Union versus Non-union Workplaces essay

A unionized workplace is characterized by workers having union representation, which implies that the union is charged with the responsibility of bargaining on behalf of the employees with the employer on various aspects including employment rules, benefit and wages among others. On the other hand, non-unionized workplace is an institution whereby employees are not members of the union; as a result, they are assumed to be lacking representation in the workplace. Therefore, in a non-unionized workplace, employees lack a voice. Moreover, employers determine the aspects of the employment relationship in terms of wages and rules among others. In Canada, these aspects have lead to the transformation of various industrial sectors in the field of communication, production, and individual’s morale. The management and relationships of employees also fall in similar category. The aim of this paper is to explore the similarities and differences in the union and non-union organizations.

Similarities between Unionized and Non-Unionized Workplace

Unionized and non-unionized workplaces are similar on various domains including labor legislation, certification, dispute resolution, and management relations, which are discussed below.

Labor Legislation

In Canada, both the unionized and non-unionized environments in various sectors abide by the Canadian labor regulations. However, every employee has the right to join and contribute to the trade union of his choice. These laws of labor sometimes define the meaning of an operator, and it is significant to check the guideline for the particular control. For instance, managers are not permitted to join or participate in the trade affairs in some jurisdictions. Under the constitution of Canada, labor legislation is the key role in the province. Each location has its work regulations to conduct the employees and employers in the region. Consequently, the central government has authority for these rules in federally synchronized companies. According to Butler the industries in the sectors of air transport, banks, telecommunication, and other international industries are likely to experience the effects of the legislation. In most cases, labor legislation helps to strengthen the bond between the employer, its employee, and the entire management. Additionally, the enacted laws on both parties create understanding and agreement to avoid any arising disputes and strikes.


Both the union and the non-union have the sense to be recognized by the government or an authorized body to allow the employer-employee negotiations. The organization may be legally recognized as an exclusive bargaining agent for a group of employees in the expected bargaining unit. The level and type of requirements may change from one jurisdiction to the other. In most occasions, the workplace must satisfy the Canadian Labor Relations Board that it has the prerequisites to be identified as viable and valid before its certification. Butler reported that, at the federal level in Canadian provinces, the labor board has the power to regulate employment relations the sector especially if the employer commits an unfair practice of labor. Once approved, the union attains the right to discuss with the company on behalf of the workers. In exchange, the union represents the workers in a free and fair manner. After authorization, the employees will typically set out a constitution and procedures for the locals.

Dispute Resolution

Both the union and non-union workplaces have the responsibility of solving any matter of the disagreement in the management. In the same context, the disputes may arise in two different types. One is the interest litigation that occurs between the negotiating parties regarding the terms and conditions. The other source of argument is the right dispute that develops between the parties about the employment of specific provisions to employees. Therefore, the management in both union and non-union workplaces has a universal responsibility of ensuring that the emerging issues and problems are solved successfully.

Management Relations

Every worker has to obey the obligations of places of work as the solitary and restricted agent of the employees. On the other hand, the organization must have the policies that do not harm the rights and responsibilities of the worker. However, both parties must identify and acknowledge their obligations under labor and other rules related to employment. In both union and non-union workplaces, the employees have the right to join and participate in peaceful demonstrations including strike without fear of intimidation. As a matter of fact, the workplaces offer the employees with training sessions to improve the productivity of its daily activities. In so doing, particularly in business sectors, there will be an increase in the production of goods and services that later expand the marketing of the manufactured commodities in Canadian industrial regions. Besides, both the workplaces should award the employees fairly according to their activities in their areas of professionalism. Consequently, the employer is obliged make sure that the working condition and health of the worker is in respectable state. Both unionized and non-unionized workplaces are encouraged to offer promotion, recreational activities and other benefits to encourage the employees and sustain them in the business sections or other areas within the organization.

