Twenty-seven Boilermaker dependents earn awards totaling $50,000
THE BOILERMAKERS’ International Executive Council scholarship committee announced the winners of its 2014 scholarship program this past April. The committee awarded $50,000 to 28 recipients, with $40,000 being allocated to U.S. applicants and $10,000 to Canadian applicants.
The one-year grants included six $3,000 awards, 10 $2,000 awards, and 12 $1,000 awards. The committee selected scholarship recipients from a pool of Boilermaker dependents in their senior year of high school. Applicants were judged on their academic achievements, leadership skills, participation in extracurricular activities, and performance on a written essay.
Six receive top awards totaling $18,000
Rebecca Lynn Hutsell, daughter of Local 169 (Detroit) member Robert Hutsell, is a graduate of Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, Mich. She is attending Michigan State and will pursue course work in mechanical engineering.
Justin Duane Keffeler, son of Local 242 (Spokane, Wash.) member Mark Keffeler, is a graduate of Mead High School in Spokane. Justin is attending Washington State University and plans to become an environmental engineer.
Gabriel Scott Mathews, son of Local 11 (East Helena, Mont.) member Eric Mathews, is a graduate of Billings Senior High School in Billings, Mont. He is attending Montana State University in Bozeman and hopes to become a mechanical engineer.
Nicholas Joseph Parr, son of Local 28 (Newark, N.J.) member Raymond Parr, is a graduate of Monroe Township High School in Monroe Township, N.Y. He is attending the College of New Jersey in Ewing, N.J., majoring in interactive multimedia.
Tanner Kelson Sammons, son of Local 40 (Elizabethtown, Ky.) member Donald Sammons, is a graduate of East Carter County High School in Grayson, Ky. Tanner is attending the University of Kentucky School of Engineering, majoring in electrical engineering.
Morgan Dukes Vincent, son of Local 40 (Elizabethtown, Ky.) member Samuel Vincent, is a graduate of Muhlenberg County High School, West Campus, in Greenville, Ky. Morgan is attending the University of Kentucky, where he plans to pursue a bachelor of science degree. His long-term goal is to attend medical school and become a general practitioner.
Ten receive $2,000 awards
Alexis Kathleen Adie, daughter of Local 28 (Newark, N.J.) member John Adie, is a graduate of Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Princeton, N.Y. She is attending the College of New Jersey and plans to study electrical engineering.
Taylor Page Dougherty, daughter of Local 193 (Baltimore) member Charles Hudson Jr., is a graduate of the Tome School in North East, Md. She is attending the University of South Florida, where she plans to take pre-med courses and eventually become a dermatologist.
Katelyn Elizabeth Kearney, daughter of Local 28 (Newark, N.J.) member Kevin Kearney, is a graduate of Rumson Fair-Haven Regional High School in Rumson, N.J. Katelyn is attending Drexel University in Philadelphia, with the goal of becoming a neo-natal nurse.
Lauren Jean Life, daughter of Local 154 (Pittsburgh) member Bruce Life, is a graduate of Quaker Valley High School in Leetsdale, Pa. Lauren is attending Chatham University, where she is majoring in environmental science.
Hana Taylor McNulty, daughter of Local 154 (Pittsburgh) member Andrew McNulty, is a graduate of Pine Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pa. Hana is attending Clemson University and hopes to become an engineer.
Coltin Allen Smith is the son of Local 374 (Hammond, Ind.) member Troy Smith. He is a graduate of Princeton Community High School in Princeton, Ind. Coltin is attending the University of Evansville, where he was accepted into the honors program with an undergraduate in Health Services Administration. He hopes to become a doctor of physical therapy.
Tasha Marie Swenney, daughter of Local 40 (Elizabethtown, Ky.) member Thomas Swenney, is a graduate of Massac County High School in Metropolis, Ill. Tasha has been accepted at Southern Illinois University, Murray State, and Shawnee Community College. Her career goal is to become an attorney.
Jerika Jo Von Bank is the daughter of Local 647 (Minneapolis, Minn.) member Mitch Von Bank. She is a graduate of Maple Valley High School in Tower City, Minn. Jerika is attending Colorado State in Ft. Collins, Colo., and majoring in psychology. She hopes to become a high school psychologist.
Heather Lynn Wardlaw is the daughter of Local 502 (Puyallup, Wash.) member Robert Wardlaw. She is a graduate of Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, Wash. Heather is attending the honors program at Western Washington University and would like to become a high school English teacher.
Hannah Charity-Mae Wilson is the daughter of Local 40 (Elizabethtown, Ky.) member Thomas Wilson. She is a graduate of McClean County High School in Calhoun, Ky. Hanna is attending Western Kentucky University and plans to become a mechanical engineer.
Twelve receive $1,000 awards
Allyson Jennifer Aarssen, daughter of Local 128 (Toronto, Ontario) member Paul Aarssen, is a graduate of Wallaceburg District Secondary School in Wallaceburg, Ontario. Allyson is attending Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario, and plans to become a secondary school English teacher.
Madeleene Boucher-Hogan, stepdaughter of Local 555 (Winnipeg, Manitoba) member Michael Fell, is a graduate of St. Ignatius High School in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Madaleene is attending Confederation College in Thunder Bay and plans to make a career in interior design.
Conrad Edward Carlson, son of Local 359 (Vancouver, British Columbia) member Edward Carlson, is a graduate of Ladysmith Secondary School in Ladysmith, B.C. Conrad has applied to the University of Victoria and the University of Victoria Island. He plans to major in biology.
Julien-Pier Chiasson, son of Local 73 (Halifax, Nova Scotia) member Gaston Chiasson, is a graduate of Ecole Secondaire Nepisgiuit (Nepisiguit Secondary School) in Bathurst, New Brunswick. His is attending a two-year medical preparatory course at the University of Moncton (New Brunswick) and hopes to continue his education with a focus in orthodontics.
Michael Joseph James Defazio-Raiche, son of Local 73 (Halifax, Nova Scotia) member Lloyd Raiche, is a graduate of St. Malachy’s Memorial High School in Saint John, New Brunswick. Michael is attending Bishop’s University in Quebec and plans to pursue a business degree.
Ben Thomas Ellis, son of Local D579 (Lantz, Nova Scotia) member Thomas Ellis, is a graduate of Hants East Rural High in Milford, Nova Scotia. Ben is attending Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with a course focus in chemistry and physics. He hopes to teach high school science.
Janie Hache, daughter of Local 73 (Halifax, Nova Scotia) member Pierre Hache, is a graduate of Ecole Secondaire Nepisiguit (Nepisiguit Secondary School) in Bathurst, New Brunswick. She is attending University of Moncton on the campus of Shippagan and hopes to become a nurse practitioner.
Jeremy Jordan Lelis, son of Local 146 (Edmonton, Alberta) member Arnel Lelis, is a graduate of the W. P. Wagner High School in Edmonton. Jeremy is attending the University of Alberta and plans to become an electrical engineer.
Connor Lawrence MacDougall is the son of Local 580 (Halifax, Nova Scotia) member Edward MacDougall. Connor is a graduate of Eastern Shore District High in Musquodobolt Harbour, Nova Scotia. He is attending St. Mary’s University in Halifax and plans to major in physics.
Blaise Raymond Bellmore Markovich is the son of Local 169 (Detroit) member John Markovich. Blaise is a graduate of Cardinal Carter Catholic High School in Leamingtion, Ontario. He is attending St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, to pursue a degree in business administration and finance.
Jessie Dean Rowe is the daughter of Local 73 (Halifax, Nova Scotia) member Darren Rowe. Jessie is a graduate of West King’s District High School in Auburn, Nova Scotia. She is attending Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick to obtain a BA in English.
Adam Scott Weaver is the son of Local 359 (Vancouver, British Columbia) member Chris Weaver. Adam is a graduate of Rutland Senior Secondary in Kelowna, B.C. He is attending the University of British Columbia, Kelowna Campus. Adam plans to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and pursue a career in acting.
