Labor refers basically to any kind of work that one does essentially to earn a living. It is in most cases work for pay, meaning that one expects compensation of some kind for the work they do. Labor is also defined as the group or class of people who work for others performing particular tasks in an organization. Labor is one of the four main factors of production, the other three being land, entrepreneurship and capital. It is an indispensable part of the production chain that drives the economy of the world. It involves relations between workers or employees on the one hand and employers on the other.
The saying refers to the likelihood that where there are disputes, the less powerful portions and entities in society are most likely to suffer the consequences. In labor relations, the powerful entities symbolized by elephants would be the economically powerful employers and their employees being lower on the “food chain” would be the grass that suffers (Conaghan & Rittich 2005). It could also refer to situations where there is collusion between unions and employers, both being more powerful than the employee, and at the expense of employees.
There have been instances where the unions that should ideally protect workers rights at all costs have been corrupted by economically powerful employers thereby giving workers a raw deal. In the U. S. like in most jurisdictions, labor and employment are assumed to be voluntary. They are based on the At Will Employment Doctrine that assumes that employees provide labor for their employers voluntarily with the option to discontinue their service without liability as well as the option to begin their work voluntarily as well.
There are three main ways in which the employee can be protected from being ‘trampled’ upon by employers. These are Membership in Trade/Labor Unions, Industrial action (Job action in the U. S. ) and through Consultative decision making in organizations and by employers. (Cihon & Castagnera 2001) Trade or Labor unions are organizations formed when workers come together in order to pursue common goals and to advocate for better working conditions such as better pay, cleaner work places and better working hours.
These range from special unions that target a certain class of workers or workers in a specific field of work to umbrella organizations that bring together smaller unions. Trade unions carry out several important undertakings in pursuit of their members’ common good and welfare. These include negotiations of wages, working conditions and terms of employment for their members, organization of industrial action among members, collective bargaining and also endorsement of political candidates and parties sympathetic to their cause.