History of Labor

Nate Mack

Conditions Pre-Union

Working conditions before unions were formed was said to be unbearable. This was probably due to working 12 hour days and 7 days a week. Children under the age of 12 were often employed. Foremen could beat up the workers who had no way to fight against such mistreatment. Workers made unorganized attempts to gain there rights back. They went on strike, and often sabotaged machines.

Why Unions Formed

In the 1820s unions began to form. They had many goals to help workers and their problems in the workplace. They were trying to get better working hours so that the workers did not get so exhausted, along with this they tried to get rid of the 7 days a week. Also they were trying to get rid of the low wages so there workers had enough money to pay for the stuff they needed. They also wanted to get rid of all the kids working in the dangerous factories.

Examples of Unions

  • The Knights of Labor
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • United Steel Workers
  • United Auto Workers
  • United Mine Workers of America

Conditions Post Formation of Unions

After labor unions were formed many things were changed. A lot of unions gained higher wages and better working conditions for their members. However, when the unions did this they reduced the number of jobs in some cases. Labor unions also made jobs become more safe and having a safety check in job locations to make sure it was safe for there workers. They also got rid of the kids that were working in the factories by banning child labor.

History of Unions in Wisconsin

In 1848 the ship carpenter workers in Milwaukee had the first successful strike. the formation of a Socialist Party in Milwaukee brought up action all through Wisconsin. In 1932 the first of Unemployment Employment Law in U.S. was passed in Wisconsin. In 1939-1947 Strikes at Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Co. in West Allis become national symbols of struggle tried to gain shop floor rights and debate over role of communism in unions.

Current State of Unions in Wisconsin and the United States

Workers belonging to a union in Wisconsin 339,000. If you take the average of all the states according to the number of people in the unions Wisconsin has a higher rate then average. Nation wide there are 14.8 million in the union, and 1.5 million workers were not
affiliated with a union but had jobs covered by a union contract.