Open shop

From ArticleWorld

An open shop in the U.S.A. is defined as a place of work where one is not required to join a labor union to be hired or to continue being employed there. Closed shops, by contrast, require employees to join unions. Union shops require contributions to the union but do not discriminate should membership lapse due to the non-payment of union dues. Canada also employs this term, however it allows the right to opt out of joining the union.


Open shops were created in the twentieth century in an attempt to disband unions, especially in the construction industry. Several unions including the construction unions now require that employers only hire union members in an attempt to maintain such achievements as the eight-hour workday restrictions. Open shops were also used in the 1920's to try to reverse the milestones accomplished for employees by unions. They were used to discriminate against union members and oppose collective bargaining.

Legal status

In the United States there are now laws in place that make open shops in their extreme form illegal. This extreme form often discriminates against unionized workers by refusing them employment. This is still a problem in the construction industry because there are many employers who do not hire unionized workers. This has led to a battle between unionized workers and these employers, as legal action may now be taken if discrimination occurs. The milder form of the open shop allows the employer the option to employ both unionized and non-unionized persons; they are not compelled to hire only unionized members.

Non-unionized employers in the construction industry have dubbed themselves 'merit shops', which is the extreme form of the open shop. These employers have tried to build their own pool of non-unionized individuals. In states where right-to-work laws are in place open shops are legal.