Labor Unions Essay

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Labor Unions Throughout American history, labor unions have served to facilitate mediation between workers and employers. Workers seek to negotiate with employers for more control over their labor and its fruits. “A labor union can best be defined as an organization that exists for the purpose of representing its members to their employers regarding wages and terms and conditions of employment” (Hunter). Labor unions’ principal objectives are to increase wages, shorten work days, achieve greater benefits, and improve working conditions. Despite these goals, the early years of union formation were characterized by difficulties (Hunter). The beginnings of labor unions travel as far back as the colonial era when craft workers…show more content…
To help bring about congressional change, the National Labor Union was created in 1866 “to pressure Congress to make labor law reforms” (Library of Congress). It was composed of “national associations of unions” with “trade-printers, machinists, stone cutters” and others (American Federationist). But the National Labor Union did not remain long in existence and was forced to terminate in 1873 due to an economic depression. Depressions often prolonged the goals of labor unions because the desperation for work due to high unemployment rates rendered strikes ineffective. The National Labor Union was not without some success however. It “heightened public awareness of labor issues and increased public support for labor reform in the 1870s and 1880s” (Library of Congress). Followed directly on the heels of the National Labor Union was the Knights of Labor, founded in 1869, and the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in 1881. The Knights was an “all-embracing organization” whose membership included the “skilled or unskilled, black or white, male or female” (Miller). But inclusion of unskilled

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