Essay on Labor Unions

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Labor Unions

Labor Unions: Aging Dinosaur or Sleeping Giant? 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 “1790 with the skilled craftsmen” (Dessler, 1997, p. 544). For the last two-hundred years, workers of all trades have been fighting for their rights and “seeking methods of improving their living standards, working conditions, and job security” (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. “A labor union
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57). In December 1886, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was formed in Columbus, Ohio. The AFL was originally named the Federated Organization of Trades and Labor Union back in 1881. The AFL was a “national union made up of affiliated, individual craft unions” (Boone, 1996, p. 288). The first president of the AFL was Samuel Gompers. On the contrary to the Knights of Labor, Gompers’ focus was to raise day-to-day wages, and continue to improve the working conditions (Dessler, 1997). After the formation of the AFL, the period included significant developments. In the early 1890’s, the United Mine Workers was formed, becoming the first major United States industrialized union (Robinson, 1985). In addition, a significant defeat occurred in organized labor. The defeat is known as the strike at Homestead, Pennsylvania. The “Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers was eliminated from the steel industry” (Robinson, 1985, p. 58). History from 1905 to 1920. In 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) challenged the AFL, prior to the depression of the 1930’s. The IWW invited the unskilled and semiskilled workers that the AFL had denied and was a success from 1910 to 1915 (Encyclopedia, 1996). The results of this had decreased the AFL membership for a short period of time, but they fought back by bringing

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