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What Are Unions And What Do They Do

1538 words - 6 pages

Running Head: ASSIGNMENT FOUROntario CanadaAPA StyleWhat are Unions and What do They DoTo understand the need for unions firstly we need to understand the nature of capitalism. Black does an excellent job of summing up what capitalism truly stands for, and what we need to remember, no matter how wonderful capitalism may appear to be: Black does this in his writing, "The raison d'être of these capitalist firms is not to meet human needs, but to earn profits," (Black & Silver, 2001, 14) To further our understanding of capitalism I find it insightful to note Black's quote: "Capitalism is, as the economist Joseph Schumpeter put it, a process of "creative destruction," it creates, and it destroys, in its never-ending drive for more profits," (Black & Silver, 2001, 15). Therefore when we consider what unions do today, we must also consider what unions have done in the past. Although each of us has our own ideas of unionism, myself included, we must remember that complacency in any respect, will lead to a lack of progress and overall dissatisfaction. For many people living in Canada today, particularly those of us born into this working world influenced by unions, we must keep in mind that we have never lived or existed in an era not influenced by unions, hence it is difficult at times for us to judge their effectiveness and necessity, for it is only a blend of history and speculation which many of us can imagine our living and working conditions had there never been unions.All manner of working people today belong to trade unions, whether employed or unemployed, from doctors to trash collectors, schoolteachers to secretaries, pilots to printers. Unions act as the voice of the workers. The sole existence of any union is to benefit its workers. Many people in the work force today belong to some form of a union. A union, is therefore a group of workers who join together to make their working' lives better. Sometimes unions are referred to as associations, federations, brotherhoods, societies, alliances, leagues or simply workers. In fact, it can be said that, "trade unions, began, then, as an essential response to capitalism," (Black & Silver, 2001, 15).It was unionism in the past, and unionism today which can be seen as labours most potent tool against the capitalist machine of profit. Unions can be divided into two main groups, revolutionary theories and accommodationist theories. Revolutionary theories are those of such people as Karl Marx and Ilyich Vladimir Lenin. Because a capitalist system can not truly coexist with democracy and freedom, the revolutionary theorists have argued from the beginning of capitalism, that the only means to create a truly democratic and free society--is through a revolutionary overthrow of the bureaucratic, capitalist supporting governments. Most unions in Canada today would be considered to support the accommodationist perspective of employee--employer relations. In my view, Black explains the...

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