RR

HideShow resource information
View mindmap
  • Trade Union Rights 1865-1992 USA
    • Post-war America - 1950s
      • Affluent society? By the end of the 1950s, 60% of American families owned their own homes, 75% owned cars and 87% owned at least one TV
      • The average worker's income was 35% higher than in 1945 and 200% higher than in the 1920s
      • Scientific developments and new technology impact = the numbers of hours and workers needed to produce a car fell by 50%, and from the late 1950s to mid-1960s, the expansion of computers enabled fewer workers to produce more goods in less time than ever before
      • Labour rights in danger as a result?
        • There was a decrease in the number of blue-collar workers because automation replaced more and more workers in the steel, coal and automobile industries
        • In the 1950s, TU membership in the steel, coal and automobile industries dropped by more than 50%, reflecting the reduction in the size of the workforce as a result of this new technology
        • White-collar, service sector and public employment jobs increase
          • White-collar workers signed no-strike agreements and were often barred from joining TUs
        • Women became an increasing proportion of the labour force, but at the time thought that TUs were something for men
        • Organised labour saw its proportion of the labour force drop from 36% in 1953 to 31% in 1960
        • Millions of American workers now enjoyed higher wage levels than ever before with an average working week of less than 40 hours. Many received paid vacations, healthcare provision and automatic wage increases tied to the cost of living
        • Merging of the AFL and CIO in 1955. AFL-CIO had a combined membership of 16 million workers
          • Joined together because of the increasing need for greater solidarity within the labour movement. The merging brought 85% of union members into a single unit and the old militancy of the labour movement disappeared.
    • Poverty
      • 1960: 35 million Americans (20% of the population) lived below the poverty line = greater need for strong labour unions
      • 1/3 of the poor lived in depressed rural areas. 2 million migrant farm workers also lived in extreme poverty in these areas.
      • 50% of the housing in Harlem, New York, was in a poor state
        • Harlem's rates of illiteracy, infant deaths, incidents of illnesses such as TB and crime were significantly above city and national averages
    • Kennedy's 'New Frontier'   (1960-63)
      • His ambitious programme of social reform at the start of his presidency was only partly successful
        • JFK's lack of support in Congress meant that his reform agenda was frequently opposed by a coalition of Republicans and southern Democrats
      • 1961: JFK's bill to increase minimum wage was rejected by Congress, but the workers already subject to the Act saw their hourly rate increase from $1.15 in Sep. 1961 to $1.25 in Sep. 1963
      • JFK succeeded in persuading the Steelworkers' Union to accept a non-inflationary contract with employers that included acceptance of minimal wage rises, but employers failed to keep their agreement not to raise steel prices (exploitation!) so the workers lost out since they were not able to benefit from increased profit levels
      • Equal Pay Act 1963 made wage discrimination on the basis of gender illegal and established the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' (amendment to the Fair Labour Standards Act 1938)
        • Salaries of women compared with those of men rose dramatically following the EPA. By 1970, their earnings were equal to 62% of male earnings, rising to 80% in 2004 (significance = took a long time)
    • Lyndon B. Johnson's 'Great Society'   (1963-68)
      • The creation of millions of new jobs and increased spending on social security benefits reduced the number of people living below the poverty line
      • Advancing the rights of organised labour was less important to Johnson than poverty, but some aspects of his reforming policies did impact on labour rights/the workforce...
        • The Economic Opportunity Act 1964 - established the Office of Economic Opportunity to fund and co-ordinate a job corps to attract and train young people in vocational skills, and provide education which would prepare them for further education to increase their employability
        • CRA 1964 - prohibited discrimination on the grounds of race/colour/religion/sex/national origin. Benefited AAs and other ethnic groups who had faced discrimination in the workplace
          • The impact of civil rights action and legislation on the rights and opportunities of AAs in the workplace
            • In de facto, the majority of major unions were fundamentally racist
            • 1950s/60s: AFL-CIO strongly supported the civil rights movement by funding civil rights organisations and lobbying politicians for civil rights legislation. It also encouraged unions to abandon policies that discriminated against AAs, even though it meant losing affiliated unions in the southern states e.g. Mississippi
            • 1950s/60s automation: New technology in industry demanded new skills and higher levels of education. The majority of AAs were unskilled workers. Exposed the poor standard of education available to blacks.
