Labor is one of the key players in politics of many countries. It is the most single organized, reliable and powerful coalition of political democratic segment in any country in the world. It is not essentially the largest; if individuals are good to labor, the people of labor show up on time, whenever they are required and on any issue that is needed, they tend to act as surrogates. Therefore, labor has got several roles that it plays on the politics of any given country. The role of labor may differ in different countries depending on constitutional facts which are emphasized in a country. Most of the political agenda have been manipulated by the labor unions objectives towards protection of its members. During any political campaigns, many political parties have been found to seek for political favor from the labor union members. This is because every working person in any country belongs to particular labor unions, which are further unified to form one central labor organization. By promising to do the interests of the labor unions, members a political party can gain popularity that may contribute to its victory in the long run. It is for this reason that labor union ideas have been incorporated into the political agendas.
Within a country, some of the unions play a more important role than the others. Some of the labor unions form a large base or they are established allover the country. Such kind of labor unions plays a significant role in politics.
Political parties have been found to fight among themselves in terms of which one should be preferred to serve the best interests of that labor union. Some political parties in the world have gone to an extent that they have used these union of workers so as to ensure that their popularity is everywhere all over the country (Breen, 1998, 123).
Considering the case where the workers have been serving or working under sweatshops, it forms an encouraging environment for the politicians to excel their political ideas since they will address what the workers need to hear. Despite that in many countries some of these political agendas are not fulfilled, the workers end up voting in that political party that has addressed their working problems properly. Not only are the fulfillment of workers interests by leaders of political parties played an important role in shaping the future of politics in those political parties, but also some political parties have involved the leaders of labor unions to the formulation and implementation of some of its political goals. This has formed a better opportunity for the establishment of a well founded political party since now it has a support of the majority. Most of the working groups in many countries have been found to be the youths, with their age ranging from 18 to 40 years. Such youths have also been found to go for a similar decision when it comes to political matters. Since those youths belong to labor unions of their respective job types, it gives a better opportunity to the political leaders who serves the interests of such youths. The political candidates may end up using little of their resources in campaigns since they have a large base of voters unlike the other parties which have got less influence to the youths of that particular country (Stabile, 1996, 140).
Unions have gone ahead and advanced support to their political party candidates of interest in terms of financial support. This is usually done to the political party that is headed by a candidate that the union members think him or her will give the right leadership towards protection of the union members. Not only do the unions advance such financial help to the leaders of the political parties but also to the state candidates, local candidates and the federal candidates. The unions have gone a step further in extending the relationship of their candidate of interest in any political campaign to their family members. In case an individual is running for state assembly, mayor of a town or town council particularly in an off year, a small number of people will turn up and help the running candidate with money. In such kind of races, the labor has got a lot of interests, for ideological and pragmatic reasons. The labor unions are not like the normal donors; they always give their financial support. This has an implication that they can be relied, one can make plans for them and can also have negotiation with them for a particular assistance (Howes, 2005, 56). Labor in this case plays an important role because it not possible to be politically stable without enough financial support. Another area where labor unions play a significant role to politics is during the elections on a rainy day. Labor unions unlike other citizens or people have been found to show up in such a circumstance. This is said to be a big deal to the candidate favored by the union members and not something that we may just think about it often. Where needed by the campaigns, unions show up in large numbers. This is a fact that labor unions play a vital role in politics since the campaigns require crowd and turn over that is very big.
Unions advocates for areas that are reliable for legislation and encourages issues that are progressive. Such issues include the economic equality, health care and workers safety. These are very important issues that ensure growth and prosperity of any country. Due to their strength and power in a democratic country, labor unions puts pressure and emphasis to ensure that such issues are incorporated in the political agenda for the benefits of the entire nation. Labor unions may also play other ancillary roles in politics. In them they have got a pool of talent from which candidates can be drawn from. They also provide space or union hall from which politicians can conduct their training and drawing of campaining strategies. Come-together parties can also be held in these union halls. The unions in this case play a significant role in that it is very hard for any party to organize for the anything without a public space. Therefore, unions will come in and solve such kind of a problem. In case where a politician wins the election as a result of support from union, strong friendly policies begin to exist between the government formed by the winning politician and the union. Issues such as education, health, consumer rights and safety of the workers, taxes and infrastructure are the main areas of agreement between the new established government under the support of the labor union and the labor union members (Merriam, 1999, 85).
Due to the above roles played by the labor unions and its contribution towards effecting of some important issues in the society, unions should be involved in political campaigns. The unions do fight for an egalitarian and socially sustainable and equitable society. It is true that this kind of society can only be found by the cohesion between the different workers in the society such as: the industrial workers, farmers, painters, service workers, small business owners among others. By doing that, the worker will have to create the society by themselves. Therefore, it is good for workers to come together and bind up so that they can have enough powers to determine their destiny. In every state, local committees and unions have been railroaded out. They have been made powerless in situations where they want to stop the loss of massive jobs. Unions are of importance in any political campaign in that they ensure security of the properties that belongs to the citizens of that particular country. Unions ensure that democracy prevails in the country when the labor unions are involved in political campaigns. Since labor unions fight for the democracy for the whole nation or state, the members of the unions in one way or the other find themselves in a better position since most of the union agenda under the priority must be involving the workers (Sil, 2001, 89). Many workers have experienced pathetic working environmental conditions that have contributed to several problems to them. These kinds of jobs done by these workers are referred to as sweatshops. For this reason, involvement of the unions in political campaigns is necessary since it ensures that the working conditions are improved. Not only does the worker experience poor working environment but also the poor paying terms. Asking for better terms of payment during the political campaigns offers a higher probability that their terms of payment will be made better. Thus for unions to be effectively involved in any political campaign, they should ensure that they are not biased to any candidate based on personal interests. If this is not the case, it implies that the prevailing democracy is being misused and can lead to the election of a poor leader who may not deliver some of the important issues affecting the whole community. The union should ensure that those leaders they have delegated to handle the responsibilities and obligations in relation to the labor union agenda and the political campaign have integrity that is beyond self reproach (Bloom, 1993, 122).
Despite what the labor unions have done to the society as a whole in process of involving itself in political campaigns, some arguments have been laid down to oppose the act of labor involvement in political campaigns. It has been said that, if labor unions involve themselves in political campaigns, it will tend to destroy the democratic power of a country. Issues such as corruption in a country will tend to rise. This will be the case because those leaders with a lot of money will tend to give money to the leaders of the unions so that they can mobilize the other members of the union to elect them as the best leaders. Such kind of leaders may lack the leadership skills, and thus may lead to poor economic, political and social growth of that nation (Ansell, 2001, 70).
Ansell Christopher. Schism and solidarity in Social Movements: The Politics of Labor in the French Third Republican. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp. 70
Bloom Gordon. Government and Labor: The Role of Government in Union-Management Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 122
Breen William. Labor Market Politics and the Great War: The Department of Labor, the States, and the First U.S. New York: Greenwood, 1998, pp. 123
Howes Michael. Politics and the Environment: Risk and the Role of Government and Industry. London: Macmillan, 2005, pp. 56
Merriam Charles. The Role of Politics in Social Change. New York: New York University Press, 1999, pp. 85
Sil Rudra. The Politics of Labor in a Global Age: Continuity and Change in Late-Industrializing and Post-Socialist Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 89
Stabile Donald. Work and Welfare: The Social Cost of Labor in the History of Economic Thought. New York: Greenwood Press, 1996, pp. 140