Why may cooperative approaches stand up to legal review more easily in unionized plants than in non-unionized environments?"

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The cooperative approach implies a mutual desire among parties to resolve differences so that each side does not have an advantage. Though we often think union and management are at odds with one another, there are mutual interests between the two groups that encourage cooperation. For example, unions or management have an interest in the ongoing viability of a business. The more profitable a business becomes, the more likely benefits driven from profitability will be shared. It is incumbent upon unions and management to find ways to increase productivity and reduce costs without sacrificing jobs. Though issues of employee benefits tend towards being negotiated in less friendly atmospheres, the overarching goal of sustaining the organization's fiscal health is paramount to both parties. There is an element of cooperation even in the most adversarial negotiations.

When issues rise to a level of the need for outside legal resolution, the cooperative approach in unionized organizations is clearly documented by various notes, meeting dates, and agreements. Courts want to see legal evidence of action leading to decisions. Cooperation between unions and management generates substantive legal documentation that is reviewable. This documentation includes various communications, calendars of meetings, proposals, preliminary agreements, and other types of material that demonstrate both sides were operating in good faith to resolve their difference before seeking legal assistance from courts. In the absence of cooperation, the existing legal documentation is controlled by management, whose interest is singularly oriented towards their own point of view.

In a non-unionized environment, while the same issues exist, there is not necessarily a need for a cooperative approach. Without the strength of an organized workforce, managers are free to make decisions that benefit the company first and not concern themselves with cooperative approaches to labor. Using the same example as the unionized organization, productivity and profitability can be increased through technical mechanization, reduction in employee benefits, and reduction in workforce. Although cooperation in a non-unionized organization is preferred, corporate managers can function reasonably effectively without it.

In short, evidentiary standards for legal resolutions are better documented in unionized organizations. Decisions resolving issues requiring a legal intervention become matters of law and fact rather than personal disputes between labor and management, as often is the case in non-unionized organizations.

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This is a great question. There is a good reason why unions have more legal sway and clout. The reason for this is due to the fact that unions are powerful. They have the ability to speak and act collectively. So, this power gives them the ability to bargain, to challenge the law, and so forth. 

To put it another way, it is wrong to break the rights of an individual. However, you might get away with it. To break the rights of a whole group is another story and you will not get away with it. When you look at it from this perspective, you can see why unions have a edge over non-unions in any setting or company. Finally, this is also way many companies do not want people to unionize.


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