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Over the past centuries, constant change has characterized trade and labour unions. These changes range from union membership to terms and conditions for membership. Trade or labour unions are responsible for ensuring that workers work in an environment that does not put them at risk.

This paper explores the evolution of union membership over the past century. It evaluates ho unions have modified their philosophy to accommodate the shifting trend. The paper will also explore two propositions for reforms that unions must undertake to broaden the appeal to a work place environment.


A union is a group comprised of employees with common interests and objectives. The origin of unions can be traced back to the 1970s starting with craft unions. They commenced to help shield employees from harassment by employers. Trade unions also protect the rights and interests of the employees and help resolve disputes that involve employers and employees. They help negotiate labor contracts, worker complaints and seeking relevant options and solutions. Unions carry out bargains with the employer on behalf of the employee. They help bargain wages, working rules and conditions, hiring and firing procedure, benefits and worker safety among other issues (Greenwood, Holt & Thomas, 2010).

Initially unions comprised of members in the blue-collar jobs alone. With time, unions will accommodate almost all kinds of workers. Today, unions comprise of women, and more educated workers. Data indicates that unionized labour has shifted from manufacturing towards services. For instance in the united states of America, in the middle of the last century, labour unions accommodated about a third of all united states American workers. From then, the labour unions have undergone significant changes characterized by shrinking membership (Ness, 2005).

In 1983, employed wage and salary workers made 20.1% of union membership rate. However, in 2008, it had dropped to about twelve percent. There is a shift from union manufacturing to unionized services. For instance, in 2008 one out of ten unionized workers worked in a manufacturing industry. Five in ten union employees worked in the public sector and the remaining four work in the private sector. As of now, unions cover teachers, police officers, fire fighters among many more professionals. Research has proved that nowadays, educational professionals, training professionals and library professionals make up a vast number of the unionized professionals.

Union groups nowadays accommodate more women compared to a hundred years back. Estimates show that women could make the biggest number of unionized workers by the year 2020. Unionization has changed not only in professionalism but also gender, ethnicity, race, religion and education qualifications.

These changes can be attributed to change in time and the advantages that the unions offer. Trade unions also changed their philosophy to accommodate more types of professions to increase its net capacity. Therefore, people look at trade unions as a security in terms of obtaining advantage when they face lay offs, denial of benefits, injuries and work policies. People feel more secure to work in unions (Katz, Hurd & New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 2001).

Unions should consider accommodating casual workers because they require relatively same working conditions with their permanent counterparts. Secondly, unions should arrange meetings and forums for people know the importance of working with union memberships. The forums must be educative in nature and a place where workers can raise their questions and problems. The unions must be closer to workers and not vice versa.


Labour unions are essential to workers. Therefore, they should always work towards the betterment of the services workers get when in the job environment.  Unions have come a long way from manufacturing to accommodate other kinds of professions. Therefore, workers must embrace the idea of working under unions.

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