Trade union
Overview
 
A trade union, trades union (British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

) or labor union (American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

) is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labour contracts
Labour and employment law
Labour law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees...

 (collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

) with employers. This may include the negotiation of wage
Wage
A wage is a compensation, usually financial, received by workers in exchange for their labor.Compensation in terms of wages is given to workers and compensation in terms of salary is given to employees...

s, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety
Workplace safety
Workplace safety & health is a category of management responsibility in places of employment.To ensure the safety and health of workers, managers establish a focus on safety that can include elements such as:* management leadership and commitment...

 and policies.
Timeline

1648    Boston Shoemakers form first U.S. labor organization.

1834    US President Andrew Jackson orders first use of federal soldiers to suppress a labor dispute.

1834    Six farm labourers from Tolpuddle, Dorset, England are sentenced to be transported to Australia for forming a trade union.

1872    Trade unions are legalised in Canada.

1892    The New Orleans general strike begins, uniting black and white American trade unionists in a successful four-day general strike action for the first time.

1925    The All-China Federation of Trade Unions is officially founded. Today it is the largest trade union in the world, with 134 million members.

1926    UK General Strike 1926: In the United Kingdom, a nine-day general strike by trade unions ends.

1931    Ådalen shootings: five people are killed in Ådalen, Sweden, as soldiers open fire on an unarmed trade union demonstration.

1933    ''Gleichschaltung'': Adolf Hitler bans trade unions.

1936    The Steel Workers Organizing Committee, a trade union, is founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Philip Murray is elected its first president.

Encyclopedia
A trade union, trades union (British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

) or labor union (American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

) is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labour contracts
Labour and employment law
Labour law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees...

 (collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

) with employers. This may include the negotiation of wage
Wage
A wage is a compensation, usually financial, received by workers in exchange for their labor.Compensation in terms of wages is given to workers and compensation in terms of salary is given to employees...

s, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety
Workplace safety
Workplace safety & health is a category of management responsibility in places of employment.To ensure the safety and health of workers, managers establish a focus on safety that can include elements such as:* management leadership and commitment...

 and policies. The agreements negotiated by the union leaders are binding on the rank and file members and the employer and in some cases on other non-member workers.

Originating in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, when the lack of skill necessary to perform most jobs shifted employment bargaining power
Bargaining power
Bargaining power is a concept related to the relative abilities of parties in a situation to exert influence over each other. If both parties are on an equal footing in a debate, then they will have equal bargaining power, such as in a perfectly competitive market, or between an evenly matched...

 almost completely to the employers' side, causing many workers to be mistreated and underpaid. Trade union organizations may be composed of individual workers, professionals, past workers, or the unemployed. The most common, but by no means only, purpose of these organizations is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment
Employment
Employment is a contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. An employee may be defined as:- Employee :...

".

Over the last three hundred years, trade unions have developed into a number of forms, influenced by differing political objectives. Activities of trade unions vary, but may include:
  • Provision of benefits to members: Early trade unions, like Friendly Societies, often provided a range of benefits to insure members against unemployment
    Unemployment
    Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

    , ill health, old age and funeral expenses. In many developed countries, these functions have been assumed by the state; however, the provision of professional training, legal advice and representation for members is still an important benefit of trade union membership.
  • Collective bargaining
    Collective bargaining
    Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

    : Where trade unions are able to operate openly and are recognized by employers, they may negotiate with employers over wage
    Wage
    A wage is a compensation, usually financial, received by workers in exchange for their labor.Compensation in terms of wages is given to workers and compensation in terms of salary is given to employees...

    s and working conditions.
  • Industrial action
    Industrial action
    Industrial action or job action refers collectively to any measure taken by trade unions or other organised labour meant to reduce productivity in a workplace. Quite often it is used and interpreted as a euphemism for strike, but the scope is much wider...

    : Trade unions may enforce strikes
    Strike action
    Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

     or resistance to lockouts
    Lockout (industry)
    A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work.- Causes :...

     in furtherance of particular goals.
  • Political activity: Trade unions may promote legislation favourable to the interests of their members or workers as a whole. To this end they may pursue campaigns, undertake lobbying, or financially support individual candidates or parties (such as the Labour Party
    Labour Party (UK)
    The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

     in Britain) for public office.

History

The origins of unions' existence can be traced from the 18th century, where the rapid expansion of industrial society
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 drew women, children, rural workers, and immigrants to the work force in numbers and in new roles. This pool of unskilled and semi-skilled labour spontaneously organised in fits and starts throughout its beginnings, and would later be an important arena for the development of trade unions. Trade unions as such were endorsed by the Catholic Church towards the end of the 19th Century. Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII , born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci to an Italian comital family, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903...

 in his "Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

"—Rerum Novarum
Rerum Novarum
Rerum Novarum is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1891. It was an open letter, passed to all Catholic bishops, that addressed the condition of the working classes. The encyclical is entitled: “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labour”...

—spoke against the atrocities workers faced and demanded that workers should be granted certain rights and safety regulations.

Origins and early history

Trade unions have sometimes been seen as successors to the guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s of medieval Europe, though the relationship between the two is disputed. Medieval guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s existed to protect and enhance their members' livelihoods through controlling the instructional capital
Instructional capital
Instructional capital is a term used in educational administration after the 1960s, to reflect capital resulting from investment in producing learning materials....

 of artisanship and the progression of members from apprentice
Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

 to craftsman
Artisan
An artisan is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewellery, household items, and tools...

, journeyman
Journeyman
A journeyman is someone who completed an apprenticeship and was fully educated in a trade or craft, but not yet a master. To become a master, a journeyman had to submit a master work piece to a guild for evaluation and be admitted to the guild as a master....

, and eventually to master and grandmaster
Master craftsman
A master craftsman or master tradesman was a member of a guild. In the European guild system, only masters were allowed to be members of the guild....

 of their craft. A trade union might include workers from only one trade or craft, or might combine several or all the workers in one company or industry.

Trade unions and/or collective bargaining were outlawed from no later than the middle of the 14th century when the Ordinance of Labourers
Ordinance of Labourers
The Ordinance of Labourers 1349 is often considered to be the start of English labour law. Along with the Statute of Labourers , it made the employment contract different from other contracts and made illegal any attempt on the part of workers to bargain collectively...

 was enacted in the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

. Union organizing would eventually be outlawed everywhere and remain so until the middle of the 19th century.

Since the publication of the History of Trade Unionism
History of Trade Unionism
History of Trade Unionism is a book by Sidney and Beatrice Webb.First published in 1894, it is a detailed and influential accounting of the roots and development of the British trade union movement. The research materials collected by the Webbs form the Webb Collection at the London School of...