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Scholarship Essay
by Alexis K. Adie
Throughout the years, workers have always been the backbone of every institution. While this fact is irrefutable, workers were also subject to corruption at the workplace. It wasn't long ago that they were forced to work impossible hours at minute wages. Unions came about naturally from a general dissatisfaction. With these unions came great changes. They brought about the right to protest for better working conditions, salary regulations, and a shorter workday as well as a fostering of equality amongst workers.
There was a time when it was easy for a boss to exploit their workers. There were no laws condemning it nor was it especially looked down upon in high society. Those workers didn't even have the right to request better hours or pay. With the inception of the unions, workers were allowed to nonviolently protest when they felt that the conditions were unfair. This leveled the balance of power, giving more to the workingman. With this new power, they were able to deal with salary cuts and unfair work hours. Over time, the unions were able to put regulations on wages and help create the 40 hour work week. The equal pay encouraged a sense of equality amongst the workers. No matter their background, the same amount of work got them the same wages.
While labor unions have contributed enormously to the basic right of workers, there are those today set out to destroy them. Some claim union contracts and workers are too expensive and cause other workers to be fired and laid off. While they certainly are more expensive, the workers' time and energy should be worth that cost and with that comes the guarantee of craftsmanship and integrity. Unfortunately, unions must undergo many roadblocks today. Many workplaces are non-union and will not consider anyone who is in a union for fear of losing controllability. There are also anti-union laws being passed all the time. With all of these obstacles, unions have to enact new protocol and practices to ensure survival. Unions must improve their relationship with the American people and search for more opportunities and members. Over the years, union membership has declined drastically due to the outsourcing of labor positions in the United States. There is also a lingering animosity between industry and unions that dates back decades ago. A new and improved labor movement can facilitate in the regaining of popularity and the creation of a new industrial period in this country. By strengthening the unions and at the same time the labor industry; we can solve some of the unemployment issues by bringing those jobs back to America. In this campaign, there should be a research for those most often underprivileged: women and people of color. Both of these groups continue to make less than white males while doing the same quality and quantity of work. Unions can continue to serve those being exploited by the people of power and become, once again, the backbone of America.
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Scholarship Essay
by Hannah Wilson
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, unions have been credited with making improvements in both the wages and working conditions of their Brother and Sister members.
Minimum wage laws are put into place to give workers protection against unfair wages and excessive working hours. These laws are essential in ensuring that the working, man gets paid the rightful amount of money he deserves for his hard labor. The first ever minimum wage law was put into effect in the year of 1912 and ever since then, unions have been pushing for an increase in the minimum wage. Even in the upcoming year of 2014, it is rumored that unions across the nation will be pushing for a minimum wage that falls above the current $7.25 an hour minimum wage. External forces will argue that union members are already paid well above the minimum wage so why would they be pushing for an increased minimum wage. The answer is simply that unions are groups that think not only of its own member's benefits, but of the benefits for every single hardworking man and woman.
Unions also practice collective bargaining. Collective bargaining makes it possible for the members and/or representatives of the union and the employers to meet and negotiate the working environment of the employees. Before unions existed (and possibly in some non-union labor forces still today) the working conditions were as they were. The workers could try everything they could to make a change but still get very little or no change at all. It is a great thought to know that unions will bargain on their workers behalf to make sure that they have suitable working conditions.
Having good working conditions is a great improvement, but what's even better than having good working conditions? Having safe working conditions. In pre-union days, men, women, and children alike were found working in factories all across the United States. These workers worked inches from very unsafe machines. It was not uncommon for a person to get their finger, hand, or even arm cut off when fixing a machine that had broken down. The most devastating example of unsafe working conditions is probably the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that took place on March 25, 1911 when the employers locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. In those days, it was a common practice to lock all the doors to keep workers from pilfering and taking unauthorized breaks. Never again will such a tragedy take place though. Soon after the event unions went on strike and pushed for safer working conditions. Today government agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and contractor employees are paid to come in to union job sites and make sure that all the workers are laboring in a completely, 100% safe work environment.
Unions also put incentives in place to encourage their employees to learn continued job training. My father is a boilermaker with Local 40. As a boilermaker, he started off as an apprentice. In order to become a journeyman and gain a higher pay wage, he had to attend classes that improved upon his skills. Even now as a journeyman he still has to go to classes that help him to become more skilled and often he is rewarded in some way or another for going to the class. Having these incentives promotes the employees to become more educated about their job, and a higher educated employee equals higher quality work.
Although unions have made so many improvements in the lives of so many already, there is always room for more improvement. One way the union could improve is by setting more realistic goals for wages and benefits. Although making sure the wages and benefits of your employees is a good thing, employers may start to seek cheaper labor overseas. Unions should try to maintain a happy medium keeping the wages and benefits high enough so the employee doesn't have to worry about supporting their family and low enough so the employer doesn't seek elsewhere for the same labor at a cheaper price. Another thing that could be improved upon is the unfair dismissal laws.
Although these laws can be a good factor, they can also backfire and protect the position of a dishonest or incompetent employee. These laws actually reduce the employment rate because some employers are hesitant to hire new employees due to the fact that the cost of removing them for incompetence or dishonesty is so substantial. Unions should look in to mending the law to make it either easier or cheaper to fire an employee that has been found undoubtedly guilty of being incompetent or dishonest. All in all the union has been a great establishment that has brought improvement to the lives of countless people and shall continue pushing for a greater tomorrow for the workingman.
Thank the Union
by Gabe Mathews
The Union has given the most important contributions to the working system. This freedom seeking group have been improving the conditions of the workplace since just after the American Revolution. Individuals have died for the privileges that many may take for granted in the present.
The weekend is one improvement that many may not realize is the result of the efforts of the union. Thanks to the labor movement during the Industrial Revolution, most Americans and Canadians can enjoy some time off during the week with their families and loved ones.
Another major improvement which has been given to employees is the concept of a break during the workday. These breaks, though they may be small, are huge in the sense of freedom.
Social security is another upgrade which the Union helped to accomplish. Before social security had been invented, the economic portion of workers lives contained no sense of security in the presence of unfortunate times. This lack of security was very apparent when the Great Depression had many Americans trapped in economic freefall.
The final improvement to working conditions which deserves a great deal of acknowledgement is the application of minimum wage. Employers could pay their workers very poorly before these wage laws were instituted via the labor union.
Without the efforts of this brotherhood corporation leaders would threaten the existence of these benefits, and in tum the employees who are working for them every day. These benefits also have room for improvement inside of the working society. Safety can always be increased within these occupations. Many employees are in dangerous, life threatening situations every day. Safety measures should continue to improve to ensure a safe environment for these workers. The labor union could also increase the security of retirement funds such as the pension plan and the annuity trust. These sources of cash flow need to be very stable for these employees to relax once their job is done with the brotherhood. As long as the labor union continues to work towards a better future, the workers of this nation are in good hands.
2014 Scholarship Essay
by Emily Mae Humphries
Four key improvements that they unions have made in the lives of American and Canadian workers are:
- Fair wages
- Fair benefits
- Political Force
Unlike 20 years ago when you could expect a long term job to have a certain amount of fatalities, today we can go to work safety free on same type of project. This is due to the Union's higher demand of safety regulations such as:
The leading cause of death on jobs was falling from higher elevations which lead to the improvement of workers wearing full body harness's and lanyards while working at a set elevation. In response to today' s safety standards the Union developed the Most Program which provide jobs with a drug free worker, provide teaching for different aspects of today' s work.
These are just two key safety improvements that the Unions have developed over the years to keep external forces that threaten them at bay such as: Non Union employers that are not withheld to the same safety standards that Union workers are.
The second key improvement is the establishment of fair wages. Unions negotiate better wages for their members, so that they are paid a fair wage to today' s standard. Unions reduce wage inequality because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers, more for blue-collar than for white-collar workers, and more for workers who do not have a college degree.
The biggest external force that threatens this improvement is the Right to Work Law. The Right to Work Law is a state law that stops employers and employees from negotiating an agreement.
