Unionism can be described as "a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment"(Smelser). This means that a group of workers can unite to gain more power and leverage in bargaining. The bargaining may include many aspects but usually consists of wages, benefits, terms and conditions of employment. The notion of union came about in the 1700's. In the beginning as it is today workers united to "defend the autonomy and dignity of the craftsman against the growing power of the company" (Montgomery).
These early unions had many names including societies, social societies and guilds. These primitive unions or guilds of carpenters, cordwainers, and cobblers made their appearance, often temporary, in cities around the east coast of colonial America. These group of workers were a far cry from what unions are today. They mainly focused on friendship and trust between the workers and management. The first recorded form of a union was a group called the "Friendly Society of Cotton Spinners, who in 1775 instructed its members not to work below the usual price" (Smith).
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence "in the pursuit of happiness" through higher wages and shorter work hours, printers were the first to go on strike, in New York in 1794; carpenters in Philadelphia in 1797, and cordwainers in 1799.
In the 1800's the construction of cotton mills brought about a new phenomenon in American labor. The owners needed a new source of labor to tend these water powered machines and looked to women. Since these jobs didn't need strength or special skills th...
... middle of paper ...
...s became even more desperate at the time of the great depression that ultimately led to the great railway strike, in which many workers lost their lives at the hand of the Pennsylvania militia. This act proved to be a major turning point in the evolution of the labor movement in the United States.
It has been said that the union work is one struggle after another, but union work also is the most rewarding legacy we can leave our children.
Freeman, Joshua. Who Built America? New York: Pantheon Books, 1992.
Montgomery, David. The Fall of the House of Labor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Roediger, David R. & Foner, Phillip S. Our Own Time. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989.
Smelser, Neil. Social Change in the Industrial Revolution. London: Rutledge & Kegan, 1959.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- After the Civil War, many ideologies developed into the United States of America. Some of these ideologies included the free labor ideology and the producerist ideology. Free labor endorsed the belief that by removing slavery, or any other kind of barrier, everyone had an equal chance to try to get wealth (Farless). The producerist ideology tried to stay to the customary view of society and it stressed the importance of viewing the community instead of an individual (Farless). With these two ideologies, they had an impact on labor.... [tags: Labor Unions]
1247 words (3.6 pages)
- One could not begin to speak of the unspeakable regarding the notion of child labor, not only in the US, but the ugly truth about the practice through out the world, with out making reference to the practice of "employing" children in a historical perspective, i. e., since children have been around. The truth is it - the practice - of putting children to work has always been with us as a species, and most likely will be part of our human story for as long as we exist. However, here in the United States we would like to believe that as a "modern"nation, we can agree as a civilized society, that children have a place as not only gentle creatures of our very fabric, but ultimately also serve as... [tags: Child Labor]
2543 words (7.3 pages)
- “In September 1919, the very first labor unions went on strike, insisting they have better working condition by protesting with over 350,000 members of the work force” (Zinn 381). Labor unions have been in the United States of America since the early 19th century. Unions represented employees who rarely had the opportunity to negotiate better wages, more health benefits, and safer working conditions. Therefore, workers rebelled against employers, which affected society as a whole. Historically, labor unions evolved from social and economic impact throughout the Industrial Revolution, World War I, and World War II.... [tags: better wages, health benefits, safe work]
2055 words (5.9 pages)
- ... New technologies during this time, unemployed the only valuable, skilled workers by simplifying trades into many small parts that could easily be executed by unskilled workers. Management of major companies also contributed to the defeat of labor unions, for instance, most companies by forced the workers to disqualify themselves from joining labor unions by having them sign certain documents legally binding them to comply with the companies conditions. The disunity of the labor movement is one of the main reasons that they failed, this meant that having too many labor unions fighting for their own interests hurt the overall interests of the labor movement.... [tags: the Gilded Age, communism in the US]
521 words (1.5 pages)
- The History of the American Labor Union Beginning in the late 1700’s and growing rapidly even today, labor unions form the backbone for the American workforce and continue to fight for the common interests of workers around the country. As we look at the history of these unions, we see powerful individuals such as Terrence Powderly, Samuel Gompers, and Eugene Debs rise up as leaders in a newfound movement that protected the rights of the common worker and ensured better wages, more reasonable hours, and safer working conditions for those people (History).... [tags: principles of microeconomics]
2294 words (6.6 pages)
- Child labor has existed in almost every society throughout history, and although most nations have rid of this abusive practice, it still exists in many poor, third-world countries today. Child labor is the misuse and exploitation of children at work. Some children labor under harsh conditions, such as working long hours, receiving low to no wages, and being placed in unsafe environments. Today no society advocates child labor, however, it continues and according to the United Nations is a “growing evil” (Greene 9).... [tags: industrial revolution, lebanon]
1170 words (3.3 pages)
- Separation can develop from anywhere or anyone over periods of time since people’s needs, desires, and goals are very diverse. The variety of people with dissimilar interest can cause tensions among groups, especially in the modern age. There are three categories that contributed to the physical and abstract separation all within the realm of labor: workers versus machines, skilled versus unskilled labors or workers, and immigrant versus non-immigrant workers. These three all intertwine and connect to one another under the world of labor.... [tags: Labor History, Technological Revolution]
1376 words (3.9 pages)
- This brief history of more than 100 years of the modern trade union movement in the United States can only touch the high spots of activity and identify the principal trends of a "century of achievement." In such a condensation of history, episodes of importance and of great human drama must necessarily be discussed far too briefly, or in some cases relegated to a mere mention. What is clearly evident, however, is that the working people of America have had to unite in struggle to achieve the gains that they have accumulated during this century.... [tags: Labor Historical US Essays Workers]
9017 words (25.8 pages)
- History Of the Labor Movement in the United States This is a brief history of the labor movement in the United States from the late eighteen hundreds to the present. In 1881 a movement toward organized labor was beginning to be inforced. A group of people from a few trades and industries such as carpenters, cigar- makers, the printers, merchants, and the steel workers met and formed The Federation of Organized Trades And Labor Unions. Although it had little power, the organization was defanantly and the side as the workers.... [tags: Papers]
584 words (1.7 pages)
- 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).... [tags: Labor Movement Unionism History Essays]
4633 words (13.2 pages)