 (1894) by Sidney and Beatrice Webb
Beatrice Webb
Martha Beatrice Webb, Lady Passfield was an English sociologist, economist, socialist and social reformer. Although her husband became Baron Passfield in 1929, she refused to be known as Lady Passfield...

, the predominant historical view is that a trade union "is a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment." A modern definition by the Australian Bureau of Statistics states that a trade union is "an organization consisting predominantly of employees, the principal activities of which include the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment for its members."

Yet historian R.A. Leeson, in United we Stand (1971), said:
Recent historical research by Bob James in Craft, Trade or Mystery (2001) puts forward the view that trade unions are part of a broader movement of benefit societies
Benefit society
A benefit society or mutual aid society is an organization or voluntary association formed to provide mutual aid, benefit or insurance for relief from sundry difficulties...

, which includes medieval guilds, Freemasons
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, Oddfellows
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows , also known as the Three Link Fraternity, is an altruistic and benevolent fraternal organization derived from the similar British Oddfellows service organizations which came into being during the 18th century, at a time when altruistic and charitable acts were...

, friendly societies
Friendly society
A friendly society is a mutual association for insurance, pensions or savings and loan-like purposes, or cooperative banking. It is a mutual organization or benefit society composed of a body of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose...

, and other fraternal organisations.

The 18th century economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

 noted the imbalance in the rights of workers in regards to owners (or "masters"). In The Wealth of Nations
The Wealth of Nations
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith...

, Book I, chapter 8, Smith wrote:
As Smith noted, unions were illegal for many years in most countries, although Smith argued that it should remain illegal to fix wages or prices by employees or employers. There were severe penalties for attempting to organize unions, up to and including execution. Despite this, unions were formed and began to acquire political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

, eventually resulting in a body of labour law that not only legalized organizing efforts, but codified the relationship between employers and those employees organized into unions. Even after the legitimization of trade unions there was opposition, as the case of the Tolpuddle Martyrs
Tolpuddle Martyrs
The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century Dorset agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as...

 shows.

The right to join a trade union is mentioned in article 23, subsection 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

), which also states in article 20, subsection 2 that "No one may be compelled to belong to an association". Prohibiting a person from joining or forming a union, as well as forcing a person to do the same (e.g. "closed shops" or "union shops", see below), whether by a government or by a business, is generally considered a human rights abuse. Similar allegations can be levelled if an employer discriminates
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 based on trade union membership. Attempts by an employer, often with the help of outside agencies, to prevent union membership amongst their staff is known as union busting
Union busting
Union busting is a wide range of activities undertaken by employers, their proxies, and governments, which attempt to prevent the formation or expansion of trade unions...

.

Europe

In France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and other European countries, socialist parties and democrats played a prominent role in forming and building up trade unions, especially from the 1870s onwards. This stood in contrast to the British experience, where moderate New Model Union
New Model Union
New Model Trade Unions were a variety of Trade Unions prominent in the 1850s and 1860s in the UK. The term was coined by Sidney and Beatrice Webb in their History of Trade Unionism , although later historians have questioned how far New Model Trade Unions represented a 'new wave' of unionism, as...

s dominated the union movement from the mid-19th century and where trade unionism was stronger than the political labour movement until the formation and growth of the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 in the early years of the 20th century.

Government opposition to Trade unionism in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 was a major factor in economic crises during the 1960s
1960s
The 1960s was the decade that started on January 1, 1960, and ended on December 31, 1969. It was the seventh decade of the 20th century.The 1960s term also refers to an era more often called The Sixties, denoting the complex of inter-related cultural and political trends across the globe...

 and in particular the 1970s
1970s
File:1970s decade montage.png|From left, clockwise: US President Richard Nixon doing the V for Victory sign after his resignation from office after the Watergate scandal in 1974; Refugees aboard a US naval boat after the Fall of Saigon, leading to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975; The 1973 oil...

, culminating some would argue in the Winter of Discontent
Winter of Discontent
The "Winter of Discontent" is an expression, popularised by the British media, referring to the winter of 1978–79 in the United Kingdom, during which there were widespread strikes by local authority trade unions demanding larger pay rises for their members, because the Labour government of...

 of late 1978 and early 1979, when a significant percentage of the nation's public sector workers went on strike. By this stage, some 12,000,000 workers in the United Kingdom were trade union members. However, the election of the Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 led by Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 at the general election
United Kingdom general election, 1979
The United Kingdom general election of 1979 was held on 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. The Conservative Party, led by Margaret Thatcher ousted the incumbent Labour government of James Callaghan with a parliamentary majority of 43 seats...

 in May 1979, at the expense of Labour's James Callaghan
James Callaghan
Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC , was a British Labour politician, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980...

, saw substantial trade union reform which saw the level of strikes fall, but also the level of trade union membership fall. By the end of the 1980s
1980s
File:1980s decade montage.png|thumb|400px|From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, Columbia, lifted off in 1981; American President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev eased tensions between the two superpowers, leading to the end of the Cold War; The Fall of the Berlin Wall in...

, membership had fallen to just over 6,000,000—little more than half the level of a decade earlier—and it also counted against the Labour Party's hopes of regaining power, as its relationship with the trade unions had traditionally been seen as a strength but after the Winter of Discontent it was seen as a liability. Manufacturing, the main source of union strength in the United Kingdom, had shrunk by half during the early 1980s recession
Early 1980s recession
The early 1980s recession describes the severe global economic recession affecting much of the developed world in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The United States and Japan exited recession relatively early, but high unemployment would continue to affect other OECD nations through at least 1985...

 pushing unemployment from 1,500,000 to more than 3,000,000.

Earlier in the 1970s, Conservative prime minister Edward Heath
Edward Heath
Sir Edward Richard George "Ted" Heath, KG, MBE, PC was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as Leader of the Conservative Party ....

 (elected in 1970
United Kingdom general election, 1970
The United Kingdom general election of 1970 was held on 18 June 1970, and resulted in a surprise victory for the Conservative Party under leader Edward Heath, who defeated the Labour Party under Harold Wilson. The election also saw the Liberal Party and its new leader Jeremy Thorpe lose half their...

) had attempted to reduce trade union powers due to the rising level of strikes across the country. However, he backed down with his stance against the unions following a backlash by the militant miners' union, which saw many of his own MPs
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 turn against him. The strikes continued, and Heath responded by calling a snap election in February 1974
United Kingdom general election, February 1974
The United Kingdom's general election of February 1974 was held on the 28th of that month. It was the first of two United Kingdom general elections held that year, and the first election since the Second World War not to produce an overall majority in the House of Commons for the winning party,...