            • In de facto, TUs were unhelpful in promoting equal opportunities for the mass of black unskilled workers
              • The AFL-CIO pursued a non-racial policy BUT black workers were poorly represented on the leadership body
              • Smaller affiliated unions did not follow civil rights policies
            • Inadequate levels of education/lack of relevant experience could easily be used legitimately to exclude black applicants for jobs
            • Racism was also evident in very big companies - e.g. Ford Motors had 7,665 workers but only 74 of these were black
            • Discrimination was present in the building trade which was booming in the 1960s
            • Nixon's affirmative action created some opportunities for blacks, but it was difficult for young blacks to obtain craft apprenticeships or be accepted into craft unions
              • By 1969, blacks held only about 3% of apprenticeships in skilled trades
              • Plumbers, electricians and carpenters were jobs that remained traditionally exclusively white
        • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1968 - prohibited employment discrimination in hiring and firing/promotions/wage levels/lay-offs against people aged 40-65. Became illegal to include a statement of age preferences in job advertisements and deny benefits to older employees.
    • Union gains in the 1960s!
      • TUs (including AFL-CIO) began to bargain over wages and working conditions
        • Established unions bargained successfully with auto/steel/trucking/chemical industries
      • Contracts were periodically negotiated covering workplace relations and regulations for promotion and layoffs. Workers had the opportunity to voice grievances before neutral arbitrators.
      • Wages rose steadily by over 2% per year
      • Union workers earned around 20% more than non-union workers of similar age/experience/education
      • Unions won a growing list of benefits including medical and dental insurance, paid holidays and vacations, unemployment insurance and pensions
      • Unionised employers provided benefits worth 60% more than were given to non-union workers
    • 1981: the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organisation (PATCO) strike
      • 13,000 out of the organisation's 17,500 members took part
      • They wanted a $10,000 dollar wage rise, a shorter working week (32 hours not 40) and better retirement benefits
      • The idea that workers should be paid more for working fewer hours was unacceptable to the federal government
      • Strikers received the termination of their employment and a lifelong employment ban as a result (Reagan was President at the time)
      • Strikers received little sympathy from the general public, who saw the actions of those already well-paid workers as being against the public interest
      • Other unions were angry because the illegal action of PATCO (the strikers broke a 1955 law that banned govt. workers from taking strike action) had brought them all into disrepute
      • Turning point. Attitudes towards organised labour were changing, and the power and influence of the unions in the closing decades of 20th century were diminishing, indicated by...
        • The apparent hostility of the Republican government to organised labour in the person of President Reagan
        • The changes of tactics by employers in dealing with industrial disputes - in this case the blatant deployment of 'scab' labour (employers had always had the right to do this but had rarely used it)
        • The lack of any expression of solidarity from other workers, to some extent because the air traffic controllers were seen to be already well-paid in comparison to a significant proportion of the workforce
        • The negativity of public opinion towards striking workers who were perceived to be holding the country to ransom
    • By 1992, membership of industrial unions in the US had fallen dramatically from 27% in 1970 to 12% by 1990
    • Incidences of major stoppages due to strikes fell from 381 in 1970, to 187 by 1980 and to 31 between 1980-95
    • Why was there a marked decline in organised labour from the late 1970s?
      • The changing economy and organisation of American industry
        • Poorer people were affected by the reductions in welfare benefits during Reagan's presidency which increased their need to hold on to whatever work they could get
        • Mid-1970s until 1992: the gap between the poorer paid workers and those better off widened. The critical mass in the middle appeared to settle for what they had = reduction in strike action
      • The changing composition of the workforce
        • The movement and relocation of industry meant that the concentration of large numbers of workers in one place of work generally became a thing of the past, making TU organisation and recruitment more difficult
        • Larger numbers of unskilled workers were now employed either as casual or part-time labour
        • The service economy employed increasing numbers of female workers who were generally low paid, part-time and mostly disinterested in union membership
        • The unskilled workforce was divided culturally and ethnically - a new wave of immigrants came from Asia who were mostly unskilled and prepared to work for low wages. This made worse the long-established divisions in the labour movement.
