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What Had the Greater Impact on the Rights of the Trade Unions 1865-1950; the Federal Government or the Actions of Workers?


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What had the greater impact on the rights of the trade unions 1865-1950; the federal government or the actions of workers?
In 1865 there were little labour rights and even less trade union power, firstly looking at the four key aims of trade unions; the right to exist, the right to bargain collectively, the right to be recognised by both the government and the employers and finally the right to strike without losing their jobs. In 1865 there was no legal right to exist at all instead the government actively opposes the development of the rights of trade unions. This can be witnessed throughout the period up until the New Deal era as evidenced by the Supreme Court injunctions and troops used to break strikes. The right to collective bargaining was again a no as there was no legal recognition meaning that there are no examples of willingness to negotiate with them. This is evidenced due to the fact 1920s employers use ‘yellow dog’ contracts to stop workers joining unions. There was no protection from losing your job if you chose to strike, due to resource stock piling and scab labour the employers had no real need to listen to the demands of those striking. Whereas at the end of the period the right to exist has been gained via the Wagner Act, the right to collectively bargain was very close to being nationally complete, the right to strike has been taken away due to the president limiting the power to strike during world war two and finally the right to be recognized has been achieved. The key areas of influence on the rights of trade unions are that of the economy, government, workers, internal divisions and war. My preliminary judgement would be that that Federal government had a greater impact on the rights of trade unions, as the actions of workers were often catalysts or part of the movement that the government were undergoing in the area of trade union rights.

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