Labor unions are organizations of wage earners and workers that are legally allowed to represent the collective interest and needs of the workers. The unions bargain on behalf of the workers and wages earner with employers the welfare of such workers (Gloria 112).
Events and historical background of labor unions
In early 1600s when American colonies were brand new workers had no protection against unfair treatment by their masters who used to treat them harshly. The workers used to work everyday from dawn to sunset for meager pay and some went unpaid. During this era the worker were used to struggle to earn their livelihood, some couldn't even afford to pay for passage on ship, they sell themselves to the ship's captain and after arrival at the port the captain would resell them as indentured servants. Neither slave nor free, indentured servants had to work without wages to repay their passage. The indentured servant could gain various skills while serving their term and after repayment of the passage they could start new life as men and women.
The first case of worker power in US was established when settlement needed the skilled worker and so those indentured servant who had gained skills while serving their term took this advantage In 1619 Virginia formed a government and its citizen formed a body called House of Burgesses and later elected their representatives but polish worker were denied a chance to vote .This resulted to an organized labor strike in America. European merchants used to join into groups called guilds.
The guilds protected its members from rulers who used to demand payment from them in order to allow them to labor in their lands. (Gary 76) Most of the good which merchant used to labor were produced by skilled workers so even the workers were too influenced to form their joint groups called guilds. Craftsmen's guild could decide the prices, quality and quantity of the amount they could produce. During this time revolution was in the air and as the American revolutionaries fought for their independence these guilds were inspired to find way to improve their working terms and conditions.
In 1786 a print shop in Philadelphia tried to reduce the wags of the skilled print craftsmen to $5.38 per week and this resulted to some craftsmen not to engage in work until when they won a $6.00 weekly wag (Gloria 112). This incited the Philadelphia shoemakers to form the first union for collective bargaining and from since up to date workers unions has progressively increased in numbers.
Significance of labor unions in US
The major function for establishment of the labor unions in US is to bargain against low wages. The labor unions in US was a key part of the solution to improving job quality in various sector through their effort in negotiating and coming up with strategies which are aimed to improve workers low wages( Annettle 64).
Dangerous working conditions
Another reason for establishment of labor unions in US was to air the concern of the workers. The worker needed standard condition to work on so as to be productive enough to their employers. Among most common working conditions that the labor union fought against were working on Sundays, reduced work and retirement benefit, protecting and promoting merit system, engaging in welfare activity for the benefit of union's members. The unions also sponsored services training programs and professionalizing the civil service for the improvement of administration (Hurbert 178).
Protection against job discrimination
The labor unions also safeguard the right of minorities. The union made effective representation of the interest of blacks and other minorities by providing adequate safeguard to protect fundamental right of racial minorities (Herbert 157)
Lower work weeks
Before the establishment o the labor unions in us workers used to work throughout the week even Sunday was not an exception however, labor establishing the leave to its members unions aimed at establishing at least one annual leave to its members (Charles 130). This contribution has encouraged many individual to join the labor unions thus promoting increased number of labor unions in US.
Labor union has progressively increased in the US; this is due to their contribution in enhancing the welfare of the workers. Among the major contribution of these labor unions includes; bargaining for better wages, improving the conditions of the workers, protection against job discrimination and fighting for establishment of leaves to the workers.