Labor History

Spencer Daines

Conditions of pre-unions

The working conditions before unions were not good. They were not safe for the workers one bit. They were paid very poorly, barely enough to make a "decent" living. Also the workzones were generally unsafe. With alot of moving parts and no top of the line safety equipment. They also had to work long days, anywhere from 8 to 14 hour days. After working this long people got tired and drowsy, and put other people in danger.

Why Unions Formed

With all of these dangerous situations at work with people getting hurt or even killed they decided to create unions. Also as peoples wages were getting cut more and more they decided acting out. This caused a lot of mass killings and attacks of bosses or other poeple of importance. Soon there was fighting of all kinds of people all over. Whcich caused the working places to become even more dangerous. After all these outbreaks Unions were created to protect this from happening.

Examples of Unions

One example of an early union was the Knights of Labor. By 1886, the Knights of Labor had 700,000 workers in it. This is because it was the first "real" union, and it accepted everyone from white males to females to blacks. Another example is the American Federation of Labor (AFL). They started by arguing that they wanted shorter hours and better wages. There were many battles in these unions. Anywhere from physical fights where people were getting killed to fights over what they thought the new rules hsould be in factories and such.

Conditions Post Formation of Unions

After unions started laws started to get passed that made working environments better for everyone. One of the first things passed was the Ten Hour Act, which said people can only work up to ten hour days in a factory. Another later thing that happened was the Sherman Antitrust act of 1890. After the Unions started work places cleaned up and became safer for the workers. Also Workers were getting better wages while working less. This led to more happy workers and less strikes where people were hurting each other.

History of Unions in WI

In 1865 Molders Union Local 125 was the first madern trade union formed. Knights of St. Crispin formed in Milwaukee, which was a union that was against Bay View Rolling Mills. It later became the nations largest union with over 50,000 shoemaker members. Later on the Wisconsin State Federation of Labor came about. Their goals were to abolish child labor, workplace safety and helath protections, eight hour day, workers compensation, and to get paid there wages in cash. Eventually the employers gave in and the employees were happy.

Current State of Unions

Unions today are normally split into one of two bigger unions thats either the AFL-CIO or the Change to Win Federation. Unions are in a pretty good state nowadays. although with our latest depression the unions have became a little more of an issue. Although the unions today advocate policies and legislation favorable to workers in the US. It keeps work places safe, gives workers benefits, gives them a good wage, doesnt let them work huge shifts, and much more. All in all since unions came along it is a much more peaceful way of dealing with differences in workers and their bosses when they disagree.