The Impact of Labor Unions in the Hospitality IndustryAbstract Labor Unions in the United States have protected employee rights and benefits for several decades. Human Resources play an essential role in the work place in dealing with labor unions. Unions represent thousands of workers and employees throughout the nation in an effort to fight for human rights and equality in the work force. Negotiations are then met through the dedication of these unions that allow for a company to provide higher wages, adequate benefits, and better working conditions to employees around the world.
This document will explain the importance of unions and the role they play in today’s economy and work force and how a business can remain union free. Introduction When deciding on which career path to take and what corporation to work for doing substantial research on benefits, wages, and the working conditions of that particular company is essential. What most people do not realize is what it took for those benefits to be created. History reflects the changes in employee benefits and working conditions back to the 19th century.
During this time farm workers began working in mines and factories facing terrible working conditions and health risks. Women and children also worked under the same conditions with lesser wages. In an attempt to fight against these working conditions, workers would gather to strike and protest for change and to be a voice for their communities. The effects of these protests and strikes in the work force made way for the Industrial Revolution allowing for the birth of labor unions.
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Labor unions are organizations formed by employees and workers around the world from various industries. The unions unite in an effort to bargain and protect employee benefits, wages, and fight for better working conditions. Today, several unions are in existance in mutliple industries to protect employee rights and work hand in hand with human resources managers. One union, for example, is the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE), that united with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE) to create UNITE HERE.
UNITE HERE is an organization that protects members in the hospitality industry and is in conjunction with The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, also known as AFL-CIO. The ALF-CIO is the largest federation of unions representing workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries. UNITE HERE has fought to create jobs and change low-wage jobs to higher paying jobs within these industries. ("Unite here, 2012") Human resources practices have advanced since workers began to unionize.
Managers were now challenged with the demands of labor unions and were forced to face union representatives rather than dealing with employees directly about issues such as wages, benefits, and grievance. The struggle between labor unions and companies still continues and it is in the convenience of both unions and corporations to have an understanding and functional relationship with one another for peace and equality within working quarters. The History of Labor Unions "Workers in the United States are facing a number of difficulties," said Daniel J.
B. Mitchell, a professor emeritus of public policy at UCLA. "Job security, healthcare, retirement funds -- we haven't seen such levels of uncertainty since the Great Depression. " (Lazarus, 2012) Dating back to the 19th century, this is when businesses began to change from household agriculture into the mining industry and machine operated labor factories. Due to the changes and intense job conditions labor unions began to form in an effort to bargain for better rights. Strikes took place, resulting in conflict between workers and employers.
The most influential of the unions being created at the time was the American Federation of Labor union due to its focus on higher wages and improved working conditions for its members. Miners in the mining industry were faced with long working hours, unsafe working conditions and were poorly paid. Most lived in company towers where doctors, schools, and law enforcement were provided by the actual companies in an effort to control the workers. “Companies maintained an oppressive working environment, prohibiting workers from talking or gathering, to discourage the creation of unions. (Habashi, 2011) In 1890 the Unite Mine Workers of America was founded representing workers in the mining sector that fought for collective bargaining. During 1933 and 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” was created protecting the rights of labor unions and prohibited employers from firing workers who took part in union activities. Labor Unions Today The work force has become extremely competitive over the past decade due to the drop in the economy. Union members are found to be in an advantage being that in some cases they earn a higher wage than a non-union worker.
But this higher salary does not mean regular pay raises. (Sherk, 2009) The Hilton Hotel in Glendale, California is one prime example of the impact unions can have on workers today. For over a year a group of 30 or more employees from the hotel met in secrecy in an effort to form a union against the hotel’s low wages, overworked staff, and unorganized labor. This would become an almost four year battle against the Hilton Hotel. In 2005, with the help of UNITE HERE, the Rising Workers Campaign was launched against the hotel.
