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The History Of Labor Unions In The United States

2421 words - 10 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.
The author of Sweat and Blood, A History of U.S. Labor Unions, stated that in the 1700s, members of the first continental congress used the phrase “union” to unite thirteen states into one American nation. The phrase union meant an association of tens of millions of American men and women who fought together for safe working conditions. For instance, in the year 1619, Polish’s refusal to work because of the denial to vote became the first documented labor strike in America that succeeded (Skurzynski 9). Labor Unions soon became a nuisance to big business employers in the 18th century because of the constant threat they became to employers. Especially because the accumulating number of Unionist in the United States has become empowering over employers.
Most union laborers came from other countries to the United States as indentured servants or slaves. Individuals, who soon became tired of low pay, lack of benefits and unsafe working environments. There are many types of union organizations, for instance business unions; focus their attention on protecting workers economic welfare by collective bargaining. Arrangements between unions are entitled by the United States to agree on employee working conditions, wages, and hours. Unions also have a political involvement since American unions are classified as business rather than political unions. One of the first Unions in the United States was the United Automobile Workers (UAW) also known as craft Unions. Their job was to represent assembly-line workers, unskilled workers and craft workers in all the major American automobile companies (Labor Unions 662-666).
Since the onset of a severe financial crisis the year before, the nation had entered the most precipitous economic depression in its history. labor men everywhere were in despair, farm income had drying up; the Union Pacific and Erie Railways were in arrears; banks had closed, as many as four hundred in the west and south. While no official numbers of unemployed were kept, it was estimated there were as many as 200,000 without work in New York, 100,000 in Chicago; in Philadelphia, 62,500.... Families slept in public parks, parents improvising each morning a way to find food and milk for their children, while less fortunate urchins scrounged in the streets. Husbands left home in search of work, some never to be heard from again,...

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