The third key improvement that the Unions have developed is fair benefits. Unionized workers are more likely than their non-unionized counterparts to receive paid leave, more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and more likely to be in employer provided pension plans. Not only are Unions more likely to have a guaranteed benefit in retirement, their employers contribute 28% more toward pensions.
The biggest external forces that threaten this improvement is non union companies that are working with the Right to Work states and taking away from Union benefits.
The fourth key improvement that Unions have developed is political force. The unions play a role in political involvement and the more involvement we have the more we achieve together. The more people who support an issue the more likely legislatures are to vote in its favor. The external forces that threaten our involvement with politics is other political issues their self.
One key improvement that Unions need to make for the future is to have a even more safety conscious worker than what we have now. The challenge with this is the older more experienced workers are not very open to the new safety culture that we have to have to meet future demands.
Another key improvement would be the productivity of our work force. The challenges to meet this are absentees with workers. Workers that are not there to give a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.
Scholarship Application 2014 Essay
by Coltin A. Smith
Throughout the years unions have been the backbone of the workforce in the United States. Unions have always fought to protect the labor workers' rights and have made many key improvements over the years to support and enhance the lives and job situations of the working man and woman. Unions began forming in the U.S. in the 1790s to protect trade workers from unfair wages and excessive work hours. Due to these improvements, workers were able to have a better quality of life, and therefore encouraged to work harder and produce better products.
As the years have gone by, unions have continued to make sure that workers get fair wages and work hours. Some companies who are trying to create larger profit margins threaten the fair wages and work hours of union workers by choosing non-union workers whom they can pay lower wages. These two things are the most prominent improvements that unions have made, but there are others that are important to the development of the workforce. Another vital improvement that unions have made for workers is that they keep the highest safety standards. A union worker compared to a non-union worker on the same job must abide by more safety rules and precautions, which better protects the union worker from injuries that could happen on the job. Some union workers may see the non-union workers lack of precautions, and believe that he doesn't need them if they don't, which threatens this improvement. Along with safety regulations, unions have also improved the quality of life once workers are retired. Many labor employers supply little to no money for retired employees, while most union workers receive a generous pension to support them after retirement. Also, due to superior pay and quality of life that unions provide for their workers, they have raised the standards for all companies, union or non-union, supplying improvements for all American workers. This shows that unions benefit all American workers, regardless if they are union members or not. Big companies threaten this idea because they desire to keep unions out to keep better control over their workers.
These are just a few of the numerous improvements that unions have made throughout the history of the workforce in America, which have bettered the quality of life for many Americans. Although there are very few flaws in the American unions, there are a couple of ideas that could add even more improvement to the lives of American workers. One problem that union members face is that when they retire their insurance becomes much more expensive. One possible solution to this problem would be to create a retired union worker fund that would be similar to a pension to provide money from the union worker's payment for insurance when they are ready to retire. Another problem that unions face is that the requirements to enter some apprenticeship programs do not cover every aspect of the job, but only the minimum skills required. To improve this, there should be a more extensive entry level assessment that would test broader aspects of a worker's aptitude instead of solely focusing on a specific skill set. This would better determine potential workers who have the problem solving skills to be a successful part of that particular union. This would, in tum, create a more professional and skilled generation of union workers that would cause companies to be more encouraged to hire them over non union workers.
Unions have always provided improvements for American working conditions and without them American workers would be lacking support and protection. Unions were created to provide a better quality of life for workers, and have continued to make improvements since the beginning of their existence. Unions give workers the voice they need to fight for the rights they deserve.
Key Improvements by Labor Unions
by Jerika Von Bank
I come from a family of union workers. My grandpa was a pipe fitter and my dad is a boilermaker. My grandparents worked many years in a Power Plant. Sometimes it is easy to overlook the difference that unions have made in my life, but I know that it is important to be thankful for the things that are often taken for granted. My dad has always been an honest, hard worker. He has taught me how important it is to try your best at everything you do, because hard work will pay off. My dad set high expectations for me academically growing up, and gave me the support to accomplish them. I am the person I am today because of my dad. I can thank labor unions for giving my dad the freedom to be home to raise me, even while he was working hard to support our family.
Something that most Americans can thank labor unions for is an eight-hour workday. A forty-hour work week is the standard for Americans. They wake up, go to work, and are able to be home for supper with their families. If Americans didn't have the right to work at set times, their employer would have a lot of power over them. The employer could make the employee work at odd hours at their own discretion. This doesn't work for people working full time jobs to support their families. Overtime is a great compensation for employees who work over forty hours. It allows the employer to have their labor needs met, while rewarding the worker for putting in extra time. I can be thankful to the unions of the nineteenth and twentieth century that fought for laws that protected the 8-hour workday. The people who helped the movement by going on strike and parading didn't give up when the first laws were passed that had too many loopholes to be effective. They were hard workers, and were underestimated by their companies. If my dad lived during that time, I am sure he would have helped the cause. I can remember when my dad would work overtime. We were sad that he couldn't be home with us, but we knew that he was earning a good amount of money for our family, so we didn't feel so bad.Laws have been set that protect the eight hour work day for Americans, but not everyone in this country follows the law like they should. Corruption in workplaces can be a threat to workers. For example, an employer can attempt to underpay workers for the work they have done. Employers can try to cheat workers out of their overtime pay and things alike by altering their bookkeeping on labor. The good thing is that if they are caught, the laws that labor unions have helped to pass will protect the worker.
Labor Unions have also helped the lives of workers and their families greatly by helping to improve workplace safety standards and regulations. This means that employees can go to work without fearing that they may not make it home to their families. Safety standards and regulations make sure that employers can't make workers perform dangerous tasks simply at command. As a boilermaker, my dad has to do some dangerous things. He has to climb into big heating tanks that could literally cook him if someone turned them on. That is a scary thought for us, his family. My dad has told me about the safety measures that make sure that he doesn't get hurt at work. For example, when he climbs into a boiler, he has the only key that can turn the boiler on from the control spot. That is a smart system. I know that labor unions have helped make safer working environments for my dad and many other workers alike. That is a really great thing, and that is the way it should be; a safe work place should be a human right. I am thankful that labor unions have fought for what my dad and workers like him deserve in a workplace.
That being said, sometimes workers can still be forced to do things that they shouldn't have to. A corrupt employer could threaten a worker to manipulate them into performing unsafe tasks. Employers could neglect the safety standards and create an unsafe workplace. The workers are not helpless though, because they can demand safe working conditions due to the laws that have been passed requiring them, thanks to labor unions. Unemployment Insurance is an improvement by labor unions that has greatly improved the lives of American workers and their families. Unemployment Insurance gives families peace of mind, knowing that if one of their sources of income is impaired, they will still be supported financially while the provider finds another source of employment. Without this insurance, families would be helpless. There would be a lot more homeless families. When the economy isn't good, people need help staying on their feet and recovering from financial losses.
Unemployment insurance helps people to stay afloat financially and keep pursuing work opportunities, without the stress of going broke. I can remember times growing up when my dad would be laid off from work. My family was able to enjoy the extra time with my dad, without having to worry about losing our home.
If a worker's employer says that a worker has been terminated for reasons other than lack of work, the worker can be denied unemployment benefits. This is bad because an employer can victimize the worker for reasons at their own discretion. Employers can abuse their power in this way, and it can be hard to prove that the worker was not fired for something that they did wrong. There are wrongful termination laws, but it can still be hard for the worker to prove that their rights were abused.
Pensions are something similar to unemployment benefits. They also greatly improve the lives of American workers thanks to labor unions. With pension, workers can plan on retiring at an appropriate age and not have to worry about supporting themselves financially. Retirement should be a reward for a person's life of work, and no person should be denied this time of rest as they near the end of their life. I am thankful for pension because I know that my dad won't have to work himself to death, literally. I know that a career as a boilermaker is hard on a worker's body. It would make me sad if my dad had to work longer than his body could handle it. I want my dad to be healthy and alive for his future grandchildren to get the opportunity to know him. Every hard worker should get the chance to know their grandchildren, and they can have that opportunity thanks to pension and labor unions.