Differences between Unionized and non-unionized Workplace

The primary difference between union and non-union workplace is flexibility. An investigation conducted in Canada shows that a union worker typically works for a longer time compared to the non-union worker. No matter how the work is loaded, the union-employee must ensure that he or she completes the work as stipulated by the board. For this reason, it is difficult for workers to bring new methods of performing tasks because the union has to agree to the changes. This inflexibility can affect cross-training since some unions believe that a worker has one role in his area of specialization. The circumstances may become exasperating to the employees more so during recurring shifts in a volume of work or when an employee is ill. The contrary holds as most non-unionized organizations have a flexible workforce that can reorganize tasks based on the requirement of the industry. However, more working hour in unionized part reflects a higher pay than non-unionized. In Canada, unionized part time employee tends to work more hours in a week. The combination of the average hourly wages with the weekly income, therefore, increases from $181.65 to $ 343.94.

In a union workplace, communication and presentation of grievances is a barrier to the workers. For example, the complaints of the employees are handled in a different manner. Similarly, the firms have a clear set of rights that are outlined in their collective agreement. These trade unions demand that information must pass through the representatives of the management and be agreed with them in advance. In this way, the opinion of the board is set to provide a solution without engaging the other workers in the decision- making process. An individual sometimes get worried as this process of communication takes much time. Therefore, a significant hindrance may occur as one may be unable to trust the credibility of the leaders. Unlike in the case of union workplace, a non-union organization encourages free participation since members are not restricted to certain regulations. Instead, the workers are subjected to the whims of management. Communication process sometimes becomes easy and fast. During decision making, the workers may be involved to present their opinion.

Labor union organization inhibits the effectiveness of teamwork and dependence while non-unionized workplace influences independence among the individuals. However, most of the workers who belong to the union environment adopt laziness and can decide to be unproductive. The behavior develops because the person might have an advantage of the community work. The incidence sometimes enhances competition among the workers concerning the amount of work to be done by someone else. Subsequently, the production of goods and performance of the organization may decrease and later impact on the Canadian economy. On the contrary, non-unionized workplace influences independence and no form of competition often crop up.

The employees who belong to union receive a higher pay than those of non-unionized. In Canada, the average full- time worker who belongs to a labor union environment earns an hourly rate of $20.29. Unlike the union employees, the non-unionized workers averagely receive $17.22 per hour.

Future Role of Unions

In a private industry in Canada, trade unions have not suffered the losses of the reducing membership compared to other countries like France and United Kingdom. However, there are indications of stagnation in the union growth. In spite of the rise in the union membership in Canada, membership growth has failed to catch up with the upsurge in the non-agricultural paid labor force. As a result, the union density that stood at 38% in 1982 has declined to 30% in 2012. In other words, in future, unions in Canada will be weak and will play a minimal role in influencing labor relations as they have done in the past. To explain the reason for stagnation in unionization in the Canadian private sectors, structural shifts in the economy is said to be the major cause. In this respect, unions are increasingly being subjected to pressure from employers as well as the government to embrace lessened benefits and freezes in wages. Moreover, unions in Canada are also being requested to play an active role enhancing firm productivity including work processes. In addition, labor legislation and public policy limits the organization and collective bargaining. Moreover, employer hostility to unions and unfavorable public opinions contribute to this decline. The decline in union activity has been reported mainly in goods producing sectors such as manufacturing and forestry, oil and gas, mining and fishing industries. Manufacturing industry reported a decline from 31.2% to 24.4 during the period 1999-2012 whereas forestry, oil and gas, mining and fishing sector reported a decline from 26.9% to 21.8% during the same period. This decline can be attributed to changes in the economic structure such as the increasing contingent labor force consisting of part-time, temporary and women employees, which poses significant hurdles with respect to the organization of unions.


Despite union and non-union workplaces sharing common characteristics, there are differences, some of which impact positively while others negatively. Both union and non-union workplaces share similarities on various aspects including being guided by the Canadian labor legislation, the need to be recognized as an agent for employee-employer negotiations, and the need to establish dispute resolution mechanisms. Despite these similarities, notable differences exist. For instance, employees in a union are likely to be more flexible than non-union workers in terms of rate and hours of work. The trade union pays well than the non-union sector. In addition, the aspect of dependence is common in the union than in the non-union where independence is an emerging trend. The two workplaces also differ as far as communication is concerned.

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Union versus Non-union Workplaces essay

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