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Responsive Unions Help Make Work Feel More Meaningful

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Union members, activists, and their supporters march through Los Angeles during their annual May Day procession in support of workers’ rights and immigrant freedom on May 1st, 2019.

For many of us, meaningful work is an essential component of a fulfilling life. But what, exactly, gives meaning to one’s work?

A sense of vocation—an intuition that you were born to do this—can often do the trick. But what if you’re not lucky enough to find a “calling”? What else can make you feel fulfilled at your job?

New research provides an unexpected answer: a smart, sympathetic labor union.

“We found that when employees perceive their union to be responsive and caring, work meaningfulness was enhanced,” writes a research team led by M. Teresa Cardador of the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign. The right kind of union “helped fulfill workers’ psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness,” the team found.

Their study, published in the Labor Studies Journal, featured 109 members of a public-sector labor union in a large metropolitan area in the Midwest. Paper-and-pencil surveys were distributed during breaks at two union meetings. The workers, 72 percent of whom were male, came from 20 different city, county, and state agencies, ranging from the Department of Water to the Circuit Court.



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Thanks !

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