Pension can be threatened when government officials change their policies. Workers’ pensions can be cut, leaving workers helpless against the people that govern them. This is sad because people go through their lives with the mindset that they will be taken care of after they stop working. When government officials take this right away from workers, they can feel cheated by their own country. America is known as the land of opportunity, where hard work will pay off. What if people put in the hard work and they don't get the rewards they deserve? That could cause big problems in the welfare of the people and the economy.
Child Labor Laws are substantial improvements to America because of Labor Unions. America has come a long way since the days when its children worked in factories. It seems like ages ago, but it was only last century that children were being exploited. It is appalling to think that I was alive during the same century. Children are the future of a country, and should be treated like so. Factories are not places for children to learn and grow to become successful. Children were taken advantage of because they could be paid less and were less likely to go on strike. That is a great infringement on the innocence of children, and is completely inhumane. Because of labor unions, children are now able to go to school for free in safe environments and prepare themselves for a bright future.
The innocence of children can still be preyed upon today in workplaces. Older children ages 14 to 18 are legally able to work. They are still lawfully required to go to school, but some children are working part time jobs while trying to handle their schoolwork. There are laws that regulate how many hours and how late these children can work, but they can be changed. In 2011, Maine lessened the restrictions on working minors: they could work 24 hours a week instead of the previous 20, and work until10:15 on a school night, fifteen minutes later than before. Employers could then require the minors to work more, which would inevitably hamper their performance in school; this was proved by teachers reporting more students falling asleep in class. At an age where they are very impressionable, working adolescents should be strictly protected by laws.
An improvement that labor unions could seek in the future is to help educate the future workforce of America. Representatives of labor unions could visit high school and educate kids on the benefits of being a union worker. They could educate them on the need for skilled trade workers, who are often union workers. Most high school students are pressured to move on to college. They are told that having a college degree is their only option for being successful in the future. It would be beneficial to many to learn about other options, since college is not for everyone. A challenge that could face labor unions is gaining the approval of schools to allow a representative to speak with students. This challenge could be surmounted by providing school officials with information that proves that a union worker in the trades can lead a successful life, and argue that students deserve to learn about all of the options they have for their future.
Another way that labor unions could help improve America would be to focus on helping the immigrants who are herded into America by large corporations, such as those in the meatpacking industry. Mexican workers are often tricked into taking dangerous jobs that are not well regulated for safety. These large companies go through workers quickly because of the bad working conditions, so they desperately recruit illegal immigrants. These people are victimized since they cannot fight for rights they don't have as a non-citizen. Instead of arresting the company officials who recruit the illegal workers, the police force in America has been punishing the workers. This is a very-corrupt system. It could be hampered if the corrupt companies were more regulated, and if potential workers were aware of the conditions of their future job. Labor unions would have to face the large corporations that are profiting from exploiting the workers, and they are very powerful. If labor unions helped to raise awareness of the problem, there would be more power in numbers, and the problems could hopefully be fixed with the help of the American people.
Labor Unions have accomplished a lot in this country throughout history. They have positively impacted millions of lives. There are still many ways that America can be improved, and labor unions provide the leadership that people need in order to accomplish things that better America. If everyone worked hard and fought for what they believe to be right, we could make great progress as a country and as humankind. We should be able to fight for our rights as humans, but we need the help of each other to accomplish great things. The future is in our hands.
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
2014 Scholarship Essay
by Katelyn Kearney
Unions emerged after the completion of the American Civil War and their success came after the publication of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The Wagner Act, part of the New Deal, gave workers the opportunity to belong to a union that would negotiate fair wages, protect from injury, and limit the maximum number of hours worked. It allowed employees of labor companies to work hard, have a high quality of life, and be fairly compensated. Since then, two major umbrella organizations have emerged: the American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations and the Change to Win Federation (created in 2005). Unions have helped people included in many different types of occupations, such as construction workers, diagnostic technicians, registered nurses, teachers, government workers, firefighters, policeman, factory workers, warehouse workers, and utility workers have higher wages, better retirement plans, better health care, paid leave, protection from discrimination, and most importantly, have a stronger voice in their communities.
According to data collected in 2011, there is a $10,400 difference in the yearly earnings of union workers versus non-union workers. Some healthcare union workers can have up to a 33% higher salary than their nonunion counterparts. Unions help people receive the compensation that they deserve for the necessary duties they provide fellow Americans with on a daily basis. This, in turn also helps motivate them to do their best at their work. Electricity, safety, comfort, health, power, appliances, and shelter are all necessities and we need individuals who can provide them to the best of their ability for an extended period of time, and fair pay helps to ensure that.
Likewise, union workers and their families are 28% more likely to be covered by employer provided health insurance than non-union workers. This gives them the opportunity to seek out dental care, vision care, prescription drug benefits, yearly physicals, and a myriad of other medical necessities. Unions give people and their families the opportunity to have a high quality of life and reach their highest potential without having to neglect themselves or put themselves in a negative financial situation. Like previously mentioned, this is great for the workplace because it is ensuring that all of the employees are in their best physical condition to complete the task at hand. Thanks to unions, the employees can be focused and driven.
Paid leave is an important consideration to think about when joining a company. It ensures that one's family can be supported even in tough times and situations of poor health. About 80% of union workers are offered paid sick time.
Lastly, union workers are 53.9% more likely to have a pension provided by their employer. This means that about 80% of union employees were promised monthly income despite their retirement. Appreciation and support of previous employees is a vital necessity in any company. It motivates people to stay with a company, value and respect what the company stands for, and make the best of the time that they spend as an employee.
Recently, there have been threats to the well functioning of unions. These threats include employees going to court claiming that they should not have to contribute to funds being used for collective bargaining and large franchises taking on government provided and union protected jobs. A current court case, Ranis V. Quinn, details a at home medical care provider, paid with Medicade dollars, who does not want to be forced to pay dues to be used for collective bargaining because he is not part of the union. The case reached the Supreme Court and the plaintiff is being supported by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the defendant is being supported by the state of Illinois and the White House. Another threat to unions is the introduction of union protected occupations into nonunion franchises. Recently, dozens of Staples stores around the country have introduced "Postal Service retail centers". They are ambushing a 200,000-member group: The US Postal Service Union Workers. The Staples stores are defending their actions saying that it is a way to increase customer satisfaction and ease the process of sending items around the world. If this is to continue, traditional post offices are in danger of being closed.
Two possible improvements that unions may seek to research and possibly take action on are the fact that they protect individuals without a college education and incorporating more observation on union members to ensure top performance. Protecting individuals without a college education may not be the best approach because having a college education can provide many life changing opportunities and experiences, despite what occupational dream one might have. It also sets a great example for that union member's children, if he or she were to go to college. Some opportunities it may bring are the ability to be employed at two jobs. Someone may want to be an electrician as their main job, but be a substitute teacher to earn extra money for their family. Having a college degree can only further one's potential. In order for this improvement to be successful, Unions would have to put more pressure on its members to attend and graduate from a college or university. They could possibly offer an incentive, like more vacation time or more paid leave to those with a college degree. It is a possibility that using an additional observation program would highly benefit both the company and the workers. I believe that introducing an operation that focuses not only on the performance of leadership positions, but on the duties and performance of standard day workers could make a huge difference. The company's productivity and income would increase because any members that are not up to standards can be sent to a headquarters for additional training. The members would also benefit by having access to additional training and education. They would never be using out of date methods or procedures. A challenge that would have to be overcome in order for this observation program to take place would be hiring people qualified to sit in on the job and having a system for retraining union members or refreshing them on certain topics. This could easily be overcome with organization and a desire for companies and systems to run at their highest potential.
All in all, unions have had a tremendous positive impact on their members. They have provided fair pay, health coverage, benefits, retirement plans, and paid leave. They give their members every opportunity to preform at optimal levels everyday that they come to work. They also ensure a middle-class and keep businesses level. In the days before unions, people worked too hard, for too long, and for too little pay. Unions have allowed for Americans to achieve their highest potential, provide for their families in a myriad of ways, and ensure fair treatment in the workplace. I am proud of be the daughter of a union worker and aspire to join a union later in my career.