. The election resulted in a hung parliament
Hung parliament
In a two-party parliamentary system of government, a hung parliament occurs when neither major political party has an absolute majority of seats in the parliament . It is also less commonly known as a balanced parliament or a legislature under no overall control...

 with the Tories having the most votes but Labour having slightly more seats, and failed attempts by Heath to form a coalition
Coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

 with the Liberals
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 led to the resignation of his government and the return of Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 as prime minister of a minority Labour government, which gained a three-seat majority at a second election later in the year
United Kingdom general election, October 1974
The United Kingdom general election of October 1974 took place on 10 October 1974 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons. It was the second general election of that year and resulted in the Labour Party led by Harold Wilson, winning by a tiny majority of 3 seats.The election of...

.

19th Century American Unionism

In the early 19th century, many men from large cities put together the organization which we now call the Trade Union Movement. Individuals who were members of unions at this time were skilled, experienced, and knew how to get the job done. Their main reasoning for starting this movement was to put on strikes. However, they did not have enough men to fulfill their needs and the unions which began this trendy movement collapsed quickly. The Mechanics’ Union Trade Association was the next approach to bring workers together. In 1827, this union was the first U.S. labor organization which brought together workers of divergent occupations. This was "the first city-wide federation of American workers, which recognized that all labor, regardless of trades, had common problems that could be solved only by united efforts as a class." This organization took off when carpentry workers from Philadelphia went on strike to protest their pay wages and working hours. This union strike was only a premonition of what was to come in the future.

According to history.com:
Workers realized what unionism was all about through the configuration of mechanics association and many people followed in their footsteps. The strike gave others hope that they could get their concerns out by word of mouth. Before this time many people did not speak about their concerns because of the lack of bodies. However, with more people comes more confidence. Strikes were a new way of speaking your mind and getting things accomplished.

The next established union which made an impact on the trade movement was the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union. This union was founded in 1834 as the first domestic association. However, this union was short lived due to the panic of 1837.
"[Andrew] Jackson thought the Bank of the United States hurt ordinary citizens by exercising too much control over credit and economic opportunity, and he succeeded in shutting it down. But the state banks' reckless credit policies led to massive speculation in Western lands. By 1837, after Van Buren had become president, banks were clearly in trouble. Some began to close, businesses began to fail, and thousands of people lost their land."
This collapse of financial support and businesses left workers unemployed. Many of these workers, who became affected by the 1837 disaster, were members of a union. It was very hard for them to stay together in an economic hardship and the trade union movement came to a bump in the road. But the economy was restored by the early 1840s and trade unions started doing better. National labor unions were forming, different than ones in the past, consisting now of members of the same occupation.
The work force was drastically impacted by the Civil War and the economy was thriving. Many workers gained employment because of this economic boom and unions increased greatly. "More than 30 national craft unions were established during the 1860s and early '70s." One of the significant national craft unions to be formed during this time was the National Labour Union (NLU). It was created in 1866 and included many types of workers. Although relatively short-lived, the NLU paved the way for future American unions. Following the decline of the NLU, the Knights of Labour became the leading countrywide union in the 1860s. This union did not include Chinese, and partially included black people and women.

Knights of Labour

The Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labour (KOL) was founded in Philadelphia in 1869 by Uriah Stephens and six other men. The union was formed for the purpose of organizing the flyers, educating and directing the power of the industrial masses, according to their Constitution of 1878. The Knights gathered people to join the Order who believed in creating "the greatest good to the greatest amount of people". The Knights took their set goals very seriously. Some of which consisted of "productive work, civic responsibility, education, a wholesome family life, temperance, and self-improvement."

The Knights of Labour worked as a secret fraternal society until 1881. The union grew slowly until the economic depression of the 1870s, when large numbers of workers joined the organisation. The Knights only permitted certain groups of individuals into their Order which promoted social division amongst the people around them. Bankers, speculators, lawyers, liquor dealers, gamblers, and teachers were all excluded from the union. These workers were known as the "non-producers" because their jobs did not entail physical labour. Factory workers and business men were known as the "producers" because their job constructed a physical product. The working force producers were welcomed into the Order. Women were also welcome to join the Knights, as well as black workers by the year 1883. However, Asians were excluded. In November 1885, the Knights of a Washington city pushed to get rid of their Asian population. The knights were strongly for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 because it greatly helped them deteriorate the Asian community.
"The Act required the few non-labourers who sought entry to obtain certification from the Chinese government that they were qualified to immigrate. But this group found it increasingly difficult to prove that they were not labourers because the 1882 act defined excludables as ‘skilled and unskilled labourers and Chinese employed in mining.’ Thus very few Chinese could enter the country under the 1882 law."

The act also stated that if an Asian left the country, they needed a certificate to re-enter.

Although Asians were not welcomed in the union, black workers who joined the union brought a large number of blacks into the white labour movement. In 1886, the Union exceeded 700,000 members, 60,000 of them black. The Knights were told that they "broke the walls of prejudice"; the "color line had been broken and black and white were found working in the same cause.

American Federation of Labor

The American Federation of Labour (AFL),founded by Samuel Gompers, was established due to the vexation of many Knights who parted from the KOL. Many Knights joined the AFL because they set themselves apart from the KOL. The KOL "tried to teach the American wage-earner that he was a wage-earner first and a bricklayer, carpenter, miner [...] after. This meant that the Order was teaching something that was not so in the hope that sometime it would be.’ But the AFL affiliates organised carpenters as carpenters, bricklayers as bricklayers, and so forth, teaching them all to place their own craft interests before those of other workers."

The AFL also differed from the KOL because it only allowed associations to be formed from workers and workers were the only people permitted to join them. Unlike the AFL, the knights also allowed small businesses to join. A small business is "An independently owned and operated business that is not dominant in its field of operation and conforms to standards set by the Small Business Administration or by state law regarding number of employees and yearly income called also small business concern."

Since the knights allowed an array of members into their association, they ended up getting rid of many because they did not fit the title. However, the AFL was right behind them picking up their pieces. This was another way in which the AFL helped to destroy the Knights. Once an associate was no longer a knight, and they fit the description of an AFL member, they hunted them down and offered them a spot. Many times spots were offered to men who were still Knights. This allowed the AFL to grow very strong with a diverse set of members.

The diversity in the AFL faltered when many of the black members were excluded. Gompers only wanted skilled workers representing his union and many black people were not considered skilled. The AFL claimed to not exclude the black members because of their race but because they were not qualified for the part. "So as long as wages rose, and they did, hours fell, and they did, security increased, and it appeared to, the AFL could grow fat while neglecting millions of labourers doomed to lives of misery and want." Even black workers considered skilled enough to fit the part were generally excluded from the Union. The AFL conducted literacy tests which had the effect of excluding immigrants and blacks. Regardless of black members being excluded, the AFL was the most prevalent union federation in America before the mid 1940s. The union was composed of over 10 million members before it combined with the Congress of Industrial Organisation (CIO).

