Portal:Organized Labour

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Introduction

A trade union or trades union, also called a labour union (Canada) or labor union (US), is an organization of workers who have come together to achieve many common goals; such as protecting the integrity of its trade, improving safety standards, and attaining better wages, benefits (such as vacation, health care, and retirement), and working conditions through the increased bargaining power wielded by the creation of a monopoly of the workers. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labour contracts (collective bargaining) with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.

Unions may organize a particular section of skilled workers (craft unionism), a cross-section of workers from various trades (general unionism), or attempt to organize all workers within a particular industry (industrial unionism). The agreements negotiated by a union are binding on the rank and file members and the employer and in some cases on other non-member workers. Trade unions traditionally have a constitution which details the governance of their bargaining unit and also have governance at various levels of government depending on the industry that binds them legally to their negotiations and functioning.

Originating in Great Britain, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution. Trade unions may be composed of individual workers, professionals, past workers, students, apprentices or the unemployed. Trade union density, or the percentage of workers belonging to a trade union, is highest in the Nordic countries.

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Female tailors on strike, New York City, February 1910
Strike action, also called labor strike, labour strike, or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became common during the Industrial Revolution, when mass labor became important in factories and mines. In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more power than workers. Most Western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

Strikes are sometimes used to pressure governments to change policies. Occasionally, strikes destabilize the rule of a particular political party or ruler; in such cases, strikes are often part of a broader social movement taking the form of a campaign of civil resistance. Notable examples are the 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard or 1981 Warning Strike, led by Lech Wałęsa. These strikes were significant in the long campaign of civil resistance for political change in Poland, and were an important mobilizing effort that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist party rule in eastern Europe.


August in Labor History

Significant dates in labour history.


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"Don't mourn for me—Organize!"

-- Joe Hill, last words.


In The News

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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%

Did You Know?

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"Big Bill Haywood," a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World.


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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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