Researchers have devoted a great deal of time and effort to study “why do employees choose to join a union.” They have failed to report a common list of reasons that apply to all organising efforts.
Human beings are rational creature. They usually act upon rationally in different spheres of their lives. Similarly, workers join a union with a rational approach whether joining a union will be beneficial or not. This can simply be decided by making a cost-benefit analysis in this regard. The excess of benefits over costs, i.e., profit or reward, justifies workers’ joining to a trade union.
Wages and Benefits:
Employees work for livelihood, i.e., bread-and-butter. Obviously, bread-and-butter issues of employees are always important issues in their unionization. The employees may think that the union, with its united strength, will ensure fair wages at par with those of other workers in the community, benefits such as medical facility, pensions, paid sick leave, vacations and holidays for them.
Betterment of relationships
Another reason for employees joining unions is that employees feel that unions can fulfill the important need for adequate machinery for proper maintenance of employer-employee relations. Unions help in betterment of industrial relations among management and workers by solving the problems peacefully.
Employees need to have a sense of job security and want to be sure that management will not make unfair and arbitrary decisions about their employment. They look unions to ensure that their jobs are duly protected against lay offs, recall, promotion, etc.
Sense of Belongingness
Many employees joins a union because their co-workers are the members of the union. At times, an employee joins a union under group pressure; if he does not, he often has a very difficult time at work. On the other hand, those who are members of a union feel that they gain respect in the eyes of their fellow workers. They can also discuss their problem with’ the trade union leaders.
Employees like to work in a healthy and safe environment. Although there are statutory provisions for providing employees a safe work environment employees still feel more secured knowing that trade union is directly involved in safety and health issues relating to them.
Sense of Security
The employees may join the unions because of their belief that it is an effective way to secure adequate protection from various types of hazards and income insecurity such as accident, injury, illness, unemployment, etc. The trade union secure retirement benefits of the workers and compel the management to invest in welfare services for the benefit of the workers.
Fair and Just Supervision:
The days are long gone when managers / leaders could rule employees with an iron fist. Thanks to the trade unions that brought about a change or shift in leadership styles from autocractic to democratic, or say, people oriented to ensure that the managers treat their employees fairly, justly, and respectfully. Employees can only be disciplined for “just cause.” In case of mistreatment from the employer, the employee may file a written grievance against the employer.
Greater Bargaining Power:
The individual employee possesses very little bargaining power as compared to that of his employer. If he is not satisfied with the wage and other conditions of employment, he can leave the job. It is not practicable to continually resign from one job after another when he is dissatisfied. This imposes a great financial and emotional burden upon the worker. The better course for him is to join a union that can take concerted action against the employer. The threat or actuality of a strike by a union is a powerful tool that often causes the employer to accept the demands of the workers for better conditions of employment.
Platform for self-expression:
The desire for self-expression is a fundamental human drive for most people. All of us wish to share our feelings, ideas and opinions with others. Similarly the workers also want the management to listen to them. A trade union provides such a forum where the feelings, ideas and opinions of the workers could be discussed. It can also transmit the feelings, ideas, opinions and complaints of the workers to the management. The collective voice of the workers is heard by the management and give due consideration while taking policy decisions by the management.
Sense of Participation:
The employees can participate in management of matters affecting their interests only if they join trade unions. They can influence the decisions that are taken as a result of collective bargaining between the union and the management.
The decisions regarding pay, work, transfer, promotion, etc. are highly subjective in nature. The personal relationships existing between the supervisor and each of his subordinates may influence the management. Thus, there are chances of favouritisms and discriminations. A trade union can compel the management to formulate personnel policies that press for equality of treatment to the workers. All the labour decisions of the management are under close scrutiny of the labour union. This has the effect of minimizing favouritism and discrimination.