The Progress of Labor Unions
by Heather Wardlaw
Labor unions began to form in the mid-nineteenth century. Since then labor unions have changed the way workers are compensated and have reinvented the workplace. Labor unions have helped improve the working conditions in many areas of work. As the daughter of a boilermaker it is nice to know that when my father goes to work that the correct safety procedures are being practiced. Before unions there was no one to stand up for the workers and make sure that they were not being taken advantage of. Health is a major concern in our world today and always has been. Even though it is never going to be completely safe to climb onto tanks that are several hundred feet high it is good that this is being made as secure as possible. Employers are a possible risk to this accomplishment of labor unions. Having safety be so strictly regulated means that employers have to hire people to look after this, which means spending more money. If possible, many employers would probably be willing to get rid of safety managers and assistants in order to raise their own salary.
Another thing that labor unions have won for the workers is the appropriate pay for each worker's job. Union workers average 10-30% higher pay than non-union workers in the United States. Jobs where union opportunities are available often have a history of underpaying their workers, which is why unions were established in the first place. Since unions have been established workers have received a more accurate pay for the hours they work and conditions they work under. This is another accomplishment made by labor unions that is threatened by employers. If employers did not have to give fair wages they would be able to keep the money for themselves, and because Americans are known for their greed it is likely that that is exactly what would occur if unions disappeared.
Through collective bargaining unions have also managed to improve the benefits workers may receive from their jobs. Unionized workers are 28.2% more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance and 53.9% more likely to have employer-provided pensions than workers who are not part of a union1. A salary is not the only thing that workers need, especially workers who are in dangerous areas on a daily basis like many boilermakers are. Health insurance has become a very big deal over the last few years and it is important that everyone is protected. Having health insurance through an employer simplifies the health insurance process and shows that employers care about each of their employees as more than just someone who can get the job done well.
AFL-CIO also offers Union Privilege. This is one of the most inventive ways that unions offer benefits to their members. This program makes it easier for working class families to live better and happier lives. From life insurance to discounted movie tickets Union Privilege helps workers to be able to do the things they want to do. This program is important because it gives working families opportunities they may not have if the program was not created. This is threatened by anyone who believes this program is not worth funding. If the funding for this program were stopped then union members would no longer be able to receive any of these benefits, which would be a pity since many of them greatly improve the lives of union workers.
Even though labor unions have overcome many things and improved workers lives there are still improvements that need to be made. One of the improvements that should be made is raising the percentage of people in the United States who are part of a union. In 2013 it was estimated that only 11.3% of workers in the Unites States belonged to a union, while in 1983 20.1% of workers belonged to a union2. Because the percentage of workers has been cut almost in half the effectiveness of unions has been lowered. If unions do not reach more people they will eventually lose power altogether. In order to reach more people unions will have to spend money and time reaching out to other organizations and the general public. The more people that know about unions and the benefits of being part of one the more effective union policies will be.
Another problem that needs to be fixed with labor unions is the low amount of Republican support. A poll taken in August 2013 shows that only 26% of Republicans approve of labor unions3. With support this low it will be more difficult for labor unions to get laws passed through the federal government. In order to get more support from Republicans, unions will have to make a few compromises. Even though unions are generally thought of as something only the Democratic Party will favor it is important to have a wider range of support. If unions could outline what they plan to do and express their feelings more clearly than they might begin to receive support from the Republican Party. Even though unions will have to compromise on certain things, for instance how drastic certain changes to the workplace are, it will be better in the long run because once they receive general approval people will be more likely to vote yes for union laws again.
Boilermakers Scholarship Program
by Lauren Life
Before the commonplace use of unions that we see today, workers were subject to unfair wages, hours, and working conditions. Even in modern Canada and the United States, unions are immensely important in protecting the rights of the worker. One improvement unions have made in the lives of workers is better wages. Before unions, many laborers were forced to accept minimum wage jobs, which provided hardly enough on which to get by. Another improvement made by unions is in safer and more comfortable working conditions. Prior to the organization of unions, many workers, particularly in factories, were subjected to handle dangerous machinery and accidents were frequent. Yet another improvement made by unions is in providing workers with more reasonable work hours. Historically, workers were made to work for the majority of the day. Unions helped provide restrictions on the maximum number of hours allowed per workday. Overall, the greatest improvement made by unions is the provision of a voice to the working class, allowing them to make their requests heard and answered.
These improvements are of crucial importance in the lives of the workers. Without these developments, workers could still be subjected to the dehumanizing factory work seen during the Industrial Revolution. Better wages, hours, and conditions are what allow members of the working class to live comfortably, preventing their being caught in economic traps, such as the Iron Law of Wages. External forces threaten the benefits provided to workers by unions in that these forces are not concerned about the wellbeing of the worker. For example, large companies may try to dismantle or fight against a union, solely because the union is preventing them from maximizing their profits. An external force such as this is not troubled by issues regarding workers' rights, and therefore is willing to do what it can to abolish the benefits instilled by the union.
Two key improvements that unions should seek in the future are the issues of strikes and lockouts. Strikes occur when workers are unsatisfied with their union managers because they will not give them what they want. An employee strike is defined as the refusal to work as a form of organized protest, typically in an attempt to obtain a particular concession from their employer. This is often a problem for unions because the managers are unable to continue to run their business without the work of their employees. Lockouts are a similar problem, and are essentially the opposite of strikes. A lockout is defined as the exclusion of employees by their employer from their place of work until certain terms are agreed to. This presents the same problem presented by strikes; without employees, the managers cannot continue to run their businesses. To overcome these challenges, managers and workers must be able to come to agreements about their terms and conditions by negotiating, not striking or locking-out employees. It is important, however, that strikes and lockouts are legal, important rights for union members, but managers and workers should be more conscience when compromising, rather than jumping to such dramatic conclusions.
Unions Today and Tomorrow
by Mia Anne Kern
Unions are so important because they have positively impacted the lives of millions of workers since their conception in 1886 as the American Federation of Labor. Unions have made significant improvements in the lives of U.S. and Canadian workers by raising wages and compensation of unionized workers by about 20%. It also helps unionized workers receive better pension plans, with employers contributing up to 28% more, and more vacation time and paid leave. Another improvement is that unionized workers receive better health benefits then their nonunionized counterparts, with 18% lower health care deductibles. Unions also raise wages more for low and middle-wage workers than their higher-wage counterparts, which therefore reduces wage inequality. These improvements are so important because they positively impact millions of workers by increasing wages and benefits. Unions continually fight for these benefits because they help strengthen the U.S. and Canadian economies and improve the everyday lives of their workers.
Despite all of the benefits unions provide to low and middle class workers, there are still many that oppose them. Both the tea party and conservative lawmakers have, in the past, worked against unions by passing free trade agreements that outsource jobs to other countries with cheaper labor. They have also passed right to work laws which undermine some of the union's progress thus far. Not only do anti-union conservatives pass laws that work against unions, but they also publish non-union message through a variety of media sources. Also, by funding many business colleges and universities, the right-wing conservatives can control what is taught about unions. Even though unions help so many workers across the U.S.A. and Canada, the anti-union efforts are still a major threat to the progress of unions.
Despite their benefits for blue-collar workers, unions still have many challenges to overcome. Unions should seek to organize more white collar employees, as unions have reduced the number of jobs available in companies that are unionized. Though the unionized workers receive higher pay and better benefits, the taxpayers, nonunionized workers, corporation owners and unemployed suffer loses. In fact, unionized workers are, on average, paid 15% higher than similarly skilled nonunion workers. Unions should also work towards teaching the next generation a positive message about the benefits of being a unionized worker. This might prove to be especially difficult because teenagers and young adults generally know very little about unions. Once the message is more widely taught in America, unions can progress even further with the support of the next generation.