Hilton attempted to soften the matter and come to an agreement by offering 50-cent pay increases and a promotion to a cook to become a kitchen key leader. This was not enough for the workers. What Hilton in Glendale did not know was that UNITE HERE had signed a national neutrality agreement with the Hilton Corporation in 2006, but it only applied to sites Hilton actually owned and operated. Because the Hilton in Glendale was a separate entity owned and operated by Eagle Hospitality, which ran 12 other hotels across the country, UNITE HERE went in for a boycott of Eagle Hospitality properties instead.
Picketers targeted Eagle Hospitality hotels across Los Angeles weekly for 18 months until a settlement was agreed upon. "From that day on the whole hotel changed," [Angela Reid – a bartender at the Hilton] said. "It wasn't even the same hotel anymore. " (Gaus, 2008) Another example of how unions impact the work force is with the Industrial Workers of the World Union (IWW) and it’s involvement in supporting all industries. Industrial Workers of the World believes in organizing all workers by producing the same goods or providing the same services into one union, rather than dividing workers by skill or trade. "About the IWW," 2011) Industrial Workers of the World began organizing Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) in 2003. Starbucks Workers Union unlike other unions is an example of solidarity unionism, meaning they take direct action against Starbucks Company without involvement from the government or a union representative. The Starbucks Workers Union has done just that successfully. (Tanyeri, 2011) “Working together, we have won improvements in wages and working conditions and remedied individual grievances with management. ("Starbucks workers union," 2012) Labor Unions and Their Impact in the Hospitality Industry A major labor union impacting the hospitality industry is UNITE-HERE. This is the Needle Trades Union (UNITE) and the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) that merged together to fight for the rights of the workers in the hospitality industries. The hotels and casinos, and restaurants, etc. , in hospitality industry argue that UNITE HERE is unlawful at times. They claim that some of the UNITE HERE actions range from harassment to criminal.
The invasion of private property and increased noise level by picketers is something the companies argue against. “Union representatives can come to the office and demand to see the higher-ups. No law says they have to be let in. ” (Howe, 2012) UNITE HERE’s ultimate goal is to help as many people as possible. D. Taylor, Secretary-Treasurer of the Nevada Culinary Workers Union and executive committee member of UNITE HERE, interviewed with Casino Journal about his outlook for the economy and the hospitality industry during the ongoing recession the United States has faced.
He touches on health coverage and agrees that every individual can surely pay for their own private health coverage given they were employed. With the amount of workers being laid off though, how are they supposed to manage these costs he asks. Also, with the amount of workers being laid off in an effort to save on labor costs, how are businesses supposed to offer adequate customer service. “It’s a real dilemma,” says Taylor. (Taylor, 2009) On the other hand, UNITE HERE not only supports workers in fighting for their rights, it also launched a public website in an attack against Motel 6 franchises.
UNITE HERE stated that Motel 6 was falling short of service standards and accused them of not having the ability to survive in this industry. Motel 6 replied in defense of their corporation stating that they have good standing relationships with their franchisees and will continue to grow in the years to come. They feel attacked by UNITE HERE and even stated having opened 50 new franchises in the year 2008. ("Unite here raises," 2009) The impact that unions can have in the hospitality industry as any industry can range from positive impacts for workers and negative impacts on business.
How to Remain Union Free “The time to communicate openly and treat employees the right way is every day,” says Rick Van Warner, senior partner and principal at Parquet Public Affairs in Orlando. Warner’s theory is quite simple and direct. He states if union laws and agreements are automatically followed companies do not risk attacks from workers and unions. His advise on remaining union free is to establish an open communication with management and employees. He advises to never assume all management is treating staff fairly. Observation is key and constant communication.
Explaining employee costs and benefits regularly is also essential because again assumption that the staff knows this type of information is not recommended. Opportunities for job advancement within a company and offering safe and non-intimidating working conditions will keep employees happy and allow them to feel that they also have a voice at their work place to discuss any matters that may arise. (Tanyeri, 2011) Summary Labor unions throughout the course of history have played an integral part in the business world and protection of employee rights.
