A trade union
, also called a labour union
or labor union
), is an organization of workers
who have come together to achieve many common goals, such as protecting the integrity of their trade, improving safety standards, and attaining better wages, benefits (such as vacation, health care, and retirement), and working conditions
through the increased bargaining power wielded by the creation of a monopoly of the workers. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file
members) and negotiates labour contracts
) with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment
". This may include the negotiation of wages
, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety
Unions may organize a particular section of skilled workers (craft unionism), a cross-section of workers from various trades (general unionism), or attempt to organize all workers within a particular industry (industrial unionism). The agreements negotiated by a union are binding on the rank and file members and the employer and in some cases on other non-member workers. Trade unions traditionally have a constitution which details the governance of their bargaining unit and also have governance at various levels of government depending on the industry that binds them legally to their negotiations and functioning.
Originating in Great Britain, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution. Trade unions may be composed of individual workers, professionals, past workers, students, apprentices or the unemployed. Trade union density, or the percentage of workers belonging to a trade union, is highest in the Nordic countries.
Female tailors on strike, New York City, February 1910.
Strike action, also called labor strike, labour strike, 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 common during the Industrial Revolution, when mass labor became important in factories and mines. In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more power than workers. Most Western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.
Strikes are sometimes used to pressure governments to change policies. Occasionally, strikes destabilize the rule of a particular political party or ruler; in such cases, strikes are often part of a broader social movement taking the form of a campaign of civil resistance. Notable examples are the 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard or 1981 Warning Strike, led by Lech Wałęsa. These strikes were significant in the long campaign of civil resistance for political change in Poland, and were an important mobilizing effort that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist party rule in eastern Europe. Read more...
December in Labor History
||Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice."
||— Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Did you know...
Cripple Creek, Colo., under martial law, during the 1894 strike.
Union members march in Argentina on Human Rights Day in December 2005. The signs read "Worker rights are human rights..
Breaker boys, child laborers, working in a U.S. coal mine in 1911.
Exaggerated 19th century engraving showing flames and smoke following the Haymarket riot.
Lewis Hine's 1920 image "Power house mechanic working on steam pump," which shows a working class young American man with wrench in hand, hunched over, surrounded by the machinery that defines his work.
Abgesprerrter Place de la Sorbonne 18 Maerz 2006.jpg
Rally in Dhaka, organized by Jatiyo Nari Shramik Trade Union Kendra (National Women Workers Trade Union Centre), an organization affiliated with the Bangladesh Trade Union Kendra.
Union elections with an illegal firing, 1951 to 2007.
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