Portal:Organized Labour

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The purpose of organized labour is for workers to form "a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment".

This is primarily achieved by use of the technique of collective bargaining, where labour organizations negotiate wages and working conditions with employers. Closely related is the concept of industrial action, in which an organization will call strikes and resist lockouts. Another characteristic of labour organizations are the provision of benefits for members, such as unemployment insurance, health insurance, pensions, funeral expenses, job training, and legal services. Organizations also often carry out political campaigns, lobbying, and support political candidates or parties. Operating costs are covered by the payment of dues and fees by members, with the expectation that the money be spent to benefit the membership.

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Massachusetts militiamen with fixed bayonets surround a group of strikers
The Lawrence textile strike was a strike of immigrant workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912 led by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Prompted by a two-hour pay cut corresponding to a new law shortening the workweek, the strike spread rapidly through the town, growing to more than twenty thousand workers and involving nearly every mill in Lawrence.

The strike united workers from more than 40 different nationalities. Carried on throughout a brutally cold winter, the strike lasted more than two months, defying the assumptions of conservative trade unions within the American Federation of Labor (AFL) that immigrant, largely female and ethnically divided workers could not be organized. In late January, when a bystander was killed during a protest, IWW organizers Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti were arrested on charges of being accessories to the murder.

IWW leaders Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn came to Lawrence to run the strike. Together they masterminded its signature move, sending hundreds of the strikers' hungry children to sympathetic families in New York, New Jersey, and Vermont. The move drew widespread sympathy, especially after police stopped a further exodus, leading to violence at the Lawrence train station. Congressional hearings followed, resulting in exposure of shocking conditions in the Lawrence mills and calls for investigation of the "wool trust." Mill owners soon decided to settle the strike, giving workers in Lawrence and throughout New England raises of up to 20 percent. Within a year, however, the IWW had largely collapsed in Lawrence.


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"What is a labour victory? I maintain that it is a twofold thing. Workers must gain economic advantage, but they must also gain revolutionary spirit, in order to achieve a complete victory. For workers to gain a few cents more a day, a few minutes less a day, and go back to work with the same psychology, the same attitude toward society is to achieve a temporary gain and not a lasting victory."

-- Elizabeth Gurley Flynn


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Labor News from Wikinews
  • July 16: British rail minister Claire Perry steps down
  • June 23: On the campaign trail in the USA, May 2016
  • January 21: Detroit teachers stage sickout to protest working conditions as Obama visits
  • September 7: US adds 173,000 jobs in August; unemployment rate drops to seven year low
  • August 10: US economy adds 215,000 jobs in July; unemployment rate remains steady at 5.3%

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The Organized Labour WikiProject is a group of editors who create and maintain labour-related articles. Here are some open tasks anybody can complete.

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