          • Given that these workers were either not interested in union membership, or were prepared to work for employers who operated non-unionised businesses, the influence of TUs was clearly limited
        • 1980s: there was a  continuing growth in the number of white-collar workers to meet the needs of high-tech industry and the reduction of blue-collar workers effectively made redundant by increased automation, accelerating the trend that had begun in the 1960s
          • By 1980, there were 50.5 million white-collar workers compared with 30.5 million in 1960
            • Unlike blue-collar workers, white-collar workers were less well disposed to TU membership. Many benefited from generous welfare schemes provided by their employers and so were more inclined towards supporting employers than embarking on union action
      • The shift in the 'balance of power' between employers and the labour unions
        • There was an increasing tendency for employers to flout the law by denying workers their rights, particularly in relation to wage agreements as well as working hours and conditions
          • This trend was encouraged when employers realised that they could get away with it (workers generally failed to protest)...
            • Complaints that were made about unfair practices to the NLRB were processed so slowly that this gave a clear signal to employers that they could risk pushing the boundaries of the laws that were intended to protect workers' rights
              • By the late 1970s, the elected membership of the NLRB had fewer union leaders in its ranks than in earlier times, itself indicative of their diminishing influence
                • The balance of power had swung in favour of employers and away from labour unions
            • By the late 1970s, the elected membership of the NLRB had fewer union leaders in its ranks than in earlier times, itself indicative of their diminishing influence
              • The balance of power had swung in favour of employers and away from labour unions
      • Changing political attitudes and policies
        • Organised labour had been traditional supporters of the Democrats who had appreciated this close association as when union membership was high, it usually guaranteed them the working class vote
          • However, by the late 1970s, as TU membership declined and the unions could no longer claim to represent the  masses, their value to the Democrats diminished. Without political support from the Democrats, the power of organised labour was significantly reduced.
        • However, by the late 1970s, as TU membership declined and the unions could no longer claim to represent the  masses, their value to the Democrats diminished. Without political support from the Democrats, the power of organised labour was significantly reduced.
      • BUT the period of the 1970s was not devoid of labour-related legislation...
        • 1970: Nixon's affirmative action challenged discrimination in employment, benefiting black and immigrant workers as well as those from other ethnic groups
        • 1977: President Carter and Congress established the hourly minimum  wage at $2.65
        • 1970: Occupational Safety and Health Act established health and safety regulations in the workplace
        • There again...
          • By 1978, the attempts made by the AFL-CIO to persuade Carter to introduce reforms to the National Labour Relations Act 1935 failed - a reflection of the extent to which the Democrats were more interested in gaining the support of employers rather than the workers
          • Reagan, from the offset of his presidency, clearly set out to curb the power of the unions
            • He lifted restrictive regulations imposed by the federal government on businesses and gave greater autonomy to employers
            • His ruthless response to the PATCO dispute sent a clear message to employers on how they should proceed in their relations with the unions
            • Reagan supported employers further by ensuring that the NLRB (members were appointed by the president) was dominated by officials who were in agreement with his radical position. This increased the likelihood that judgements made in disputes between employers and employees were more likely to be decided in favour of the employer.
    • What remained of trade unionism between the 1970s and 1992?
      • Membership may have significantly declined but the unions did not expire by 1992. However, the power and influence of TUs significantly reduced.
      • Yet the 1970s did see an upsurge in the numbers of public sector workers (including teachers, bank employees and local council workers) becoming members of TUs. In response to this, the AFL-CIO created a public service department within its organisation.
