History of Labor Unions

By: Brandon Gabrielson

Conditions Before Unions

Before labor unions were formed in the United States, working conditions were commonly very bad. Many children under the age of 16 had worked dangerous jobs for long hours and low pay. Many of the equipment workers used was dangerous and there wasn't restrictions of how long a worker could work, so many times a worker would become so tired and were more prone to accidents. Work places were often cold or hot depending on the weather, which made it harder for the employees to work. Sometimes when a worker would become injured, such as a cut in their hand, they would continue to work despite the injury.

Why Unions Formed

In the beginning labor unions were formed in order to bring the work day from 12 hours to 10 hours. It was not successful because labor unions were not very popular, but years later when the Knights of Labor was formed it was more popular and they were able to fight for their goal.

Examples of Unions

The Knights of Labor was one of the first big labor unions that was successful. Each industry has it's own union. The industrial industry labor union is the NIW, and the teacher's union is the AFT.

Conditions after the formation of unions

Once labor unions were formed they succesfully created a minimum working age and a working day length. Conditions in factories also was changed by safety regulations.

History of Unions in Wisconsin

In the beginning of labor unions in Wisconsin, most were around the gathering jobs, such as mining and lumber. Wisconsin unions didn't usually have strikes in order to get what they wanted from the companies. When they did go on strike, the business would high African Americans to take the jobs, which prevented success.

Current State of Unions

Labor unions consist of over 20 million workers and workers in a labor union tend to make more money compared to those who are non-union. A majority of workers in labor unions are colored. Most members of labor unions are males as well.

Works Cited

"CURRENT STATE OF LABOR UNIONS AND POLITICAL ASPECT OFTHE NLRB." CURRENT STATE OF LABOR UNIONS. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2013.

"History of Labor Unions Summary & Analysis." Shmoop. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2013.