The term labor refers to one of the three major factors of production. In any economy, labor provided by the people determines whether an economy grows positively, negatively, or it becomes stagnant. Workers usually sell their labor to an employer who in turn pays them for it. Human labor in any organization or company utilizes skills and knowledge so as to increase productivity. Labor and politics are closely related, since they both revolve around issues that are of concern to the citizens such as education, workers welfare, health care, and retirement.
In order to address the welfare of the workers, labor unions currently exist in many nations all over the world. Labor unions are associations of the wage earners or workers which aim at improving or maintaining the employment conditions of the workers (Campbell and Stanley, p 13). In this paper, the role of labor in politics will be addressed. In addition, the question of whether labor unions should be involved in political campaigns and how they should be involved will be looked at. Discussion
The Role of Labor in Politics Labor plays a very vital role in politics. One way through which labor plays a role in politics is through the policies that relate to the welfare of the workers, that political parties and leaders adopt in their campaigns. Political parties strive to develop labor policies that address the needs of the workers fully. For instance, the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in June 1938 was as a result of the working together of the labor unions and Franklin Roosevelt government.
This is because, political parties and leaders acknowledge that only leaders who show concern for the workers, who identify strongly with the workers, and who advocate for fast and effective improvement of working conditions are likely to be elected into the government. The political leaders, who show great commitment and dedication in advocating for the minimum wage increase, protect social security, and address the workers health care needs receive political support from the workers.
On the other hand, political leaders and parties which show little or no commitment when it comes to addressing the workers concerns receive very minimal or no support from the workers. Labor influences the political ability of the leaders or parties to solve the existing workers’ problems. The ability of a political entity to solve the workers problems is a very vital factor in the political arena. Political parties must be able to demonstrate that they can solve the workers’ issues of concern so as to enjoy the peoples’ support.
For example, the issue of minimum wage has been an issue of concern for many US workers. About 15 million US workers have been estimated to be under the minimum wage, a situation that makes it difficult for the citizens to cater fully for their needs. This has made the battle over the minimum wage a political issue. Political leaders have a responsibility to balance between the interests of the workers and the employers. Consequently, the leaders are required to develop governing strategies that will cater for the workers welfare and the strategies become very important during the political campaigns.
It is the effectiveness of the strategies to address the needs of the workers that will determine the political support that a political leader or party enjoys from the workers/citizens (Carroll, p 8). Labor issues affect costs on the society, and this makes labor an issue of political relevance. Political leadership should be able to provide workers with an environment through which they can maximize their financial returns while cutting down on the costs. Political leaderships that fail to do this are considered to fail.
Poor working conditions for the workers may result to low investment in training and education, mental and physical deterioration due to poor medical care and inadequate nutrition, unemployment, poor job benefits, and poor public transportation. The need to address these problems makes it vital for political leaders to solve labor problems through their policies and governing structures. Labor unions endorsement of some political leaders has been very instrumental in the political circle.
For example, political leaders who receive endorsement from labor unions are likely to enjoy great support from the workers or union members. In most cases, labor unions endorse political leaders based on the leaders’ support for the workers welfare. For political leaders or parties that have defended the workers freedom and have advocated for their rights, they receive great support from the people. The people offer their support with the hope that the leaders will do more to improve the workers welfare.