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
2014 Scholarship Essay
by Rebecca Lynn Hutsell
The history of the United States is 237 years of many monumental events that have helped shaped the country into what it is today. However, most of these events have recurring themes. The writing of the Declaration of Independence, the women's rights movement, the civil rights movement, and the creation of unions all share a common element. All of these events involve a group of people standing up against authority to defend their rights and protect what they believe is fair and just. Although all of these events are equally important, the differences that they made in the lives of United States citizens vary. The establishment of labor unions has arguably had the most impact on the lives of not only United States workers, but Canadian workers as well. Unions have made key improvements in the lives of millions of people, and have created a middle class, so that any man or woman can lead a comfortable and successful life. The most important improvements that unions have made in the lives of United States and Canadian workers are: reasonable hours, great benefits (which include healthcare and retirement plans,) safer conditions, and better wages. Although unions are truly a wonderful thing, there is always room for improvement. Two things that unions can do to improve in the future are to increase the accessibility to join unions, therefore increasing the number of people working in unions, and to also partner up with non-union competition.
At the start of the industrial revolution, factory workers got the short end of the stick when it came to nearly everything in the workplace, from hours, to safety, to wages. Often times, corporations would be working people for 16 hours a day every day. Not only does that tire out the workers, but it decreases the efficiency of the factory as well as the products that it was producing because of the toll that the unreasonable amount of hours was taking on the workers. Thanks to the rallying of workers who formed a union, a standard, full-time work day is now only 8 hours. Because of the strong impact that unions had on this movement, many other companies across the country have developed the rule of an 8-hour work day as full time. This gives employees an adequate amount of time to sleep and be healthy so that they can perform at the highest level that they are capable of. Without unions, this change may never have occurred.
Union workers are also reaping the benefits of healthcare and retirement plans. Many workers in the United States have jobs, and then they have separate health insurance as well as retirement plans such as a 401k. However, union workers are lucky in the way that their job provides them with tools that can better their life outside of the workplace. Every paycheck, a portion is given to healthcare, and another portion is taken out to save for the future, whether it is in a pension or an annuity. Right from the start, people who work in unions can consider themselves having a career because in a way, they will be set for life if they continue to work. This is important because it enables workers to live a healthy life, and retire when they are eligible with the luxury of still being able to live comfortably without having to work anymore. Many other industries have adapted this policy as well, but all unions have this benefit of healthcare and retirement, and they can greatly improve the life of a worker.
Unions have also made a large impact on the safety of workers. When many workers started their work in factories during the Industrial Revolution, the conditions were extremely unsafe. Young children were working in factories, losing limbs during work was common, and many pollutants were in the air of the factory that the workers inhaled, causing health problems. In the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, 146 workers were killed because of unsafe conditions in the factory and no way to escape. The doors were locked by the owners, because they wanted to eliminate the chance of any employee taking an unauthorized break. This event, along with the other unsafe conditions, caused the workers to rise up and fight against the businesses they were working for. Due to the formation of unions, workers were granted the safety they deserved, and children were removed from factories in 1916. Without the uniting of people fighting for their rights, disasters like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire could still be happening today.
The biggest impact that unions have made in the lives of United States workers and Canadian workers lives is the constant battle for better wages. The earliest strike recorded in US history against a wage reduction was in 1768 for a New York tradesman. Ever since then, unions have been establishing and fighting for the wages of workers, who deserve every penny they earn. Working in a labor union, (especially skilled tradesmen) entails a great deal of hard work, skill, and concentration. The International Typographical Union created in 1852 was the first to bring together US and Canadian workers, who all fought for better wages. The increased pay for the union workers helped to develop the middle class. Many corporations wanted to hire people to work for them, and pay them unreasonable wages so that there was a gap between the rich and the poor, creating an aristocratic society. Even in more recent years, people who believed in Marxism thought that the people wanted a growing middle class with skilled trades because they were preparing for a working class revolution. That, however, is far from the truth. Many people who work in labor unions are good people who just want to make an honest living and be able to support a family. Thanks to unions, workers were able to do that and develop a middle class, far before the minimum wage laws were passed. Even today, union representatives are out negotiating contracts so that the workers are getting what they earn, and nothing less.
Although unions seem like a great thing because of all of these reasons, they have many forces working against them. Corporations don't like unions because they feel that unions prevent them from expanding their corporation. Unions are only in existence because they all want what is best for the working class. Many laws are being passed in states that are in favor of right to work and eliminate collective bargaining. These things are what tears unions down, because they enable people that are unskilled to take jobs away from people that are qualified, and they take away the right to negotiate contracts that seem unfair. Although many union workers and liberal democrats are standing up for themselves, this is a battle that several conservatives are winning across the country.
With that in mind, the question that comes about is, how can unions improve? Well, from a girl who has grown up 18 years of her life with a boilermaker father, I can say that I've had to explain his job to a number of my confused friends, who are unaware of what boilermakers do. Labor unions and skilled trades as a whole are great programs that many people can get into, but they are not aware of how to get into the apprenticeship, or aren't aware of the job in general. In today's society, almost every student graduates thinking that they need to go to a 4 year college and get a degree. Many are unaware that a great job is waiting for them with full benefits and great wages. Raising awareness of these apprenticeship programs to young people graduating high school would be an easy way to increase membership and restore faith in unions. 35% of workers in 1960 were members of unions, and today, only 6.6% of workers are. That is a very dramatic decrease that could go back to increasing if awareness of these opportunities were raised. In addition, many unions such as the UAW are competing with multinational corporations who hire workers in developing countries who work in non-union conditions, meaning unsafe conditions with low wages and unreasonable hours. Perhaps the international labor organizations could extend outside of just the US and Canada, and spread their ways to other countries in places like Central America and the Far East. Although it is far-fetched, anything is a start. Unions are a great thing and the more people that join, the more the wealth can spread.
Thinking about how far the working class has come since the Industrial Revolution is truly amazing. Unions are the main source of that improvement, and some may wonder where the working force would be without the establishment of unions. From teachers, to autoworkers, to boilermakers, unions support and improve the lives of many people. Being a Detroit native and seeing all the labor unions gathering in the city in September to march and show pride in their unions and how they have improved the lives of American and Canadian workers is inspirational and a monumental part of history.
by Tanner Sammons
Unions in America, Canada, and around the world have made, and continue to work toward, many contributions that have improved upon the lives of their workers. Through unions, members have gained copious wage, working condition, and work schedule improvements; all of which are gained by the power of a large group as opposed to the single worker.
Throughout the last century, unions have fought for the individual, the average everyday worker. They have fought for many improvements that include the creation of regulatory administrations, they have advocated the standardized work schedule, and they have lobbied for other supplementary benefits. A single person by their self would have little chance of making these changes; however, with the backing of union groups, government has a greater chance at being swayed.
The major regulatory agency in the United States is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA (in Canada, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety). Unions lobbied for this agency, and it has greatly improved the working conditions that workers faced. OSHA enforces rules and other laws that improve a worker's physical, mental, and social well-being. Ever notice that public workplaces have doors that open outward? That is so that workers can escape the building in case of fire. Construction workers are required - for their own safety - to wear hard hats, eye protection, gloves, and other equipment depending on the type of hazards they may encounter. The aim is for the people who do these jobs to be able to do their job safely and thus happily. Other organizations such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration specifically address the issues in their respective jurisdictions. Union workers have fought for these organizations. However, there seems to always be legislative proposals that threaten to reduce the potency of these safety organizations. This, coupled with the fact that safety is expensive to maintain and companies oftentimes decide to outsource their jobs to placed that don't have these regulations, makes these sort of improvements hard to implement.
At one time in history, working up to 12 hours a day, every day of the week was quite common. Unions have advocated the placement of various work schedule laws that encourage companies to not overwork their employees, so that, in turn, those employees can have lives outside of work. These people could then participate in their families and their communities. They could now also participate in their civic duties, allowing them even more freedoms. The standard work week is now set at 40 hours a week, with employers having to pay various overtime amounts for hours over that 40; the overtime is meant to discourage the long hours. Many unions individually negotiate working days as Monday through Friday, with overtime for working Saturdays and Sundays. Also, included are provisions for vacation days, sick leave, and holidays. Since overtime and paid time off is very expensive, this also encourages companies to outsource their jobs to cheaper places. Also, many workers desire more hours and or overtime, simply because jobs and money are scarce, especially in the recent recession.
