: craft unions and industrial unions.

(a) A craft union organizes workers employed in the same occupation or craft, regardless of where they work. Examples include unions of electricians, carpenters, and printers. Craft unions descend from the guilds of printers and shoemakers that started the labor movement in the United States. The American Federation of Labor (AFL), which formed in 1886, became the country's first organization of craft unions. Samuel Gompers, leader of the cigar-makers union, served as the first president of the AFL. Under his leadership, the AFL set out a list of principles that guided the federation for many decades and that encouraged many of the national craft unions to join. The AFL gave each affiliated national craft union complete autonomy over its internal affairs and granted the national craft union exclusive jurisdiction over organizing workers employed in that craft.

(b) The second type of union, the industrial union, organizes all workers in a particular industry, regardless of the workers' crafts. Examples of industrial unions include the United Steelworkers of America and the United Mine Workers of America (UMW). These unions organize all workers in the steel industry and the mining industry respectively, regardless of the workers' particular tasks. The Committee for Industrial Organization, formed within the AFL in 1935 by UMW president John L. Lewis, sought to organize workers by industry, including unskilled workers

(c) National unions represent workers from throughout the United States and in some cases workers in other countries, chiefly Canada. Most national unions also have local branches, known as locals, which represent workers in a city or a particular plant. Locals follow the policies of the national union. Some unions also have regional councils, which represent various locals within a region. About 50 national unions are affiliated with the AFL-CIO. In 2005 a major split occurred in the AFL-CIO when three of the largest unions?the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) with 1.8 million members, the Teamsters Union with 1.4 million members, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)?withdrew to form the Change to Win Coalition (: http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761553112_2/labor_union.html).

(d) The last decades of the 20th century saw increased organization of professional workers in unions such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Professional Nurses Association.

2. What are the different levels of unions? Give examples of each.

There are different levels of unions. For example, union members in the United States typically belong to a ...

Solution Summary

By example, this solution explains the major types of unions, including the different levels of unions. It provides examples of public sector unions and the specific steps in an union organizing campaign. It explains the concept "salting" and the Supreme Court's decision on salting. Supplemented with a highly informative article on labor unions.