Congress of Industrial Organisations

The CIO was put forth by John L. Lewis when troubles with the AFL persisted, after the death of Gompers in 1924. Many members of the union requested that they switch the rules which were laid out by Gompers. They wanted to support inexperienced workmen rather than only focusing on experienced workers of one occupation. John L. Lewis was the first member of the AFL to act upon this issue in 1935. He was the founder of the Committee for the Industrial Organisation which was an original union branched from the AFL. The Committee for the Industrial Organisation transformed into the Congress of Industrial Organisation. "The Congress of Industrial Organisations (CIO) encompassed the largest sustained surge of worker organisation in American history." In the 1930s, the CIO grabbed many of their member’s attention through victorious strikes. In the 1935, employees of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company formed their own union called the United Rubber Workers. The Rubber Workers went on strike in 1936 to protest an increase in product with lower pay wages. "There were forty-eight strikes in 1936 in which the strikers remained at their jobs for at least one day; in twenty-two of these work stoppages, involving 34,565 workers, the strikers stayed inside the plants for more than twenty-four hours." This tactic was called a "sit-down" strike which entailed workers to stop doing their job and sit in their place of employment. During these strikes, business owners were unable to bring in new workers to replace the ones who were on strike because they were still in their seats at the factory. This was unlike any strikes in the past. Before this time, workers showed their fury by leaving their factory and standing in picket lines. Walter Reuther was in control of the union at this time and moved forward to higher roles during 1955.

AFL-CIO

On May 5, 1955, union delegates gathered in NY on behalf of 16 million workers, to witness and support the merger of The American Federation of Labor and The Congress of Industrial Organization. The merger is a result of 20 years of effort put forth by both the AFL and CIO presidents, George Meany and Walter Reuther. The gathered delegates applauded loudly when the time came to nominate officers for the new AFL-CIO. Reuther who was named one of the 37 vice presidents of the union, nominated Meany for President. After Meany’s retirement in 1979, Lane Kirkland took over his position. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was elected in 1952, was the first to publicly address and congratulate the new union, which was now the largest in the world.

In Eisenhower’s telephone broadcast to the United States he acknowledged the impact union members had made to better the nation and one of these impacts was "the development of the American philosophy of labour." Eisenhower states three principles which he feels apply to the philosophy of labour. The first principles states that: "the ultimate values of mankind are spiritual; these values include liberty, human dignity, opportunity and equal rights and justice." Eisenhower was stating that every individual deserves a job with decent compensation, practical hours, and good working conditions that leave them feeling fulfilled. His second principle speaks of the economic interest of the employer and employee being a mutual prosperity. The employers and employees must work together in order for there to be the greatest amount of wealth for all. Workers have a right to strike when they feel their boundaries are being crossed and the best way for the employer to fix the employees unhappiness is to come to a mutual agreement. His last principle which he preached stated: "labour relations will be managed best when worked out in honest negotiation between employers and unions, without Government’s unwarranted interference." Eisenhower was saying that when both parties cooperate and act in mature fashion, it will be easier to work out situations and a better outcome will result because of it. Once he was done delivering the speech, everyone across the U.S. knew of the new AFL-CIO whose "mission [was] to bring social and economic justice to our nation by enabling working people to have a voice on the job, in government, in a changing global economy and in their communities."

This new alliance is made up of 56 nationwide and intercontinental labour unions. The unions which are a part of this alliance are composed of 2.5 million working Americans and 8.5 million other affiliated members. These members do not fall under one job title but they are very diversely spread out among the working area. Their jobs go from doctors to truck drivers and painters to bankers. The mission of these workers and the AFL-CIO "is to improve the lives of working families—to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation. To accomplish this mission we will build and change the American labour movement." The AFL-CIO also has many goals which coincide with their mission:


"We will build a broad movement of American workers by organizing workers into unions. We will build a strong political voice for workers in our nation. We will change our unions to provide a new voice to workers in a changing economy. We will change our labour movement by creating a new voice for workers in our communities."


The association was willing to go to any extent to help out their employers which is why the membership was so high. Members started to slowly disappear after 25 successful years of a steady membership. Starting out with 16 million members in 1955 and dropping down to 13 million by 1984 is a significant loss. This loss of members is in large part due to the 1957 removal of the Teamsters’ Union who were long time members of the AFL. The Teamsters’ were involved in organized crime and manipulating employers with strong force. The Teamsters’ philosophy was to


"Let each member do his duty as he sees fit. Let each put his shoulder to the wheel and work together to bring about better results. Let no member sow seeds of discord within our ranks, and let our enemies see that the Teamsters of this country are determined to get their just rewards and to make their organization as it should be—one of the largest and strongest trade unions in the country now and beyond."


This philosophy did not work well for Teamster presidents Beck, Hoffa, and Williams who were all accused of criminal acts and sent to prison. In 1987 the AFL-CIO membership grew to 14 million members when the Teamsters Union was restored to the association.

The AFL-CIO also lost many members due to financial struggles in the United States. During the late 20th century the U.S. dollar began to oscillate due to rivalry with foreign countries and their currencies. This affects global trafficking and results in job loss for American citizens. The issues between the United States and foreign countries cannot be resolved by Eisenhower’s third principle, which entailed honest negotiations. Consequently, the association has been dynamically supportive in administration policies which deal with global trafficking, the production of goods, and many other issues, which are optimistic policies that will add to an established financial system.

The AFL-CIO is now governed by a gathering of delegates who are present on behalf of association members who meet every four years. The delegates who are the spokespeople of the federation members are chosen by union members. While the delegates vote for new representatives every four years, they also lay down the goals and policies for the union. The most recent representatives for the organization along with 45 vice presidents are President John J. Sweeny, Secretary-treasurer Richard Trumka, and executive vice president Arlene Holt Baker

In the United States there are a total of 15.4 million union members, "11 million of whom belong to unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO." This number has grown rapidly since the beginning of the union movement because today, all individuals with different occupations are welcomed to join unions. "Today's unions include manufacturing and construction workers, teachers, technicians and doctors—and every type of worker in between. No matter what you do for a living, there's a union that has members who do the same thing." Educating union members about issues that shape lives of functioning families on a daily basis is one of the AFL-CIO’s policies. They give them confidence to have their voices heard for political purposes. They also prioritize in


"creating family-supporting jobs by investing tax dollars in schools, roads, bridges and airports; improving the lives of workers through education, job training and raising the minimum wage; keeping good jobs at home by reforming trade rules, reindustrializing the U.S. economy and redoubling efforts at worker protections in the global economy; strengthening Social Security and private pensions; making high-quality, affordable health care available to everyone; and holding corporations more accountable for their actions."


