Models of Union Participation: A Summary of Literature.

AuthorMaini, Rashmi


Union participation is defined in different ways by several authors. According to Metochi (2002), "Union participation refers to involvement in collective actions". It is the involvement in union related activities that are closely connected with the effective functioning of the union (Mcshane, 1986). "Union participation activities are classified as either formal activities (attending meetings, voting in election, filing a grievance and serving as an officer) or informal activities (sharing union related issues with friends, readings journals)" (Fullagar & Barling, 1991). Both formal and informal activities contribute to union participation (Fullagar et al., 1995). Participation is nothing but involvement in union related activities which enhances the effectiveness of union (Bolton et al., 2007; Gani, 1996). Heshizer and Lund (1997) explained informal activities as those which requires minimal role expectations. According to Sverke & Kuruvilla (1995), "union participation is involvement in all the activities that are related to union functioning / work".

Union density is declining continuously in the developing countries in general and in India in particular, the question of why some people are members of trade unions and some are not, has attracted considerable attention in the past years. Different people join trade unions for different reasons. Waddington (1977) pointed out the two main categories for joining trade unions as "individual benefits" and "collective reasons". Collective reasons comprise mutual support, improved pay, healthy working conditions, peer group pressure and belief in unionization. Individual benefits include training and education, industrial benefits and professional services. As trade unions are known for protecting the interest of workers, individuals join unions in order to fulfill their demands and fight for their rights (Bolton et al., 2007). Trade unions are known as advocates of human rights, individuals join unions in order to get benefits in the form of good working conditions, equal remuneration and health and safety (Parkes & Razavi, 2004).

"Union related activities are also clubbed in to two categories, active and passive. Active participation is related with more difficult and formal part of union linked work whereas passive is more of informal or which requires minimal role expectations like reading journals and discussing issues with friends." (Sharma, 1987).

"Union participation is also defined in terms of behavioral involvement of union members in collective action (Tannenbaum, 1965, Tannenbaum & Kahn, 1958). Union participation reflects on the membership and member's needs to influence decision in the union (Glick et al., 1977)." Behavioral studies...

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