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Ecolabu Essay Research Paper Trade UnionTrade unions

Ecolabu Essay, Research Paper

Trade UnionTrade unions can be defined as: the various labor organizations in the UnitedStates, each of which serves to consolidate, represent, and protect the rights of workers ina specific occupation or trade. They can be dated back to as early as the twelfth centurywhen craft guilds were formed. These craft guilds only included in their membershipthose who practiced a particular craft, so there were many guilds at this time. Laborunions stayed this way for the next few centuries, until the Civil War in the United Statesbrought attention to workers and their families. Towards the latter part of the eighteenthcentury, unions of carpenters and shoemakers began forming in Philadelphia, whiletailors in Baltimore, Maryland and printers in New York City also started unions. Themain actions of these unions were to band the workers together to get a strike started andthen they were almost immediately dissolved. These strikes were few because the strikeleaders were often imprisoned and fined on charges of “conspiracy to raise wages.” The first union in the United States to include members of different trades was theMechanics’ Union of Trade Associations, which was started in 1827. This organization’smain emphasis was to raise wages and improve working conditions, this union alsochampioned social reforms, such as free public education, eradication of imprisonmentfor debt, and the adoption of universal manhood suffrage. The National Trade Union,which was founded in 1834, was the first nationwide federation. Despite wide attempts toally over the next few years, the economic crisis of 1837 and a depression followingunfortunately halted the membership, and led to a sharp decline in the organization’scurrent membership, which finally suspended the movement temporarily. Trade unions began to grow in membership after businesses began a revival in thelate 1840’s and early 1850’s. A Massachusetts court also helped with union membershipwhen it made a landmark decision that stated that labor unions had the right to strikebecause strikes were lawful and not criminal conspiracies (Commonwealth v. Hunt,1842). This lead to a nationwide growth in trade unions. Unlike the first growth thissecond growth concentrated on making many unions consisting of workers of only onetrade. The continued growth of the unions was subsequently stopped in 1857 because ofanother economic crisis that dissolved the base of many of the new trade unions. In 1881, numerous trade unions combined to form the Federation of OrganizedTrades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada. This union was short lived,

and by 1886 it was in decline. By December of 1886 though, members of affiliates fromthis union and another prominent union on the decline met in Columbus, Ohio to start anew trade union that would meet the needs of the American worker like no other uniondid to that date. Their solution was the American Federation of Labor (AFL). It electedSamuel Gompers, who was president of the Cigarmakers International Union and theFederation of Oraganized Trades and Labor Unions, as its first president. Themembership was estimated at about 316,000 workers grouped in twenty-five nationalunions. Although the AFL was a broad group of individuals, it allowed it’s differentunions to deal with the workers and the employers in their own field. Instead ofcampaigning for sweeping reforms like many unions did before them, the AFL wanted theunalienable rights and attainable goals of higher wages and shorter working hours for allemployees. It also cut all ties with any political organization for the purpose of voting forcandidates who were considered to be friendly to labor, regardless of their partyaffiliation, and vote against those regarded as hostile to the labor movement. During the1890’s, some of the AFL unions such as the printers and the building trade workersacheived their long sought goal of an eight-hour day. By 1935 some of the union leaders within the AFL wanted a revision of craftunion principles to assist organization of workers in the mass production industries. Withthe support of eight of the leaders of the AFL unions the president of the United MineWorkers of America, John L. Lewis, the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO)was begun to help the unionization campaign in the mass production industries. Subsequently, the CIO unions were suspended from the AFL in August 1936 and finallyexpelled in May 1938. Then, a few months later the CIO changed its initials to mean theCongress of Industrial Organizations in order to become a permanent fixture in Americanlabor union history. After a twenty year hiatus, the AFL and the CIO joined forces so thatthey could combat the new problems facing labor unions in the 1950’s. The mainproblems faced by the AFL-CIO was the elimination of racketeers from trade unions. Then, in 1967 Walter Reuther, president of the United Automobile Workers, resigned asvice-president of the AFL-CIO, declaring that it was “the comfortable, complacentcustodian of the status quo.” Then the UAW stopped paying its dues and was kicked outof the AFL-CIO. debt, and the adoption of universal manhood suffrage. The National Trade Union,which was founded in 1834, was the first n to a nationwide growth in trade unions. Unlike the first growth thissecond growth concentrated on making many un


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