Are unions relevant in today's environment? 

Expert Answers
mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To answer this question, it is important to know what laws exist that impact unions. In some states, there are no laws that negatively impact unions. In these states, unions may be very relevant in helping workers protect jobs, improve working conditions, and increase pay and benefits. Without a union, workers would have to fight for these things on their own. This would be more difficult to do. Also, if a worker’s rights were violated, the worker would have to fight this in court most likely at the worker’s expense. A union could be very helpful in these situations.

Recently some states have passed laws that have limited what unions are able to do for their members. For example, in Wisconsin, public sector unions lost the ability to collectively bargain. As a result, businesses were free to impose their own rules, regulations, pay scale, and benefits package without negotiating any of these topics with the workers and their union. In this case, the effectiveness of unions has been significantly reduced. However, the unions can still represent workers in certain situations and work in the political arena to lobby for pro-worker laws. While these results may not appear to be so significant, they can still be important and relevant for workers.

While it is much better for unions to exist in states where their activities aren’t limited by law, unions can still be an effective force for their members.

a4urtest | Student

Working men and women are more vulnerable to a host of problems than they were then:

Because of the electronic revolution, the radical reorganization of the labor process, and the political deregulation of important product and financial markets, employers are more likely to move operations to lower-wage parts of the United States and to poorer countries. They are also more inclined to threaten to do so. Try to buy U.S.-made shoes, toys, jewelry, and a host of other consumer goods. If your automobile is made in the United States, chances are good that it was manufactured in union-free southern states.