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Labor Unions in the United States

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Essay title: Labor Unions in the United States

Labor Unions in the United States

Organized labor affects the lives of many citizens everyday, often in a roundabout way. Labor Unions affect many different people from blue-collar workers to white-collar workers, stay-at-home moms, students, and retirees. Fewer; however realize the legal role Labor Unions have played and continue to play in the financial system, political affairs, and society in general. In today's society, more of our skilled hourly and unskilled workers belong to some sort of Labor Union and that is a good sign that Unions will not face extinction. As long as there is a need for higher wages, there will be a need for Unions.

Labor Unions are organizations of wage earners or salary workers established for protecting their shared interests when dealing with employers. "In the United States, Unions represented about one-third of all workers in the 1960s" (Hellweg, 2005 October). Today, Unions represent only about 13% of the total labor force. Although weakened in many areas, Labor Unions continue to be an important force in many aspects of the economy.

Most Unionized workers in the United States belong to Industrial Unions. An Industrial Union represents workers across a wide range of occupations within one or more industries. A good example of a typical Industrial Union is the United Auto Workers, also known as the UAW. The UAW represents skilled craft workers, assembly line workers, and unskilled workers in some of the major American automobile companies. Such as General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The UAW negotiates separate contracts for workers in each of these companies. Although most Industrial Unions began by organizing workers in a single industry or group of related industries, most have diversified over the past 30 to 40 years. For example, the UAW represents workers in the tractor and earth-moving equipment industry, like Caterpillar and John Deere, and in the aerospace industry such as the Boeing Corporation.

Some of the first Labor Unions represented carpenters, cabinetmakers, and cobblers. Many employees played a major part in the fight for freedom. At the Boston Tea Party, carpenters showed the first sign that people knew they could stand together and achieve more then they could alone. The printers in New York were the first organization to go on strike in 1794. The printers wanted shorter working days and better pay which was the cause for the strike. After that, many companies followed suit.

In the 1800's efforts by Labor Unions were made to improve work conditions, by either negotiation or strike action. There were Unions involved in the effort to make the workday 10 hours instead of 12 hours. These Unions began to demonstrate significance in the idea of a federation and joining in the chase of universal laws for workers. These efforts reflected the need for financial and lawful protection from employers. The factory system was the cause for a growing share of American production. The factory system also created much prosperity for some and weakening poverty for others.

Employees started to recognize the control of their employers in the middle of 1800. This caused the Labor Union memberships to grow steadily. In many places, Labor Unions, in a variety of trades, united to create a group called the Nation Labor Union. The Nation Labor Union ultimately swayed Congress to make an eight-hour workday.

Samuel Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor, also known as the AFL, in 1886. Gompers started in the cigar business and established much of his learning as an employee who read books and magazine articles to other employees to help sever the repetitiveness of their work in the factory. He became a director of his local union and of the National Cigar Makers Union. The founders of the AFL expressed their certainty in the need for a more organized Union. The AFL agreed to defend the skillful workers of America from exploiting employers and to maintain the standards of American skill. This was how the Labor Union in America was started. As a result, the AFL was a Labor Union that only represented skilled workers John L. Lewis announced

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