Prof. Robert High
March 15, 2009
Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining Agreements
I. History of the American Labor Movement
a. Labor and Employee Laws
b. The Union
II. Labor Relation Process
c. Public-Sector Labor Relations
III. What is Collective Bargaining?
d. The Collective Bargaining Process
e. How Collective Bargaining impacts Employees, Employers and Society IV. Union Movement Today
Labor Movement and Collective Bargaining Agreements
Unionization of the American system, as it exists today, originated in the 1880s, but its legal framework was not shaped until the 1930s. However; the labor movement went back to the slave-labor system of which was a major obstacle to the formation of a labor movement in the South and in the nation as a whole. The populations that were not free but represented a large portion of the country’s workers stopped taking part in the emergence of a labor movement initiated by free labor in the North. It was impossible for slaves, who did not have any rights of any kind to share in the equal rights artisanal traditions of white northern workers, their main focus was freedom (Beik, 2005).
The labor movement also went back to Colonial America when the British colonies in North America were, for the most part, extractive economies dependent on agriculture, fishing, harvesting of timber, mining, hunting, and other related occupations of that era that tapped in on the abundant resources of the New World. With these resources the colonies grew and were nurtured by a government whose economic policy emphasized the security and prosperity of the country. The colonial economy began to employ skilled and unskilled laborers in small-scale manufacturing and handicraft employment, from building houses and barns to constructing ships to carry raw materials, and provided other goods and services that were necessary in day to day living. Mainly, laborers and indentured servant provided these services for free for a number of years in exchange for passage to the New World. By law the government set a period of no more than seven years and because of this the indentured servants and their descendants eventually entered the free labor market (Ballot, 1992).
Eventually, the colonies began to grow and develop into flourishing businesses, with this came more diverse and specialized economies that became abundantly prosperous because of the trade with England. This growth began a new era, the increasing size of the population of which created diversity and local businesses such as the markets grew large enough to support workshops owned and operated by the craftspeople and merchants in some cases were able to hire skilled craftspeople to supervise the journeymen and apprentices. With the increasing demand of craft workers and other skilled workers, this era was named, “the great age of the colonial craftsman” (Ballot, 1992).
Colonial labor conditions in North America for the highly skilled and unskilled nomadic worker found this New World an improvement over the Old World. Due to insufficient labor pools, treatment of workers was generally better and the wages were higher. However; the work was hard and very demanding in addition, mistreatment by masters and other employers occurred which lead to frequent strikes, slowdowns, conspiracies to desert, and free laborers abruptly quitting their jobs. Eventually, the colonies followed similar labor policies of the English laws and practices as developed in the Tudor Industrial Code. These laws regulated labor conduct,...