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 its 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.
Spartacist militia in Berlin
The Spartacist uprising (German: Spartakusaufstand), also known as the January uprising (Januaraufstand), was a general strike (and the armed battles accompanying it) in Germany from 4 to 15 January 1919. Germany was in the middle of a post-war revolution, and two of the perceived paths forward were either social democracy or a council republic similar to the one which had been established by the Bolsheviks in Russia. The uprising was primarily a power struggle between the moderate Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) led by Friedrich Ebert, and the radical communists of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who had previously founded and led the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund). This power struggle was the result of the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the resignation of Chancellor Max von Baden, who had passed power to Ebert, as the leader of the largest party in the German parliament. Similar uprisings occurred and were suppressed in Bremen, the Ruhr, Rhineland, Saxony, Hamburg, Thuringia and Bavaria, and another round of even bloodier street battles occurred in Berlin in March, which led to popular disillusionment with the Weimar Government. Read more...
November in Labor History
Did You Know?
Cripple Creek, Colo., under martial law, during the 1894 strike.
Breaker boys, child laborers, working in a U.S. coal mine in 1911.
Union elections with an illegal firing, 1951 to 2007.
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.
Abgesprerrter Place de la Sorbonne 18 Maerz 2006.jpg
Union members march in Argentina on Human Rights Day in December 2005. The signs read "Worker rights are human rights..
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.
Exaggerated 19th century engraving showing flames and smoke following the Haymarket riot.
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