The AFL-CIO is very supportive of political issues and they show their concern by giving out information about existing political issues to families. This information is spread by volunteers and activists and includes where all the candidates stand on the issues.

Mexico

Before the 1990s, unions in Mexico had been historically part of a state institutional system. Between the end of the Mexican revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

 in 1940, till the 1980s worldwide spread of neo-liberalism through the Washington Consensus
Washington Consensus
The term Washington Consensus was coined in 1989 by the economist John Williamson to describe a set of ten relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries...

, the Mexican unions did not operate independently, but instead as part of a state institutional system, largely controlled by the ruling party.

During these 40 years, the primary aim of the labour unions was not to benefit the workers, but to carry out the state's economic policy under their cosy relationship with the ruling party. This economic policy, which peaked in the 1950-60s with the so called Mexican Miracle
Mexican miracle
The Mexican miracle refers to the country's inward-looking development strategy that produced sustained economic growth of 3 to 4 percent and modest 3 percent inflation annually from the 1940s until the 1970s.-Background:...

, saw rising incomes and rising standards of living. Only a minor part went to the workers, while the primary beneficiaries had been the wealthy.

In the 1980s, Mexico began to follow the Washington Consensus, and sell off state industries (railroad, telecommunication) to private industries. The new owners had an antagonist attitude towards unions, and the unions, accustomed to the comfortable relationship with the state, were not prepared to fight back. A movement of new unions began to emerge with a more independent model, while the old institutionalised unions had become very corrupt, violent and gangster led. From the 1990s, the new model of independent unions prevailed, and a number of them were represented by the National Union of Workers
National Union of Workers
The National Union of Workers is a large Australian trade union formed in 1989.-History:The National Union of Workers of Australia was formed by a progressive amalgamation of unions from 1989 onwards in a time when all Australian unions were merging, with varying degrees of success...

.

Australia

Supporters of Unions, such as the ACTU or Australian Labor Party
Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party is an Australian political party. It has been the governing party of the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard is the party's federal parliamentary leader and Prime Minister of Australia...

, often credit trade unions with leading the labour movement
Labour movement
The term labour movement or labor movement is a broad term for the development of a collective organization of working people, to campaign in their own interest for better treatment from their employers and governments, in particular through the implementation of specific laws governing labour...

 in the early 20th century, which generally sought to end child labour practices, improve worker safety, increase wages for both union workers and non union workers, raise the entire society's standard of living
Standard of living
Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real income per person and poverty rate. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods , or measures of health such as...

, reduce the hours in a work week, provide public education for children, and bring other benefits to working class families.

Structure and politics

Union structures, politics, and legal status vary greatly from country to country. For specific country details see List of trade unions.


Unions may organize a particular section of skilled workers (craft unionism
Craft unionism
Craft unionism refers to organizing a union in a manner that seeks to unify workers in a particular industry along the lines of the particular craft or trade that they work in by class or skill level...

), a cross-section of workers from various trades (general union
General union
A General Union is a trade union which represents workers from all industries and companies, rather than just one organization or a particular sector, as in a craft union or industrial union...

ism), or attempt to organize all workers within a particular industry (industrial unionism
Industrial unionism
Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union—regardless of skill or trade—thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations...

). These unions are often divided into "locals
Local union
A local union, often shortened to local, in North America, or a union branch in the United Kingdom and other countries is a locally-based trade union organization which forms part of a larger, usually national, union.Local branches are organized to represent the union's members from a particular...

", and united in national federations. These federations themselves will affiliate with International
International
----International mostly means something that involves more than one country. The term international as a word means involvement of, interaction between or encompassing more than one nation, or generally beyond national boundaries...

s, such as the International Trade Union Confederation
International Trade Union Confederation
The International Trade Union Confederation is the world's largest trade union federation. It was formed on November 1, 2006 out of the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederation of Labour...

.

A union may acquire the status of a "juristic person" (an artificial legal entity), with a mandate to negotiate with employers for the workers it represents. In such cases, unions have certain legal rights, most importantly the right to engage in collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

 with the employer (or employers) over wages, working hours, and other terms and conditions of employment
Employment contract
A contract of employment is a category of contract used in labour law to attribute right and responsibilities between parties to a bargain.On the one end stands an "employee" who is "employed" by an "employer". It has arisen out of the old master-servant law, used before the 20th century...

. The inability of the parties to reach an agreement may lead to industrial action
Industrial action
Industrial action or job action refers collectively to any measure taken by trade unions or other organised labour meant to reduce productivity in a workplace. Quite often it is used and interpreted as a euphemism for strike, but the scope is much wider...

, culminating in either strike action
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 or management lockout
Lockout (industry)
A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work.- Causes :...

, or binding arbitration. In extreme cases, violent or illegal activities may develop around these events.

In other circumstances, unions may not have the legal right to represent workers, or the right may be in question. This lack of status can range from non-recognition of a union to political or criminal prosecution of union activists and members, with many cases of violence and deaths having been recorded both historically and contemporarily.

Unions may also engage in broader political or social struggle. Social Unionism
Social Movement Unionism
Social Movement Unionism is a trend of theory and practice in contemporary trade unionism. Strongly associated with the labour movements of developing countries, Social Movement Unionism is distinct from many other models of trade unionism because it concerns itself with more than organising...

 encompasses many unions that use their organizational strength to advocate for social policies and legislation favourable to their members or to workers in general. As well, unions in some countries are closely aligned with political parties
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

.

Unions are also delineated by the service model
Service model
The service model generally describes an approach whereby labor unions aim to satisfy members' demands for resolving grievances and securing benefits through methods other than direct grassroots-oriented pressure on employers...

 and the organizing model
Organising model
The organising model, as the term refers to trade unions , is a broad conception of how those organisations should recruit, operate and advance the interests of their members...

. The service model union focuses more on maintaining worker rights, providing services, and resolving disputes. Alternately, the organizing model typically involves full-time union organizer
Union organizer
A union organizer is a specific type of trade union member or an appointed union official. A majority of unions appoint rather than elect their organizers....

s, who work by building up confidence, strong networks, and leaders within the workforce; and confrontational campaigns involving large numbers of union members. Many unions are a blend of these two philosophies, and the definitions of the models themselves are still debated.

Although their political structure and autonomy varies widely, union leaderships are usually formed through democratic election
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

s.

Some research, such as that conducted by the ACIRRT, argues that unionized workers enjoy better conditions and wages than those who are not unionized.