What happens when a person gets hurt on the job, or comes down with a serious illness? Or when a person is too old to continue working the job that they had for so long? Fortunately, unions have used their influence to lobby bills that supplement a worker's wage. Retirement is something that most people invest in; it lets people retire later in life, without the need to worry about finances. Social Security is another agency similar to retirement, but it also has provisions for people who become disabled; so if someone is sick or hurt, he or she doesn't have to worry about their family. Unfortunately, many retirement plans involve money being invested into stocks, and in recent times, those stocks have stopped increasing in value, or even lost value. Another problem is that many people take advantage of these programs that are meant to help people, and that has left government programs short on funds.
One major improvement that unions could potentially make in the future is the further unionize more industry. They need to expand to include more workers. Most of the improvements to workers' lives listed above not only apply to unions and their members, but to every working man and woman in the countries that those unions are in. Unions lobbied for the regulatory agencies like OSHA, but OSHA isn't relevant to just members of those unions; every worker in America is entitled to the safe and fair employment practices as established by Occupational Safety and Health laws. So, without the continued growth of unions, America and other countries will not be able to efficiently combat unfair employment. Unions carry have strength in the number of people that they claim as members, so that these members can stand up to the oftentimes abusive corporate industry.
Another improvement that unions could make would be to have a goal of raising the minimum wage here in the United States, and establish minimum wage laws in places where there aren't any. The cost of living is increasing at a steady rate, but yet the amount many people are paid has not increased sufficiently, leading to the gap between the wealthy and poor widening. With the comfortable middle class disappearing, a rise in the minimum wage, at the very least, many people would be able to better support themselves and their families.
Unions are a very important force in today's world. The improvements they have brought about to their members and everyone else has greatly benefited the world. Some part of every working person's life has been touched somehow by these unions for the better. Therefore, unions should continue to provide the excellent representation of the working class that they already have, and then continue to expand upon that to continue making everyone's lives better.
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
2014 Scholarship Essay
by Tasha Swenney
Since the creation of labor union, many people have been positively impacted by them. Unions give their members many benefits that non-unionized workers do not enjoy. A greater voice in the workplace, a safer working environment, more qualified workers and workers that give back to the community are only some of the benefits that members and their neighbors enjoy.
Collective bargaining is the gathering together of workers in a union and those members bringing their concerns, needs and problems before the company. The strength found in theses greater numbers allows for resolution to these problems, creating happier workers. Safety training has become an integral part of every workplace, much to the credit of union workers. OSHA and other governmental safety management agencies have been created through the demands of union workers on lawmaking bodies.
Most unionized occupations require skilled, dedicated workers. Therefore unions have set up apprenticeship programs to create these skilled workers. These programs are often highly selective and rigorous once entered in to. Their purpose is to create these loyal and well trained workers, which in turn creates a better workforce. These workers also have a greater tendency to give back to their communities. Since they have this deeply ingrained sense of loyalty and togetherness given to them by being a union member, their desire to help others is most often greater.
Pension improvements and greater health benefits for retired workers are improvements that unions should seek for the future. Retired union workers have spent much of their lives working very hard so anything that can be done to make their retirement years better should be sought out, so that when someone does retire, they don't have much to worry about.
A struggling economy and job loss are two of the biggest threats to union workers today. Inflation and job cuts that come with the sputtering economy make the middle class life that most union workers live more and more difficult. Also, when companies choose to hire workers that are willing to work for less, but with worse conditions threatens not only the jobs and lifestyles of union workers, but those that live in their communities as well. Most unionized labor is skilled, sometimes dangerous work and replacing competent union laborers with those unfamiliar to those dangerous jobs can endanger the communities, along with the workers.
Unions have changed many peoples' lives for the better. Union members are skilled, respected and more vocal members of their communities. They create more of these jobs through apprenticeship training and make those jobs safer with safety training and regulations. Unions make a positive impact in not only the lives of their members but those that live in communities around the unions as well.
Union's are on your side
by Taylor Paige Dougherty
First, I would like to say that my father and my grandfather were both proud union members of Local 193 in Baltimore, Maryland for over twenty years. He has taught me everything I know about unions, and from what I have gathered, unions help more than hurt. I firmly believe that unions can be a helpful and profitable concept; they are a strong counterbalance to the forces that drive companies to wring every last dollar out of every single transaction, whether with their customer or their employee.
Unions gave us the weekends. In 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was sixty one hours - that is almost double what Americans work now. Without unions, companies would still be forcing 12 hour days, seven days a week, with no paid holidays, no paid vacations, no pay raises on their workers. Children, once they turned the correct age, would still be slaving away in unsafe factories alongside their parents for very little pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act was set in place by 1937 and helped create a federal framework for a shorter workweek that included time for leisure. The power of unions gave the United States the break we needed on unfettered capitalism.
Not only did unions set up important working condition laws and acts, but they also make sure that these laws are enforced. Some of these acts include laws against sexual harassment, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and 2011, which requires employers to pay women and men equally for the same amount of work, laws ending sweatshops, and the Americans With Disabilities Act. They also founded the Veteran's Employment and Training Services, which gives veterans a better chance to succeed in the working world. Because of the hard work of the union, child labor was ended in the United States. In 1881, the very first American Federation of Labor national convention passed in almost all fifty states and eventually went national in 1938. Without unions, our world would not be as equal and fair as it is today.
One of most important concepts that unions brought about is the compensation increases and evaluations. This is beneficial to both the company and the employee. Workers need motivation to work hard, and a raise for their hard work will do just that. While this may cost companies money that they do not wish to spend, they are compensated with harder working employees that may end up making back the money they cost the company. This concept has also allowed members to determine their own wage by deciding how hard they want to work. This is just one more amazing benefit that unions bring to the United States. Although unions are not perfect and have made some mistakes in the past, they do more good than bad. One concept that they may need to work on is decreasing union fees.
Although union members are receiving a multitude of benefits, employees may tend to overlook because of the high union fees. Lowering the fees may help the members become more aware of the amazing benefits they are actually retaining by being a member of a union. This may also defeat the idea that unions are only put in place to make money and rip hard workers off. Yes, there are some "bad unions", but that is going to happen no matter what type of organizations; every company has problems, so it is okay that unions do too. Instead of just accepting their issue, they overcome it and grow from it in the end.
The bottom line is that unions are needed in the United States and we should not be trying to eliminate them. Workers have the right to organize and manage their company and unions are just the way to do it. Union members and their leader have come to the table with reasonable requests and have negotiated to get what they feel their workers need. They are a completely necessary counter to unconstrained capitalism.
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
2014 Scholarship Essay
by Nicholas Parr
Unions have greatly affected North America. However their effects are fading as the number of union workers falls because people don't think unions are relevant or worse that they are harmful. These people forget that unions are responsible for virtually all the benefits and rights they enjoy at work, whether you work in the public or private sector, everyone gets to enjoy their rights and privileges because unions fought hard and long for them against big business who did everything they could to prevent giving workers want they deserved. These rights and privileges include many things that we hold dear today including, health care, fair wages, no child labor, and time off; therefore, it is imperative that unions attempt to keep themselves relevant by adapting to new political situations and a global economy.
Many people don't realize that their employer would probably much rather be spending money investing in the business than on providing healthcare for their employees. Not nearly long enough ago very few people had any kind of reliable healthcare. While for centuries people could only put themselves at risk by volunteering for dangerous jobs the rise of the industrial age brought people into new and often dangerous factories. Many workers had nowhere else to go so if their boss ordered them to do something dangerous they had to comply. This often resulted in injuries that the poor wages of employees could not hope to cover. It is this desperation that drove Unions to demand healthcare and so, in order to compete, other businesses had to do the same.
