Union Labor Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3659 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Careers

Union Labor

Contemporary voices routinely clash regarding whether the union labor, like the dinosaur right before it disappeared, is "history" and has perhaps has "outlived" its appointed time. To address this issue, the research researcher presents a number of voices relating to union labor; including its background and history, unions today (strikes and Negotiations), and union labor in the hospitality industry.

Some voices support union labor and assert that through the union lives of workers improve; that the union facilitates progress in issues other than wages and benefits. Those who support unions proclaim its virtues and insist that in contemporary times, as in the past, the union addresses numerous vital issues; including health and safety standards and minimum wage. The contemporary union movement in the U.S. that began in 1866 with the founding of the National Labor Union, according to the voice one tunes into, may or may not be good for democracy. The voice of some union organizers claim that opposition to unions would like nothing better than to see the union go the way of the dinosaur. The voice of some who oppose unions agree. Time, as with the dinosaur, will eventually determine the fate of the union.






Background and History

Unions Today - Strikes and Negotiations

Union Labor in the Hospitality Industry



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"Unions give workers a voice on the job about safety, security, pay, benefits and about the best ways to get the work done"

(Union FAQs, 2010).


The Union's Voice

Research Paper on Union Labor Assignment

The union, like the dinosaur right before it disappeared, is "history" as union labor has "outlived" its appointed time. Numerous anti-union voices would likely agree with this statement as some of those against union labor contend that union labor leaders work more for their personal amenities than for the well being of the companies they work for or for the workers they represent. In the Web publication, "Labor Movement History," Steven Pearlstein (2010) reports that some voices proclaim that when union leaders call for a strike to stress their position, they generally hurt the consumers most.

Other voices that support union labor assert that through organizing as well as through political action, the union works to improve the lives of individuals at the low rung of the working ladder. Unions also work, the pro-union voices contend, to help workers gain a greater say in their work life, even outside pay issues and benefits. Unions possess the potential to serve in positive role for both workers and employers, these forces insist (Pearlstein (2010). In the transcript of the National Public Radio broadcast, "A Brief History of the Labor Movement," Liane Hansen (2006) reports that Jeff Cowie, Professor at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, stresses that the union continues to address many of the issues it addressed in the past, for example, health and safety standards and minimum wage. To reach a conclusion for this paper, the researcher presents a number of voices relating to union labor; including its background and history, unions today (strikes and Negotiations), and union labor in the hospitality industry.

Background and History

The Labor History Timeline (2010) published on the American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) Website reports that the contemporary union movement in the United States (U.S.) began in 1866 with the founding of the National Labor Union. In 1869, the union took a second step with the formation of the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor and Colored National Labor Union. The adoption of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which decreed that states do not have the right to abrogate voting by color complemented this step. Union organizers formed the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in 1881 and in 1886 founded the American Federation of Labor.

In 1900, according to the AFL-CIO (Labor History Timeline, 2010), the AFL and the national civic federation supported trade agreements with employers, while the United States Industrial Commission affirmed trade unions to be good for democracy. At the AFL Convention during 1903, union organizers formed the Women's Trade Union League. In 1905, organizers unionized the Industrial Workers of the World. Due to charges of disloyalty to the U.S. In 1917, the leadership of the Industrial Workers of the World were sentenced to federal prison. A 1925, a Philip Randolph helped form the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. During this same year, the Railway Labor Act initiated the process that settled railway labor disputes during this time as well as prohibited discrimination against union members. The 1932 Norris-LaGuardia act prohibited the federal government from implementing injunctions in the majority of labor disputes.

An upsurge and strikes occurs during 1934; the national textile strike fails. During 1935, in addition to passing the Social Security Act, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act. Also in1935, the AFL in CIO created labor's Non-Partisan League and worked to help ensure that helped Roosevelt win his second term as president of the United States. The largest strike wave in U.S. history occurred during 1946. The next year, in 1947, the Taft- Hartley Act restricted activities union members could legally participate in. The AFL and CIO join together in 1955. During 1965, the AFL-CIO created the a. Philip Randolph Institute while Cesar Chavez formed the AFL-CIO United Farm Workers Organizing Committee. Three years later in 1968, during a sanitation workers' strike in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated (Labor History Timeline, 2010).

In 1990, the United Mine Workers of America won their strike against Pittston Coal and union leaders created the United Steelworkers of America Labor Alliance inside the AFL-CIO. Two years later, union organizers formed the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance within AFL-CIO. In 1997, AFL-CIO well it proclaimed its power as it defeated legislation which would have given the president the power to "Fast Track' trade legislation without assuring that workers' rights would be protected. In 1997, membership in AFL-CIO grew. Pride at Work, a national coalition of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender workers with their supporters, joined the AFL-CIO. In Los Angeles County (California) during 1999, union organizers organized more than 75,000 human service workers. During this same year, union movement organized its largest program ever of grassroots electoral politics. Following a 25-year struggle 5,000 textile workers in North Carolina form a union and approximately 65,000 Puerto Rico public-sector workers become union members (Labor History Timeline, 2010).

Figure 1 portrays President Roosevelt signing the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. As this act provides protection for American workers to collectively organize and bargain with employers, it helps their voice be heard.

Figure 1: President Roosevelt Signing the National Labor Relations Act (Labor History Timeline, 2010, 1934-1935 Section).

Hansen (2006) recounts that 129 years ago, New York City's workers united together to participate in and make their voices heard during a prominent parade and public picnic held on September 5, 1882 in New York City. This date noted the first celebration of Labor Day, the day that continues to commemorate America's workforce. "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers" (History of Labor Day, 2009, Labor Day: How it Came About Section, para. 1). A number of somber primary developments led to the point for workers to be positively recognized (Hansen, 2006).

Two years after the first unofficial celebration of Labor Day, during the Pullman Strike, a major strike that occurred on May 11, 1894 with the goal to organize the railway industry, President Grover Cleveland felt forced to call out 12,000 troops to restrain the striking workers. Six days after President Grover Cleveland called out federal troops to counter the railway workers' strikes, he made Labor Day an official U.S. holiday. The Railway workers had initiated their strike in response to feeling emerging corporate complexes dehumanized them. Instead of solving the labor problem during this time in history, the Pullman town exacerbated the town's existing tensions. The Pullman residents asserted the railway company controlled aspect of their life; that they had lost their own identity to the work. In "The Homestead and Pullman Strikes," Spence Holman (2000) asserts: "Unions gave a voice to those without [one]" (para. 5). Through the strike, the workers asserted a unified identify.

Unions Today - Strikes and Negotiations

In the Web publication, "How Labor Unions Work," Jacob Silverman (2010) explains that a strike constitutes a method union workers used during the 19th century then at times became violent. A strike occurs "when a group of workers stops working in protest to labor conditions or as a bargaining tool during negotiations between labor and management" (Silverman, Important Events in… Section…, para. 2). Contemporary strikes, typically peaceful occurrences, dramatically differ from some in the past as government officials sometimes used police, contracted militia or employed government troops to halt strikes. Sometimes official constraints to counter strikes ended with the deaths… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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