In Britain, the perceived left-leaning nature of trade unions has resulted in the formation of a reactionary right-wing trade union called Solidarity which is supported by the far-right BNP
British National Party
The British National Party is a British far-right political party formed as a splinter group from the National Front by John Tyndall in 1982...

.

Shop types

Companies that employ workers with a union generally operate on one of several models:
  • A closed shop
    Closed shop
    A closed shop is a form of union security agreement under which the employer agrees to hire union members only, and employees must remain members of the union at all times in order to remain employed....

    (US) or a "pre-entry closed shop" (UK) employs only people who are already union members. The compulsory hiring hall
    Hiring hall
    In organized labor, a hiring hall is an organization, usually under the auspices of a labor union, which has the responsibility of furnishing new recruits for employers who have a collective bargaining agreement with the union....

     is an example of a closed shop—in this case the employer must recruit directly from the union, as well as the employee working strictly for unionized employers.
  • A union shop
    Union shop
    A union shop is a form of a union security clause under which the employer agrees to hire either labor union members or nonmembers but all non-union employees must become union members within a specified period of time or lose their jobs...

    (US) or a "post-entry closed shop" (UK) employs non-union workers as well, but sets a time limit within which new employees must join a union.
  • An agency shop
    Agency shop
    An agency shop is a form of union security agreement where the employer may hire union or non-union workers, and employees need not join the union in order to remain employed. However, the non-union worker must pay a fee to cover collective bargaining costs...

    requires non-union workers to pay a fee to the union for its services in negotiating their contract. This is sometimes called the Rand formula
    Rand formula
    In Canadian labour law, the Rand formula is a workplace situation where the payment of trade union dues is mandatory regardless of the worker's union status...

    . In certain situations involving state public employees in the United States, such as California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    , "fair share laws" make it easy to require these sorts of payments.
  • An open shop
    Open shop
    An open shop is a place of employment at which one is not required to join or financially support a union as a condition of hiring or continued employment...

    does not require union membership in employing or keeping workers. Where a union is active, workers who do not contribute to a union still benefit from the collective bargaining process. In the United States, state level right-to-work law
    Right-to-work law
    Right-to-work laws are statutes enforced in twenty-two U.S. states, mostly in the southern or western U.S., allowed under provisions of the federal Taft–Hartley Act, which prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers that make membership, payment of union dues, or fees a condition of...

    s mandate the open shop in some states.

Diversity of international unions

Union law varies from country to country, as does the function of unions. For example, in Germany only open shops are legal; that is, all discrimination based on union membership is forbidden. This affects the function and services of the union. In addition, German unions have played a greater role in management decisions through participation in corporate boards and co-determination
Co-determination
Co-determination is a practice whereby the employees have a role in management of a company. The word is a literal translation from the German word Mitbestimmung. Co-determination rights are different in different legal environments. In some countries, like the USA, the workers have virtually no...

 than have unions in the United States.

In Britain, a series of laws introduced during the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

's government restricted closed and union shops. All agreements requiring a worker to join a union are now illegal. In the United States, the Taft-Hartley Act
Taft-Hartley Act
The Labor–Management Relations Act is a United States federal law that monitors the activities and power of labor unions. The act, still effective, was sponsored by Senator Robert Taft and Representative Fred A. Hartley, Jr. and became law by overriding U.S. President Harry S...

 of 1947 outlawed the closed shop, and the union shop was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court
Supreme court
A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, instance court, judgment court, high court, or apex court...

.

In addition, unions' relations with political parties vary. In many countries unions are tightly bonded, or even share leadership, with a political party intended to represent the interests of working people. Typically this is a left-wing, socialist, or social democratic party, but many exceptions exist. In the United States, by contrast, although it is historically aligned with the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, the union movement is by no means monolithic on that point; this is especially true among the individual "rank and file" members. For example, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has supported Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 candidates on a number of occasions and the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) endorsed Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 in 1980. In Britain the union movement's relationship with the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 frayed as party leadership embarked on privatisation
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 plans at odds with what unions see as the worker's interests. However, it has strengthened once more after the Labour party's election of Ed Milliband who beat his brother David Milliband, to become leader of the party after Ed secured the trade unions votes. On top of this in the past there as been a group known as the Conservative Trade Unionists
Conservative Trade Unionists
Conservatives at Work, formerly Conservative Trade Unionists , is an organisation within the British Conservative Party made up of Conservative-supporting trade unionists.Under Margaret Thatcher's leadership there was a drive for recruitment...

 or CTU. A group formed of people who sympathized with right wing Tory policy but were Trade Unionists.

In Western Europe, professional associations often carry out the functions of a trade union. In these cases, they may be negotiating for white-collar worker
White-collar worker
The term white-collar worker refers to a person who performs professional, managerial, or administrative work, in contrast with a blue-collar worker, whose job requires manual labor...

s, such as physicians, engineers, or teachers. Typically such trade unions refrain from politics or pursue a more ordoliberal politics
Ordoliberalism
Ordoliberalism is a school of liberalism that emphasised the need for the state to ensure that the free market produces results close to its theoretical potential . The theory was developed by German economists and legal scholars such as Walter Eucken, Franz Böhm, Hans Grossmann-Doerth and Leonhard...

 than their blue-collar
Blue-collar worker
A blue-collar worker is a member of the working class who performs manual labor. Blue-collar work may involve skilled or unskilled, manufacturing, mining, construction, mechanical, maintenance, technical installation and many other types of physical work...

 counterparts .

In Germany the relation between individual employees and employers is considered to be asymmetrical. In consequence, many working conditions are not negotiable due to a strong legal protection of individuals. However, the German flavour or works legislation has as its main objective to create a balance of power between employees organized in unions and employers organized in employers associations. This allows much wider legal boundaries for collective bargaining, compared to the narrow boundaries for individual negotiations. As a condition to obtain the legal status of a trade union, employee associations need to prove that their leverage is strong enough to serve as a counterforce in negotiations with employers. If such an employees association is competing against another union, its leverage may be questioned by unions and then evaluated in a court trial. In Germany only very few professional associations obtained the right to negotiate salaries and working conditions for their members, notably the medical doctors association Marburger Bund and the pilots association Vereinigung Cockpit. The engineers association Verein Deutscher Ingenieure
Verein Deutscher Ingenieure
Verein Deutscher Ingenieure is an organization of 139,000 engineers and natural scientists.Established in 1856, the VDI is today the largest engineering association in Western Europe....

 does not strive to act as a union, as it also represents the interests of engineering businesses.