Meanwhile, when workers weren't toiling in the factories all day they often struggled to scrape by on their pitiful salaries. Extremely few people managed to make anything of themselves from the small wages they earned laboring in factories and assorted jobs. Eventually people figured out that if they stood together as a union then they could cause such a dramatic obstruction that the company would be forced to listen to their demands. However the last thing many companies wanted to do was lose money paying higher salaries to their comparatively unskilled workers and so they attempted to bust the early unions sometimes causing bloody massacres of poor desperate people just looking to earn enough to live on. But eventually their perseverance paid off and, they got decent enough wages that the income gap began to shrink and, the entire family didn't have to work to put a few morsels of food on the table.
Few realize just how dangerous the workplace can be, especially for a young inexperienced child. Even in a modem factory there are tons of moving parts all over the floor and assorted dangerous equipment that can bum, stab, or maim an unwary user. This was even worse in the old factories run by greedy managers who thought of and often still do think of nothing but productivity and stock prices. The managers did not see a child who might one day grow up to do something amazing but rather saw a tiny person perfect for slipping behind running machinery and conducting repairs, as well as someone who was unlikely to strike due to not knowing any better. Now, not only were men and women working terribly long excruciating hours but so were their children, and for that they would not stand and so, unions proved instrumental in the fight to regulate child labor with age and hour limits.
Before Unions were popular many people had sixty plus hour work weeks. At that rate they were not working to live but rather living to work. Many people only got to spend time with their families late at night when they finally got home. Eventually people got tired of never seeing their families and decided to demand they be given days off. Unions were eventually able to win weekends and paid time off for things like a new child, sickness, or even the occasional vacation. Before, if people wanted to take off for any length of time they could have lost their jobs, especially without being in a union, but if all the employees demanded to be allowed time off at the same time, there was little a business could do unless they were able to stamp out any pro union employees early.
Today's unions are starting to realize that they no longer hold nearly the sway that they used to. Unions need to adapt to new political situations by adopting broader forms of unions. Unions must help all workers everywhere with their problems. If Unions focus on lobbying then they can set the collective power of millions of Americans to lobby for laws where giant corporations would throw stacks of money. Unions have the power of numbers on their sides while a corporation can finance a politician's campaign to get elected. A union has the power to sway people to vote for a certain person directly, maybe even swinging entire elections if done well enough.
Unions also must deal with the problem of competing on a global market. This is something they have not had to do since any country that could compete with them was on a similar level as the United States in terms of economics. However, with the rise of nations like India and China with massive populations allowing for incredibly cheap labor, the Unions can't keep up. Unions must learn to adapt by becoming less rigid and more willing to negotiate so that companies can stay successful. Meanwhile, Unions should spread to developing nations in order to bring them up to similar standards of living that we enjoy here in the United States.
Unions are simple. By joining together, working men and women gain strength in numbers so they can have a voice at work about what they care about. They negotiate a contract with their employer for things like a fair and safe workplace, better wages, a secure retirement and family-friendly policies such as paid sick leave and scheduling hours. They have a voice in how their jobs get done, creating a more stable, productive workforce that provides better services and products. No matter what type of job workers are in, by building power in unions, they can speak out for fairness for all working people in their communities and create better standards and a strong middle class across the country.
Prosperity for All: The Struggle for Unionization and Workers' Rights
by Morgan Vincent
Not long after the American Revolution, the newly-empowered and enfranchised citizens of the United States embarked on a journey to secure the basic rights and privileges befitting their status as the true drivers of a modernizing industrial economy. The progress would not be steady, and the opponents plentiful, but the power of organized labor would succeed in establishing several cornerstones of prosperity. The minimum wage, pensions, the right to strike, leave compensation, and workplace safety laws are only a portion of the accomplishments of the labor movement, and only a selection of the targets of anti-worker corporations and political movements.
The modem minimum wage was established in 1938, as part of the great revolution in labor affairs of that decade. It came in the wake of the Wagner Labor Relations Act, which took the historical step of legalizing unions for large sectors of the American economy. This recognition was essential to combat the highly organized anti-labor businesses that tried to cut wages in the face of a depression.
The same act also recognized a labor organization's fundamental right to strike in the interest of its members. Before this protection, strikers were routinely fired, beaten, and blacklisted from their trade. Unfortunately, this right was curtailed by the Taft-Hartley Act, which wounded unions and is, regrettably, in force to this day. Pensions and leave compensation are vital to the work force. They provide job security and encourage workers to remain with a company to retirement. Before unionized labor, injured or aged employees could be and were fired at will, often to maintain the cruel pace of production. Using the tool of the strike, labor representatives helped establish laws that bind managers to limits on termination.
In addition to improving pay, unions were instrumental in improving the safety standards of factories throughout the United States and Canada. Early factories had horrendous conditions, and often employed underage workers to ensure control by management. The Occupational Safety and Health Act, passed on April 28, 1971, advanced the rights and health of workers while punishing violators of industrial safety regulations.
In the modern day, one of labors' most pressing concerns is the proliferation of ‘right-to-work’ legislation in various states. Even when both labor and management may favor unions, as was the case in the recent Tennessee Volkswagen debate, the laws and state governments have conspired to maintain union weakness. These laws that erode unions represent naked aggression on the part of pro-management legislators. Additionally, the American workforce has been threatened by job relocations to countries with no indigenous labor protections. Helping to create labor organizations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia will create a superior environment for oppressed workers and reduce the ability of corporations to use plant closures as a weapon against American workers. By supporting candidates who oppose anti-labor laws and movements and encouraging communities to support their own workers, unions can be guaranteed a future in the course of American society.
Unions Moving Forward
by Justin Keffeler
The Industrial Revolution gave way to a new America, in which workers were subject to a more streamlined, mechanical environment that was more hazardous and less financially rewarding than ever before. In response to labor abuses, unions sprang up in the U.S. and Canada, and quickly made a sweeping impact in the lives of those they championed.
The 40-hour work week and reigning in of child labor were enom1ous issues unions lobbied for. When the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed by FDR's administration in 1938, it set the tone for American labor heading into World War II. With too many hours stacking up on workers, the degradation of their health became a major concern. This standardized, lessened workload gave working men and women the rest they needed to be productive and safe on the job. The regulation of workers under the age of 16 also served to generate a safer, less exploited workforce. No longer could large corporations enlist the work of young children in their factories, often forcing them to make a choice between work and school. The primary threats to these examples of progress are laws that would change overtime pay, like H.R. 1406 in 2013. Such laws would make overtime pay poll into the future and hinder people just barely scraping by.
Pensions gave businesses an obligation to their workers. Unions were immense proponents of instituting pensions for retirees. This constant income for the retired ensures a quality of life more difficult to obtain in one's later years before the advent of the pension. Greed by corporate leader threatens the size and security of many pensions, as they may choose to decrease the payments or compromise them with unsound business practices.
Perhaps the most notable improvement in labor that can be attributed to the work of unions is the widespread met demands for fair wages. Starvation wages are no way to support a burgeoning nation of consumers. Fair and decent wages for all means more demand for domestic products and more money in the pockets of the folks who buy them. Some seek to reduce the wages for many workers in the hopes that companies can make more money. They fail to realize that money in the working man’s hand is money well placed, and that unfair wages tum back the clock of progress.
In the future, unions must seek to extend their outreach, albeit through technological or continental borders. The stigmatism attached to unions is the product of concentrated power and greed in impoverished countries, whose leaders implement laws that make it nearly impossible for unions to establish any meaningful changes. Navigating international boundaries to organize in countries unaware or distrustful of unionization may be the best step forward for unions, but also the people in those countries who lack the tools to earn the benefits American and Canadian union workers have enjoyed since each respective country's Industrial Revolution. With these countries going through the globalization of their economies and dealing with widespread skilled labor, the necessity for unionization is greater than ever.
One obstacle unions can address is the negative stereotypes associated with unions. By striving to be the executors of fair, happy mediums and generating good press, unions can address whatever reputation they have with certain people and be looked upon more favorably. This would be especially useful in foreign countries as mentioned above, but also in the U.S. and Canada to increase member density in other modem industries, thus facilitating a workforce eager to unionize.