For decades, the use of unions in the workplace has led to protection of workers and workers’ rights. While originally used to protect the wages and safety of American workers, unions in the workplace have expanded and now work to resolve a diversity of workplace issues.
For minority employees, gay and lesbian employees and even in the representation of women, unions provide these classes of employees with an opportunity to have their voices heard through collective bargaining.
Because the union in the workplace does not discriminate based on age, sex, gender, religion or sexual orientation, employees within these classifications commonly will enlist the services of a union to ensure their rights are protected and they are not subjected to discrimination in the workplace. While EEOC standards provide similar protection, the fact remains that many employees, especially those of gay and lesbian lifestyles, experience discrimination on a daily basis and often find great difficulty in securing protection against job loss. With a union, their rights are protected to some extent.
Unlike minority groups, women in the workplace have long been treated differently than that of their male counterparts. This is especially true within the industrial lines of business and, as a result, one might say the union provides an even greater asset to female workers than to any other group. As a woman who is employed in a male-dominated field, it is important to consider joining a union so as to ensure your collective bargaining power is maximized.
For gay and lesbian workers, because civil rights do not protect one from losing a job based on sexual orientation, it is vitally important that these employees join a workplace union when it is made available. With many gay and lesbian employees finding it necessary to hide their sexual orientation from the workplace, a union provides the freedom from this secrecy and enables the gay or lesbian employee to conduct their employment without fear of job loss or discrimination.
So, how does the union maximize on collective bargaining? By joining together, employees, without regard to gender, race, age or sexual orientation, can utilize their bargaining power, in numbers, to improve workplace benefits. For example, a union can collectively bargain the maternity leave for not only female employees but also bargain the paternity leave for male employees. Unions may also want to address the unique needs of the gay and lesbian community of employees in terms of civil union benefits and benefits for adoption.
Whatever your sexual orientation, age, gender or race, if you work in an environment where a union has, or will be, established, it is important to join that union in an effort to ensure your employee rights are protected. Because there is power in numbers, joining a union will ensure you are not only protected in the workplace but, through collective bargaining, you may benefit from additional union negotiations.