Finally, the structure of employment laws affects unions' roles and how they carry out their business. In many western European countries wages and benefits are largely set by governmental action. The United States takes a more laissez-faire
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

 approach, setting some minimum standards but leaving most workers' wages and benefits to collective bargaining and market forces. Historically, the Republic of Korea has regulated collective bargaining by requiring employers to participate but collective bargaining has been legal only if held in sessions before the lunar new year
Korean New Year
Korean New Year, commonly known as Seollal , is the first day of the lunar calendar. It is the most important of the traditional Korean holidays. It consists of a period of celebrations, starting on New Year's Day. Koreans also celebrate solar New Year's Day on January 1 each year, following the...

.

Criticism

Trade unions have been accused of benefiting insider workers, those having secure jobs, at the cost of outsider workers, consumers of the goods or services produced, and the shareholders of the unionized business.

In the United States, the outsourcing of labour to Asia, Latin America, and Africa has been partially driven by increasing costs of union partnership, which gives other countries a comparative advantage
Comparative advantage
In economics, the law of comparative advantage says that two countries will both gain from trade if, in the absence of trade, they have different relative costs for producing the same goods...

 in labour, making it more efficient to perform labour-intensive work there. Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician, academic, and author who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades...

, Nobel economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 and advocate of laissez-faire
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

 capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, sought to show that unionization produces higher wages (for the union members) at the expense of fewer jobs, and that, if some industries are unionized while others are not, wages will tend to decline in non-unionized industries.

Trade unions have been said to have ineffective policies on racism and sexism, such that a union is justified in not supporting a member taking action against another member. This was demonstrated by the 1987 judgment in the Weaver v NATFHE
National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education
The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education was the British trade union and professional association for people working with those above statutory school age, and primarily concerned with providing education, training or research...

 case in the UK, in which a black Muslim woman brought a complaint of workplace racist harassment against a co-trade unionist. The court found that the union, had it offered assistance to the plaintiff, would be in violation of its duty to protect the tenure of the accused member, and this judgment remains the precedent for cases in which union members who make complaints to the employer of racist or sexist harassment against member(s) of the same union cannot obtain union advice or assistance; this applies irrespective of the merit of the complaint.

International unionization

The largest trade union in the world is the Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

-based International Trade Union Confederation
International Trade Union Confederation
The International Trade Union Confederation is the world's largest trade union federation. It was formed on November 1, 2006 out of the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederation of Labour...

, which today has approximately 309 affiliated organizations in 156 countries and territories, with a combined membership of 166 million. Other global trade union organizations include the World Federation of Trade Unions
World Federation of Trade Unions
The World Federation of Trade Unions was established in 1945 to replace the International Federation of Trade Unions. Its mission was to bring together trade unions across the world in a single international organization, much like the United Nations...

.

National and regional trade unions organizing in specific industry sectors or occupational groups also form global union federation
Global union federation
A global union federation is an international federation of national and regional trade unions organising in specific industry sectors or occupational groups, previously known as international trade secretariats [ITSs]....

s, such as Union Network International
Union Network International
UNI Global Union is a global union federation for skills and services, gathering national and regional trade unions. It was launched on January 1, 2000. Its more than 900 affiliated unions in 140 countries have 20 million members...

, the International Federation of Journalists
International Federation of Journalists
International Federation of Journalists, IFJ, is a global union federation of journalists' trade unions—the largest in the world. The organization aims to protect and strengthen the rights and freedoms of journalists...

 or the International Arts and Entertainment Alliance.

Union publications

Several sources of current news exist about the trade union movement in the world. These include LabourStart
LabourStart
is the online news service of the international trade union movement. Founded in March 1998, it distributes news both from its own website and also through which is used by over 730 trade union websites around the world. There are newswires for specific languages, countries, regions, and some...

 and the official website of the international trade union movement Global Unions
Global Unions
Global Unions is a website, which is jointly owned and managed by the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC, the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD and ten global union federations....

.

Another source of union news is the Workers Independent News, a news organization providing radio articles to independent and syndicated radio shows.

Labor Notes
Labor Notes
Labor Notes is a non-profit organization and network for rank-and-file union members and grassroots labor activists. Though officially titled the Labor Education and Research Project, the project is best known by the title of its monthly magazine. The magazine reports news and analysis about labor...

 is the largest circulation cross-union publication remaining in the United States. It reports news and analysis about union activity or problems facing the labour movement.

In film

  • The 2000 film Bread and Roses
    Bread and Roses (film)
    Bread and Roses is a 2000 drama film directed by Ken Loach, starring Adrien Brody. The plot deals with the struggle of poorly paid janitorial workers in Los Angeles and their fight for better working conditions and the right to unionize...

     by British director Ken Loach
    Ken Loach
    Kenneth "Ken" Loach is a Palme D'Or winning English film and television director.He is known for his naturalistic, social realist directing style and for his socialist beliefs, which are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as homelessness , labour rights and child abuse at the...

     depicted the struggle of cleaner
    Cleaner
    Cleaner is the name of a German project specializing in electronic music. Formerly known as Cleen, Myer released several albums on the American industrial music record label, Metropolis Records, as well as the labels Zoth Ommog and Accession Records....

    s in Los Angeles to fight for better pay, and working conditions, and the right to join a union.
  • Hoffa—A Danny DeVito film (1992): The man who was willing to pay the price for power. "Jack Nicholson gives a gigantic powerhouse performance"—The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

  • The 1985 documentary film Final Offer
    Final Offer
    Final Offer is a Canadian film documenting the 1984 contract negotiations between the United Auto Workers Union and GM. Ultimately, it provided a historical record of the birth of the Canadian Auto Workers Union as Bob White, then head of the Canadian sector of the UAW, led his membership out of...

     by Sturla Gunnarsson and Robert Collision shows the 1984 union contract negotiations with General Motors
    General Motors
    General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

    .
  • The 1979 film Norma Rae
    Norma Rae
    Norma Rae is a 1979 American drama film that tells the story of a factory worker from a small town in North Carolina, who becomes involved in the labor union activities at the textile factory where she works...

    , directed by Martin Ritt
    Martin Ritt
    Martin Ritt was an American director, actor, and playwright who worked in both film and theater. He was born in New York City.-Early career and influences:...

    , is based on the true story of Crystal Lee Jordan's successful attempt to unionize her textile factory.
  • Other documentaries: Made in L.A. (2007); American Standoff
    American Standoff
    American Standoff is an American 2002 documentary film by Kristi Jacobson which documents much of a strike by the Teamsters against a package delivery company, Overnite Transportation . The film follows the strike from early 2000 to mid-2001.-Synopsis:The Teamsters' strike against Overnite began on...

