Portal:Organized Labour

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Introduction

Image created by Walter Crane to celebrate International Workers' Day (May Day, 1 May), 1889. The image depicts workers from the five populated continents (Africa, Asia, Americas, Australia and Europe) in unity underneath an angel representing freedom, fraternity and equality.
A trade union (or a labor union in American English), often simply called a 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. Trade unions typically fund the formal organization, head office, and legal team functions of the trade union through regular fees or union dues. The delegate staff of the trade union representation in the workforce are made up of workplace volunteers who are appointed by members in democratic elections.

The trade union, through an elected leadership and bargaining committee, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labour contracts (collective bargaining) 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, occupational health and safety standards, complaint procedures, rules governing status of employees including promotions, just cause conditions for termination, and employment benefits.

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. (Full article...)

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A business union is a type of trade union that is opposed to class or revolutionary unionism and has the principle that unions should be run like businesses.

Business unions are believed to be of American origin, and the term has been applied in particular to phenomena characteristic of American unions. This idea originated over the court's difficulty when regulating worker's industrial rights, specifically following the decades after the Civil War. Hyman (1973) attributed the term "business unionism" to Hoxie, but Michael Goldfield (1987) notes that the term was in common usage before Hoxie published in 1915.

According to Goldfield, Hoxie used the term to describe trade-consciousness, rather than class-consciousness; in other words, according to Hoxie, business unionists were advocates of "pure and simple" trade unionism, as opposed to class or revolutionary unionism. This sort of business unionism is what Eugene Debs often referred to as the "old unionism". (Full article...)
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Left pointing double angle quotation mark sh3.svg Nothing moves in the city, without our say-so. Let the bosses curse, let the papers cry. This morning I saw it happen with these ancient eyes of mine. Without our say-so nothing moves but the tide!" Right pointing double angle quotation mark sh3.svg — Rob Rosenthal, written during the Seattle General Strike of 1919.

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