US History - Other

History of Labor Unions in the United States



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The industrial revolution, which began within the United States of America during the 1820's, is the primary factor that brought about the creation of labor unions, the most noted of which is the United Mine Workers of America, which was organized on January 25, 1890. Prior to that time there were many other independent labor unions that also became a part of the American Federation of Labor.

The American Federation of Labor was founded in December 1886 in Columbus, Ohio, of which the United Mine Workers became a part after its creation. The true purpose of the American Federation of Labor was to collectively deal with the issue of employee unrest of those who earned a living by working for an employer. The most noted example of such worker unrest took place in Chicago and became known as the Haymarket Riot.

In order to fully understand the history of labor unions, you must first understand why those labor unions were created. The greed of the owners and/or employers, together with market competition, caused such people to hire those people who were willing to work for the least amount of money, coming at a time when most employees worked as long as 80 hours per week within what was usually a filthy and an unsafe environment. Children, no matter how old they were, and women also labored in such conditions.

It was, and still is, the goal of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, AFL-CIO, to limit the work day for all workers to 8 hours per day within a clean and a reasonably safe environment for every worker within the United States of America.

In so doing, worker strikes are organized and many other employer/employee labor disputes are resolved. Their goal is also to maintain the living standards of all unionized workers and members. As such, Collective Bargaining became the law of the land during the Administration of President Franklin Roosevelt during the 1930's.

Since the creation of labor unions there remains an ongoing struggle to ensure that all working people are justly treated by their employer. The huge problem and/or issue today is the fact that the largest corporate employers within the United States of America have been slowly but surely outsourcing the jobs of the working people within the United States of America to foreigners within other countries, in an attempt to compete in the World markets. Clearly, the AFL-CIO again needs to seek legislative changes that would restore those lost jobs to "We People of the United States of America."

More about this author: Joseph Malek

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