Organized Labor – Definition

Cite this article as:"Organized Labor – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated December 2, 2019, last accessed October 20, 2020,


Organized Labor Definition

Organized labor refers to an association of workers coming together as a legal and recognized entity in a particular industry or sector. Organized labor is otherwise referred to as a ‘Union’ or a ‘Trade union.’ Organized labors are formed as associations representing the common interest of workers in a particular industry, this association negotiates better terms and conditions with employers in the industry for the benefits of the workers. Organized labor is legally recognized and can fight for the rights of its members in an organized way. Workers can join organized labor through their membership in unions.

A Little More on What is Organized Labor

Organized labor is of two types, these are horizontal union and vertical union (organized labor). While the former consist of workers with a common skill, the latter comprises workers from the same industry which might possess various skills. Organized labor or trade unions can be found in many countries, these groups fight for the collective rights of their members and strive to negotiate to improve economic value for them.

Just like many other states, organized labor is regulated by the government of the United States, these unions cannot be formed without the regulation of the government. In the U.S, trade unions are regulated by the National Labor Relations Board.

Changes Organized Labor Brought to the Workplace

Unions comprise of employees in the same sector or industry with common goals, representatives of the organized labor negotiate with employers on behalf of other members. organized labor play significant roles in different organizations and have brought notable changes to the workplace. Before the emergence of organized labor in many countries, workers are left vulnerable to employers who prey on the absence of strict regulations to deprive the employees of their benefits.

As part of the changes brought to the workplace by organized labors are improved working standards for employees, acceptable working hours and conditions, appropriate compensation scheme, insurance plans, health benefits, and other employee plans and benefits.

Despite the importance of organized labor to employees, there are certain criticisms and arguments against their roles, especially by employers. Some strong arguments against organized labors are;

  • The demands of organized labors are sometimes overbearing and mount pressures on employers.
  • They create additional costs for companies that strive to meet their demands.
  • Unions demand expensive insurance and health coverage for their members.
  • They demand higher wages which are sometimes exorbitant and do not align with the level of work offered by the employees.

References for “Organized Labor”

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