Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Arthur Bennet Shostak
Organizations of hourly or salaried employees intent on improving both the at-work and off-work lives of actual and prospective members, labor unions often make up the largest social movement in a country. Able often to successfully bargain for better wages, hours, and working conditions than those afforded their matched counterparts in nonunion workplaces, labor unions raise the bar and show the way. Critics, not surprisingly, rush to charge this wage differential comes at a high cost to other stakeholders in a unionized firm, such as investors, nonunion jobholders, managers and executives, and possibly even consumers. Pro-union academics, however, contend that the higher morale, and thereby possibly the higher productivity of unionized employees, compensates for the union's “tax” on company profits; this is one of many such endless economic arguments concerning unions. Labor unions can trace their origins back to medieval or even Roman guilds, though nowadays they no longer produce ...