Working in US Before Unions

Posted by lawscribe on March 9, 2012 in employment law, labor law, law |

corporate vs familyWorkers in the US have many things to thank the unions for, weekends for one and all the paid benefits for another. Of course this came with the main goal of the movement which was to improve working conditions, safety in the workplace for adults and an end to child labor.

The beginning of the labor movement can be seen as early in the formation of the country in 1768 when tradesmen in New York protested reduction in wages and started the Society of Shoemakers in Philadelphia in 1794. This was the first recorded sustained organization for trades among American workers. From then other unions were formed to defend their work against lower prices, which led to the creation of the first national association, a typographical printing union in 1852. During this time the industrial factory system was growing and the unions focused on skilled worker movement.

Through reform and transformation over the next decades, the labor movement came to a halt at The Great Depression. The total disenchantment of the industrial workers from the unions, and with the new legislation of the New Deal broke major unions apart. While the current unions were stopped, some broke way to form new, like John Lewis of the Mine Workers in 1935 left to created the CIO. By the end of the second World War millions of American workers belonged to unions that concentrated on collective bargaining legislation.

The previous dismantling of this country’s collective bargaining legislation brings the further decline in living standards of American wage-earning families set in for the first time since the Great Depression. The union movement in the 1980s became a diminished economic and political force, and now we are back to the beginning.


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