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American Union Labor History

In: Business and Management

Submitted By WhatsItToYa
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Good evening everyone, I came here tonight prepared to speak with you all about American Labor Union History going back to the Eighteenth Century. Due to time restraints, I am now being asked to give you the top three most important events in American Labor Union History. There have been so many significant events, picking the three most important is a very difficult task. However, I will rise to the occasion and give you lovely folks what I believe to be the three most important events in American Labor Union History. The three I will speak briefly about are; the formation of The Knights of Labor in 1885, The Wagner Act of 1935, and the merger between AFL and the CIO creating the AFL-CIO in 1955. The foundation of The Knights of Labor is especially significant because this was the first time in American Labor Union History that there was an attempt to form one large general union. The early years of The Knights of Labor were very successful. This union offered membership to skilled and non-skilled workers as well as women and African Americans. Between 1885 and 1886 nearly 600,000 members joined under leader Terence Powderly seeking eight hour work days, equal pay, and to do away with child labor. The Knights won a major strike against the Wabash Railroad which led to the quick increase in membership. However, by the late 1880’s the organization was practically extinct due to lack of leadership for such an overwhelming quick increase in membership .
The Wagner Act of 1935 had a very positive impact on unionization. The Act gave workers the legal right to organize and bargain collectively with their employers. This was the first time the government was supportive of union activity and it brought many union members back after the Great Depression of 1929. The merge between the AFL which stands for the American Federation of Labor and the CIO which stands for Congress of Industrial Organizations took years of negotiations before a settlement was finally reached. The CIO originally broke apart from the AFL in 1935 as a more radical competing union. The CIO did well for the twenty years on its own; however both groups recognized their potential strength together as one organization. The AFL-CIO is still intact today representing 56 unions and over 12 million people . Sloane, A. A., & Witney, F. (2010). Labor relations (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

About the AFL-CIO. AFL-CIO . Retrieved September 13, 2012, from http://www.aflcio.org/About

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