Beginning with the 19th century and the worker strike forces, the progress in employee rights over the past century has drastically improved. Labor unions are here to protect the rights of workers and be a voice so there is not any wrong doing on behalf of a business. Maintaining a clear understanding and functioning relationship with union representatives is in the best interest of the business and human resources management. By having an established understanding and abiding by union labor law companies avoid accusations from unions and workers.
Employees will remain happy and grow productively with the help and support of their employer, which usually results in a flourishing business. Conclusion I believe that unions offer a positive balance in the business world. Without unions the exploitation of workers would still exist. It takes a higher force to fight for protection of human rights and see results. The progress of employee benefit packages and wages has come a long way just in the past decade alone. As an active employee in hospitality for the past 10 years wages alone have risen.
The history in labor unions set a stepping-stone for our society in creating confidence amongst our generation to protect our rights as workers. In my research, I found it very devastating to learn the living and working conditions workers had in the 19th century. It made me feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this generation and have the opportunities given to me in our society. Companies still have a long way to go, but as Van Warner mentioned in my last article section, the time to treat employees right is everyday.
If businesses would stop the ultimate focus on the worth of a dollar for profit only and put some of that effort into staff and working environments it would only result in an employee taking pride of their job. A happy employee means excellent customer service, which brings in returning customers and increased revenue. The earlier case with the Hilton Hotel in Glendale, California is a result of faulty practices by management. The staff was not happy. They did not feel well compensated or valued for their work. And with the case of the
Motel 6, they received bad media for not following through with the service standards they are required to abide by. Remaining union free may take effort and even money, but in the long shot is only in the benefit of the business’ longevity in the work force. Overall, in the years to come there will be new laws and hopefully more improvements to our working industries and especially the hospitality industry. References * About the iww. (2011, July 3). Retrieved from http://www. iww. org/en/about * Taylor, D. D. (2009). Keeping up the Fight. Casino Journal, 22(6), 28-29 * Gaus, M. 2008, After four years of struggle: Hotel workers rising campaign pays off in L. A. Labor Notes, (352), 5-5. http://ezproxy. fiu. edu/login? url=http://search. proquest. com/docview/203683040? accountid=10901 * Habashi, F. (2011, February). Social problems in the mining industry - a historical essay (part 1). CIM Magazine, 6(1), Retrieved from http://www. cim. org/bulletin/bulletinlive/articles_print. cfm? Issue_ID=992&Type=1&row=2&Segment_ID=46&hide=1 * Howe, J. T. (2012, March). When your venue faces union trouble: peaceful gatherings are the ultimate goal for all.
Meetings & Conventions, 47(3), 26. Retrieved from http://go. galegroup. com/ps/i. do? id=GALE%7CA283705823&v=2. 1&u=flstuniv&it=r&p=PPTH&sw=w * Lazarus, D. (2012, April 27). As its power wanes, is there a future for organized labor? . Los Angeles Times . Retrieved from http://www. lexisnexis. com/hottopics/lnacademic/ * Sherk, J. (2009, May 21). What unions do: How labor unions affect jobs and the economy. Retrieved from http://www. heritage. org/research/reports/2009/05/what-unions-do-how-labor-uni ons-affect-jobs-and-the-economy * Starbucks workers union. (2012). Retrieved from http://www. tarbucksunion. org/about * Tanyeri, D. (2011). How to stay union-free. Restaurant Business, 110(11), 50. * Tanyeri, D. (2011, November 1). Unions rising. Retrieved from http://web. ebscohost. com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? sid=3acda697-cb54-46b2-928d-232b0c55d4e6@sessionmgr12&vid=1&hid=24 * Unite here. (2012). Retrieved from http://www. unitehere. org/about/ * UNITE HERE Raises Questions About the Competitiveness of Accor's Motel 6 Franchise. (2009, January 13). Business Wire. Retrieved from http://go. galegroup. com/ps/i. do? id=GALE%7CA191957986;v=2. 1;u=flstuniv;it=r;p=PPTH;sw=w
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