        • 1970: first nationwide strike of public employees (US Postal Workers)
        • 1972: teachers went on strike in response to the reduction in real wages
          • Teachers strike alienated public support due to its immediate negative impact on people's lives
        • 1975: first LEGAL strike of public sector employees by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal (local council) Employees. 80,000 members took part.
      • The majority of strikes that took place within this period were localised and small-scale
      • Further development also took place within black trade unionism. 1972 = the Coalition of Black Trade Unions (CBTU) was formed. The CBTU represented 37 national unions and the assembly of 1200 black trade unionists made it the first and largest of its kind.
        • CBTU sought to establish the position of black TUs within the labour movement since there was a strong belief that the AFL-CIO was not sufficiently committed to supporting black unions and thus black workers
        • The CBTU showed particular interest in the position of black women workers - 5 black women became members of the executive committee of the CBTU
    • Women in the TU movement - before 1970
      • The Women's Trade Union League (WTUL)
        • Established in 1903
        • Leaders of the WTUL = Mary Kenny O'Sullivan and Rose Schneiderman
        • WTUL's work was predominantly focused on encouraging and supporting women in organising themselves into unions and opposing sweatshop working conditions (due to the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911 which killed 145 workers)
        • Aims of the league = laws establishing an 8 hour day and a minimum wage (plus pressure for the franchise)
          • This put the WTUL at odds with male TU organisations and especially the AFL who opposed the idea of legislation which they saw as usurping the role of TU negotiation
        • Supported by Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a member of the WTUL
      • The failure of the New Deal legislation to deliver equal pay for women meant that they continued to protest
      • Some male unions - e.g. the United Auto Workers - supported equal pay for women if only to ensure that employers would not be tempted to replace them with cheaper female labour
      • 1940-44 - dramatic increase in the number of women joining unions (800,000 in 1940 to 3 million by 1944)
      • Increase in the number of women in  paid work as union officials
      • 1960s - increasing number of women entering the workforce. TU women became more directly involved in union and strike action, often successfully
      • In 1962, women were active in the New York Hospital Workers strike - female pressure contributed to the agreement by the State Governor to recognise the right of the hospital workers to collective bargaining. As a result, in 1968 the union was able to secure a minimum wage of $100/week for all workers, male and female.
      • The women at the Levi-Strauss Blue Ridge jeans plant in North Georgia staged a wild-cat strike in 1967 (wild cat = without the agreement of their union leaders). When the employers brought in scab labour in an attempt to break the strike, the female strikers set up their own factory, supported by union men in the Copper Company, which operated on the basis of equality
    • Women in the TU movement - after 1970
      • 1970s = period of radical feminist activism AND the anti-feminist backlash
        • Working-class women did not identify with the feminist movement since they did not see them as fighting for equality for all women. Instead, they turned to union action in pursuit of their rights - 'trade union feminism'
      • Increasing numbers of women joined unions in the 1970s
        • 1974: Coalition of Labour Union Women (CLUW) formed. Affiliated to the AFL-CIO
          • It was a response to the apparent reluctance of the AFL-CIO leadership to recognise the growing presence of female TUs and the causes for which they fought
      • 1970s - strike action was generally decreasing, yet there were notable examples of militant union action taken by women...
        • 1972: Mexican-American women at the Farah Manufacturing Company went on strike demanding the right to belong to a union and called for a boycott of Farah goods, campaigning all across the US. 2 years later, the owner, Willie Farah, reinstated the workers and agreed to recognise their union.
        • 1975: Navajo women working in the electronics industry occupied their factory as a protest against the refusal of their employers to allow them to form a union
        • 1977-79: female bank workers in Willmar, Minnesota, staged the longest bank strike in US history demanding equal pay and promotion prospects
      • TU movement also began to address wider issues affecting women in the workplace e.g. sexual harassment and safety issues
      • OVERALL: union activity by women had clearly gone some way to gaining recognition for the rights of women in the workplace, from narrowing the gap in wages to securing better prospects for at least some sections of the female workforce

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Italian resources:

See all Italian resources »See all u resources »