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Labour Unions
updated by rck, 2005-01-20

Here's a summary for the Business English 1 lectures I've been attending this term. Today is the end-test, so it's a bit late. Then again, we did that topic last week so it's not as late as it might seem.

Benefits for workers?

Labour unions have been made from workers for workers. So there must be some benefits for them. Why would they build them otherwise?

If you work somewhere you mostly do that because of the money. So naturally, a lot of labour union effort goes into getting better wages and fringe benefits.

Fringe Benefits

a lamp with some pink stuff on it
pink fringe

So what's a fringe? Have a look on the picture. The pink stuff there is called fringe. Some women have their hair “fringed”.

But that's not what I am writing about here. A fringe group is some kind of minority, if I am not mistaken. And a fringe benefit is a kind of “sidedish”. Some kind of additional benefit that makes your job a pleasure.

One such fringe benefit would be supplement unemployment benefit. If your company fires you, you'll get money anyways. While the Austrian government takes care of that for Austrians, that's not the case in US. This benefit is very common.

Other benefits include higher wages for overtime work, insurance programs, pensions and income-maintenance plans. The nice thing about fringe benefits is, that they are tax-free. In some industries, like in steel and auto manufacturing, fringe benefits are 40 percent of the total cost of compensation!

Unions gradually extended the list of benefits before the mid-1980s.


Another important concept is seniority. The older you get, the lower the possibility you get layed off. People with job rights seniority have a first choice of higher-paying jobs, preferred shift, etc.

So, if you can stay in a company long enough, you have endless possibilities. Your qualification, your amount of work matters less by the day.

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