The Labor Movement and Unionism Background and Brief History
Higher wages! Shorter workdays! Better working conditions! These famous words echoed throughout the United States beginning in ô1790 with the skilled craftsmenö (Dessler, 1997, p. 544). For the last two-hundred years, workers of all trades have been fighting for their rights and ôseeking methods of improving their living standards, working conditions, and job securityö (Boone, 1996,p.287). As time went by, these individuals came to the conclusion that if they work together collectively, they would grow stronger to get responses to their demands. This inspired into what we know today as labor unions. ôA labor union is an organized group of workers whose purpose is to increase wages and influence other job conditions for its membersö (Parkin, 1998,p.344).
These labor unions can be divided into two types: craft unions and industrial unions (World, 1998). A craft union is ôa union whose membership is restricted to workers who possess an identifiable skillö (Robinson, 1985,p. 69). These members tend to be better educated and trained, and more unified because of common interests (World, 1998). An example of a craft union is the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (World, 1998). On the other hand, an industrialized union ôis a group of workers who have a variety of skills and job types but work for the same industryö (Parkin, 1998, p. 344). Unions of this type include the United Steelworkers, United Auto Workers, and the United Transportation Union (Boone, 1996).
History from the 1870Æs to 1900Æs. The first national union founded in Philadelphia in 1869 in the pre-Civil War period was the Knights of Labor, which ôintended to include all workersö (Encyclopedia, 1996, p. 630). For a decade, this organization grew at a slow pace due to operating in secrecy until the failure of railroad strikes that increased membership to... [continues]
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