     (2002); The Fight in the Fields (1997); With Babies and Banners: Story of the Women's Emergency Brigade (1979); Harlan County USA (1976); The Inheritance (1964)
  • Other dramatizations: 10,000 Black Men Named George (2002); Matewan (1987); American Playhouse—"The Killing Floor" (1985); Salt of the Earth (1954); The Grapes of Wrath (1940); Black Fury (1935)

See also



General
  • Eight-hour day
    Eight-hour day
    The eight-hour day movement or 40-hour week movement, also known as the short-time movement, had its origins in the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where industrial production in large factories transformed working life and imposed long hours and poor working conditions. With working conditions...

  • Anarcho-syndicalism
    Anarcho-syndicalism
    Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement. The word syndicalism comes from the French word syndicat which means trade union , from the Latin word syndicus which in turn comes from the Greek word σύνδικος which means caretaker of an issue...

  • Political Catholicism
    Political Catholicism
    Political catholicism is a political and cultural conception which promotes the ideas and social teaching of the Catholic Church in public life...

  • Labour aristocracy
    Labor aristocracy
    "Labor aristocracy" or "Labour aristocracy" has three meanings: as a term with Marxist theoretical underpinnings, as a specific type of trade unionism, and/or as a shorthand description by revolutionary industrial unions for the...

  • New Unionism
    New Unionism
    New Unionism is a term which has been used twice in the history of the labour movement, both times involving moves to broaden the trade union agenda.-1880s:First was the development within the British trade union movement in the late 1880s...

  • Solidarity
  • Strike action
    Strike action
    Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

  • Salt (union organizing)
    Salt (union organizing)
    Salting is a labor union tactic involving the act of getting a job at a specific workplace with the intent of organizing a union. A person so employed is called a "salt"....

  • Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
    Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
    The Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 , is a United States labor law that regulates labor unions' internal affairs and their officials' relationships with employers.-Background:...

  • Syndicalism
    Syndicalism
    Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions...

  • Workers' Memorial Day
  • Labour Day
    Labour Day
    Labour Day or Labor Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for...

  • Labour movement
    Labour movement
    The term labour movement or labor movement is a broad term for the development of a collective organization of working people, to campaign in their own interest for better treatment from their employers and governments, in particular through the implementation of specific laws governing labour...

  • Hazards Campaign
    Hazards Campaign
    The Hazards Campaign is a UK national network established in 1988 to campaign for improved workplace health, safety and welfare, and a reduction in the incidence of work-related injury, ill-health and death. It brings together Hazards Centres, Occupational Health Projects, trade unions, health and...

  • Opposition to trade unions
    Opposition to trade unions
    Opposition to trade unions comes from a variety of groups in society, and there are many different types of argument on which this opposition is based.-Strategic strikes and social disruption:...

  • Union busting
    Union busting
    Union busting is a wide range of activities undertaken by employers, their proxies, and governments, which attempt to prevent the formation or expansion of trade unions...

  • Employers' organization
    Employers' organization
    An employers' organization, employers' association or employers' federation is an association of employers. A trade union, which organizes employees is the opposite of an employers' organization...



Types of unions
  • Craft unionism
    Craft unionism
    Craft unionism refers to organizing a union in a manner that seeks to unify workers in a particular industry along the lines of the particular craft or trade that they work in by class or skill level...

  • Directly Affiliated Local Union
    Directly Affiliated Local Union
    A Directly Affiliated Local Union is a U.S. labor union that belongs to the AFL-CIO but is not a national union and is not entitled to the same rights and privileges within the Federation as national affiliates.Legally, the AFL-CIO is the parent union of the DALU, and the AFL-CIO is responsible...

  • General union
    General union
    A General Union is a trade union which represents workers from all industries and companies, rather than just one organization or a particular sector, as in a craft union or industrial union...

  • Industrial unionism
    Industrial unionism
    Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union—regardless of skill or trade—thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations...

  • Labour council
    Labour council
    A labour council, trades council or industrial council is an association of labour unions or union branches in a given area. Most commonly, they represent unions in a given geographical area, whether at the district, city, region, or provincial or state level...

  • Trades Hall
    Trades Hall
    A Trades Hall is an English term for a building where trade unions meet together, or work from cooperatively, as a local representative organisation, known as a Labor Council or Trades Hall Council...

  • National trade union center
    National trade union center
    A national trade union center is a federation or confederation of trade unions in a single country. Nearly every country in the world has a national trade union center, and many have more than one. When there is more than one national center, it is often because of ideological differences—in some...

  • Anarcho-syndicalism
    Anarcho-syndicalism
    Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement. The word syndicalism comes from the French word syndicat which means trade union , from the Latin word syndicus which in turn comes from the Greek word σύνδικος which means caretaker of an issue...



Union federation
  • AFL-CIO
    AFL-CIO
    The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly AFL–CIO, is a national trade union center, the largest federation of unions in the United States, made up of 56 national and international unions, together representing more than 11 million workers...

  • Change to Win Federation
    Change to Win Federation
    The Change to Win Federation is a coalition of American labor unions originally formed in 2005 as an alternative to the AFL-CIO. The coalition is associated with strong advocacy of the organizing model...

  • Labor federation competition in the United States
  • International Trade Union Confederation
    International Trade Union Confederation
    The International Trade Union Confederation is the world's largest trade union federation. It was formed on November 1, 2006 out of the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederation of Labour...

  • International Labor Rights Forum
  • International Workers Association
    International Workers Association
    The International Workers' Association is an international federation of anarcho-syndicalist labour unions and initiatives based primarily in Europe and Latin America....


Books

  • The Government of British Trade Unions: A study of Apathy and the Democratic Process in the Transport and General Worker Union by Joseph Goldstein
  • The Early English Trade Unions: Documents from Home Office Papers in the Public Record Office by A. Aspinall
  • Magnificent Journey: The Rise of the Trade Unions, by Francis Williams
  • Trade Unions by Allan Flanders
  • Trade Union Government and Administration in Great Britain by B C Roberts
  • Union Power: The Growth and Challenge in Perspective by Claud Cockburn
  • Directory of Employer's Associations, Trade Unions, Joint Organisations—No author and produced in paperback
  • The History of the TUC (Trades Union Congress
    Trades Union Congress
    The Trades Union Congress is a national trade union centre, a federation of trade unions in the United Kingdom, representing the majority of trade unions...

    ) 1868–1968: A pictorial Survey of a Social Revolution—Illustrated with Contemporary Prints, Documents and Photographs, edited by Lionel Birch
  • Panitch, Leo & Swartz, Donald (2003). From consent to coercion: The assault on trade union freedoms, third edition. Ontario: Garamound Press.
  • Phil Dine (2007). State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence, McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-148844-0

Articles



Notes

External links

International

Australia

Europe

United States
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK