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Highlights Of The Labor Movement Essay

930 words - 4 pages

This essay details the history of the labor movement from the late 1800s to the present.During a meeting of national unions (1886) the American Federation of Labor was created. The cause, differences in opinions regarding the mixing of skilled and unskilled workers. The federation was formed by about 150000 workers. Unions maintained control over their workers while sending complaints and disputes to the AFL to be resolved. The AFL maintained a skilled worker orientation. They concentrated on winning gains by entering into collective agreements with employers. Their goal was to balance the work place through contracts. In it's first years, the AFL was headed up by Samuel Gompers. Previous bad experiences in labor let Gompers to keep a keen eye on the workers he represented and in my opinion, assisted him in making better labor decisions for these people. Gompers is mainly responsible for the business orientation of the US unions. He accepted the economic system that existed and worked within it to accomplish his goals and lay the foundation for the American Trade Movement.In 1914 the Clayton Act was passed . It was viewed as an "Industrial Magna Carta" allowing workers to experience individual freedom. In 1917 AFL unions made solid gains near the end of the IWW. In order to reduce the number of strikes, the National War Labor Board was formed in 1918. This board consisted of 5 representatives hailing from labor and management fields of career practice along with a few others to represent the public interest.During the 1920s, there was a reduced demand for jobs due to the tapering immigration among unskilled workers. During this time the American Plan was introduced. Employers made good use of 'open shop' work places in order to discourage employees from joining unions. Freedom to join was not encouraged by yellow dog contracts. A yellow dog contract is a contract between the employee and the employer stating from the employee that they understand that joining a union is grounds for dismissal from their job. This clearly restricted rights of workers. During this time employers reinforced the local control and concern idea and improved wages along with working conditions. The end of the 1920s marked the end of the Gompers era which had spanned almost 50 years.The 1930s mark an era of attempts to organize industrial unions. Many of these attempts failed or were unsuccessful. By the mid 30s The Great Depression was in full swing and had caused many employment problems. This created more favorable industrial organizing. Elected officials became more tolerant of union activities. The leadership of John L. Lewis and other officials of the United Mine Workers (UMW) prompted more industrial organizing. In 1935 Lewis and "Big Bill" Hutchenson, President of the carpenter's Union engaged in an argument and later began physically fighting over issues and differences of...

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