A Brief History of American Unions
Updated 10/25/17    Please 

I. Craft and Inclusive Union

      A. Craft Unions vs. 

         1. Organized in 1886 by Samuel Gompers
             as the American Federation of Labor -
             AFL
            
a. Each trade was autonomous.
             b. Union was not political. 


B. Inclusive Industrial Union

    1. The Congress of Industrial
        Organizations (CIO)
was organized in 1936 by
        John L. Lewis who broke with the AFL because 
        mass production workers need a different type
        organization. 
        See Decline and resurgence of the US auto industry

         2. Skilled workers were organized.      2. Unskilled workers were organized.
         3. High skill requirements naturally limited
             supply and unions tried to reinforce limited
             supply.
     3. Limited skills make limiting supply
         impractical.
         4. Tried to shift supply of workers to the left
             with licensing, apprenticeships, child labor
             laws, etc. to increase wages.
     4. Controled  supply of workers and
         emphasized collective bargaining
         to increase wages.
       B. How Unions Raise Wages

May, 2011 The Rise of the McWorker 
The evidence points to the latter. According to a recent analysis by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the biggest growth in private-sector job creation in the past year occurred in positions in the low-wage retail, administrative, and food service sectors of the economy. While 23% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession that followed the economic meltdown of 2008 were “low-wage” (those paying $9-$13 an hour), 49% of new jobs added in the sluggish “recovery” are in those same low-wage industries. On the other end of the spectrum, 40% of the jobs lost paid high wages ($19-$31 an hour), while a mere 14% of new jobs pay similarly high wages. 
For more read  Welcome to the McJobs Recovery Andy Kroll, TomDispatch

 In 1955 the AFL and CIO merged
 into the AFL-CIO.

Unions: Good or Bad?  
from the Motley Fool

II. Some Were Against Labor

New York police violently attacking
unemployed workers in 
Tompkins Square Park
, 1874

Some For Labor

Ida M Tarbell crop.jpg

Eda Tarbell and other investigative journalists were called Muckrakers. She exposed Standard Oil Trust. Working for McClure Magazine and other monthly magazines they help educated the public from 1890 to 1929 in what is known as the Progressive Era.

 

Labor Power

"The downward pressure on compensation is connected to the rapid erosion of labor-union power. In 2012, unions lost 400,000 members, or 2.7 percent, and their representation in the labor force fell to 9.3 percent, from 9.6 percent in 2011 and more than 25 percent in the 1960s. I
n the private sector, unionization fell to 6.3 percent, with the sharpest declines in manufacturing and construction. <

More states are passing right-to-work laws, which allow employees in unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues. In the past year, private-sectyees in right-to- work states earned 9.8 percent less than workers in other states. Manufacturing jobs pay 7.4 percent less in right-to-work states. On the other hand, the number of jobs in such states grew 4.9 percent in the past three years, compared with 3.9 percent in non-right-to-work states.

Municipal governments are under pressure to cut costs. Local tax collection is subdued because of earlier declines in property assessments and taxes, which account for 79 percent of revenue. State tax collections have revived, thanks to increases in corporate and personal income taxes and in sales taxes. Yet many states still face budget problems because of the fading effects of the federal stimulus enacted in 2009, which was used for infrastructure projects and to preserve teachers’ jobs. In addition, the Medicaid costs borne by the states are ballooning, and temporary taxes instituted during the recession are expiring. Vastly underfunded defined-benefit pensions are also fueling state and local government retrenchment." from seekingalpha 4/23/13

 

Books also help the education process.

The Jungle exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices
 in the early 20th century American meatpacking industry.

The Octopus exposed government corruption

The Bitter Cry of Children exposed the terrible child working conditions.
Some tried night school but after working ten hours learning to read was difficult.

See Progressive Era 15 min. video

Readings
U.S. Strikes, Lockouts Remained Near Record Lows in 2010  2/8/11
Is the Supreme Court Killing Unions 7/11/1
4
Lets Remember What Unions Have Done for America has extensive information and links
 

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Lets Remember What Unions Have Done for America

The middle class was not a gift of the Blue Fairy. Instead of “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” there was 150 years of worker working together, mobilizing against their employers — who organized cartels to fight their employees and raise prices for their customers.

It was a long bloody struggle, The victory of unions was foundational for the growth of America’s middle class. The fall of the unions was a major factor undermining the middle class.

 

 

It had many causes: corruption, greed, stupidity, infiltration by organized crime —
and the long successful counter-revolution by corporations, now eroding away the middle class.

For a blow-by-blow of unions rise see this series by Erik Loomis (Asst Prof of History, U RI).
 The toll these people paid is as much a cost of building America as that paid by the members
of our armed forces

  Progress Era
The Depression Era

 

  Post WW 2
Appendix

Posts about the conflict between labor and capital:

  1. The new American economy: concentrating business power to suit an unequal society, 27 April 2012
  2. Public employee unions – an anvil chained to the Democratic Party, 15 February 2013
  3. Why the 1% is winning, and we are not, 26 May 2013 — They are smart, organized, and have planned how to win.

 

 

 

 

 
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Have American CEO's Created  an Exclusive Craft Union?