History of Labor Unions

By: Shawnee


As workers moved away from agricultural work to factories, mines and other hard labor, many faced terrible working conditions: long hours, low pay and health risks. Many children worked in factories, and women and children generally received lower pay than men. A common method of protest used by workers in the 19th century was the strike.

Why were unions formed

Labor unions were formed to combat the horrible working conditions and low wages of the early 20th century.

Examples of union

"When the short-lived National Labor Union became the first federation of U.S. unions, followed by the slightly longer-lived Knights of Labor, then by the American Federation of Labor founded in 1886 by Samuel Gompers as a national federation of skilled workers' unions. Other types of unions are, Craft Unions, which "organize members of a single trade or craft, which is an example of horizontal organization." Industrial Unions which "organize workers in an entire industry, regardless of the trade practiced, an example of vertical organization." Syndicalist Unions which "seek to organize workers into one union representing all workers." Company Unions which "generally take the form of employee organizations within companies that are experiencing unionization drives."

Conditions post formed of unions

"After the union unions began forming in the mid-19th century in response to the social and economic impact of the industrial revolution. National labor unions began to form in the post-Civil War Era. The Knights of Labor emerged as a major force in the late 1880s."

history of unions in WI

"Wisconsin's first labor unions were formed in Milwaukee, the bricklayers in 1847 and the carpenters in 1848. Other early unions developed in trades connected to transportation, clothing, and printing."

Current state of unions (WI and u.s.)

"Today, unions continue to serve the same purpose for which they were originally founded." "They still play a vital role in protecting and representing America’s workforce. Sweatshop conditions, at one time thought to be banished from the U.S., have seen a resurgence in recent years." "Immigrant workers have been frequent victims of sweatshops."

Work cited