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Trade Unions Essay

1713 words - 7 pages

The productive potential of the United States depends upon many factors, including the status of employer-employee relations. Employer-employee relations have improved remarkable over the years, increasing the productivity of the American nation. This increased productivity is due to the increased use of trade unions throughout almost all-major industries (Sloane 495). Trade unions are organizations that represent people at work. Their main purpose is to protect and improve peoples pay and conditions of employment. Unions also campaign for laws and policies that will benefit the working people ("Trade Unions"). They are intended primarily for the average man and not for those with ...view middle of the document...

Many factors, including the federal constitution, improvements in canals and turnpikes, and the establishment of the first United States bank, all played vital roles in causing employer and employee interest to divide. The federal constitution prohibited states from taxing imports and exports. Improvements in canals and turnpikes resulted in a decrease in the high transportation cost that had been vital to the expansion of internal commerce. Further more, the establishment of the first United States bank provided greater availability of credit essential for long distance commerce. These factors had the effect of breaking down the localized nature of production. They brought the employer face to face with competition from outside areas, forcing them to be more cost-conscious. In an era when the major cost was labor, this could only result in a separation of employer and employee interest. The stage was set for organized protests by workingmen (Cohen 48).The development of early trade unions was a long process involving many factors. These early trade unions contained shoemakers, printers, carpenters, tailors, and artisans of similar skill levels. Their members agree on a wage level and pledge not to work for an employer who refuses to pay this amount. The early trade unions were surprisingly successful in achieving their demands, providing themselves willing to strike if need be (Sloane 57). However, employers turned to judges, urging prosecution of their workers organizations as illegal conspiracies in restraint of trade. Many trade unions were found guilty of joining in such conspiracies. Yet, in 1842, the Commonwealth v. Hunt decision, that strikes could be legal if they were undertaken for legal purposes, guaranteed the right to strike (Cohen 48). Once again unions became a factor to be reckoned with. By 1965 union membership grew to a high of over 200,000 unionists. However, in 1873 business collapsed, beginning a new period of deep depression that lasted for more than five years. During this period, most of the local unions disappeared, decreasing union membership to 50,000. Finally, in 1878 prosperity returned to the country and with it came the growth of unions once again. Over the next ten years, 62 new unions were established, increasing union membership to 700,000 (Sloane 62). Union membership continued to grow throughout the late 1800's and early 1900's, taking deeper root than ever before. This process of union development was a long and strenuous process, but labor unions proved that they were altogether devoted to strong vitality (Sloane 94).Trade unions are very beneficial organizations that provide negotiation as well as representation in the workplace. Trade unions major objective is to negotiate with the employer a written agreement covering both employment conditions and the union-management relationship on terms that are acceptable to the union. Both employers and union representatives most agree and live up to the terms in...

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