The Pros and Cons of Labor Unions in the Hospitality Industry

The Pros and Cons of Labor Unions in the Hospitality Industry

            The recent news article published online by the Chicago Breaking News Center indicates that The International Home and Warehouse Show had been already in talks with other States for their relocation prospects. No straightforward reason was stated in the news; except that it hints that the “cost” of having to operate tradeshows maybe the factor to blame (Bergen n.p.). Still, it is possible that the role played by the Unions, or Labor Union organizing, may be partly to blame for the tradeshow’s decision to explore other sites for operation. The reason why Labor Unions can cause companies serious problems is diverse. But this could be primarily because the cost of operating a tradeshow is dependent on certain demands that are being made by employees or workers, especially when they become a significant force thru Labor Unions.

            The case of The International Home and Warehouse Show is just one example of the growing impact of Labor Unions in the hospitality industry. According to UNITEHERE – a Labor Union for Hospitality Workers, and a major force in the organization of laborers of the Hospitality Industry – the “hotel industry remains fundamentally profitable” despite the recent economic slowdown. And the fact that these businesses are moving to systematically reduce their workforce makes a case for Labor Unions to get their act together against some hotel industries (UNITEHERE 2). Here, it would be good to assess the pros and cons of Labor Unions, when applied particularly to the case of hospitality industry.

            The first advantage of joining Labor Union lies in its ability to protect workers. Mary Tanke (386) believes that historically, the United States has had a low union membership from among hospitality industry workers. But this does not mean that it remained low until recently. According to statistics, there has been a very high increase in the number of hospitality workers that opted to join a Labor Union. The reason for this lies in its very good benefits.  Tanke writes:

For many of our employees…unions can provide job security, increases in compensation, extension in benefit offerings, protection from arbitrary management decisions, reasonable workloads, and a process to grieve what they perceive are unjust practices” (Tanke 388).

Secondly, many workers in the hospitality industry join Labor Unions since they are more likely to be victims of labor malpractice in their field of work. Unlike corporations that employ persons with high academic degrees, the hospitality industry does not generally require the caliber of those in the business or management fields. Most of the workers of the hospitality industry are manual laborers – e.g., they fix beds, they clean room, they maintain lobbies, they serve food, they log reservations, among others. These jobs do not require high degrees or long professional training. That is why these workers are more susceptible to injustice.  UniteHere writes, for instance, that “hotels hotels have added more amenities and heavier linens to the rooms – increasing the workload, even as the number of workers doing it has fallen” (UNITEHERE p.2). Indeed, having a Labor Union to check these abuses can help workers perform their jobs in a just working environment.

However, there are disadvantages in having to deal with Labor Unions. One disadvantage lies in how companies can suffer financially – or even shut down – when they are unable to meet the demands of the organized workers.  When Labor Unions become too strong, they can demand so many things from the company; i.e., pay increase, reinstatement of removed workers, working hours, workloads. And sometimes, these demands can be too much for the companies to handle, and they either have to suffer massive deficit or completely shut down.

Secondly, there is also a disadvantage to the very employees themselves. According to Tanke, some Labor Unions are demanding complete membership from employees before they can obtain the job of their interest (Tanke 388). This means that, in order for someone to obtain the job that he or she wants, that someone has to join the Labor Union first before being hired. This is especially true for many hospitality industry workers. Labor Union memberships have become compulsory in obtaining a job in the hospitality industry. Accordingly, these workers have to pay certain dues to the Labor Union before they can acquire full membership. In principle therefore, they have to shell out some amount first before being hired.

To sum, it would be good to acknowledge that there are both good and not-so-good factors that must be considered before joining a Labor Union. On the one hand, Labor Unions can work for workers’ protection. They can provide security of tenure for workers, inasmuch as they can negotiate salary increases and bonuses. On the other hand, it can be taxing to the overall health of the company as well.

Which is why, if I were to be offered a job in the hotel or restaurant outfit, I would first study the benefits of joining a Labor Union. I would study the conditions thoroughly. If I would see that, in paying for the corresponding amount to join the Labor Union, I would be compensated greatly by its service, then I might get the job being offered. But if, in studying the matter closely, I see that the company and the Labor Union have had serious disputes in the past, I would, most likely, turn down the job. This is especially true if I would discover that such disputes may have affected the conditions of both the company and the workers in a bad way.

Works Cited

Bergen, Kathy, “Another trade show may bolt McCormick Place, ”20 January 2010. Web. 05    June 2010 <          bolt-mccormick-place.html>.

Tanke, Mary. Human Resources Management for the Hospitality Industry. Albany, NY: Delmar,           2001.

UNITEHERE. “Hotel Workers Rising”.  Web. 05 June 2010             <>.


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