Civil Rights in the USA - List of Trade Unions

A list of various unions relevant to the OCR History A course

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  • Full name - the National Labor Union.
  • Founded 1866 by William H. Sylvis
  • Camapigned for:
    • an 8-hr working day
    • currency and banking reform
    • the end of convict labour
    • a federal labour department
    • immigration restrictions
    • the cause of working women.
  • The sudden death of Sylvis in 1869 and the rise of the Knights of Labor marked the end of the union.
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  • Full name - the Colored National Labor Union
  • founded 1866, shortly after the National Labor Union's foundation.
  • Exemplifies divisions within movement - segregation.
  • Declined with the rise of the Knights of Labor, who admitted all workers regardless of colour.
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Knights of Labor

  • Founded 1869
  • Gained most of its members after 1879 and the ascendancy of Terence V. Powderley, the new leader.
  • Aim (of Powderley) was to unite all workers, regardless of skill, gender, race and culture.
  • Demended:
    • 8hr working day
    • equal pay for women
    • end to child labour
  • Rejected strikes and sought legislation instead, but sometimes felt forced to support strikes
  • Haymarket Affair of 1886 ruined their reputation and their support dwindled.
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Molly Maguires

  • 19th century secret society of mainly Irish and Irisch-American miners.
  • Aim - better conditions in Pennsylvania mines.
  • A series of strikes in the 1870s led to violence.
  • They were eventually infiltrated by the Pinkertons and many members were put on sensational trials 1876-78
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International Workers of the World (IWW)- Wobblies

  • Formed in 1905.
  • militant.
  • mainly Western miners and itinerant workers.
  • Membership peaked 1923.
  • Protested through violence and sabotage, leading to many arrests.
  • Syndicalists - believed in a revolution through the unions.
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  • Effectively replaced the KOL after its 1886 foundation.
  • Supported the use of both strikes and collective bargaining.
  • Claimed to rely on the bargaining power of skilled workers
  • Split into the AFL and the CIO 19
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  • Full name - Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
  • Leader - A. Philip Randolph
  • Founded 1925 in secret, since the Pullman Company discouraged unions.
  • Initially denounced by Company as a foreign agency.
  • Recognised by Pullman Company after the Wagner Act made it the only legitimate union.
  • Aimed for better wages, promotion opportunities and conditions for the poorly-treated, mostly black porters.
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  • Full name - Congress of Industrial Organisations
  • Formed as a splinter union from the AFL 1937
  • Concentrated more on unskilled workers, and was more willing to listen to women and minority ethnic groups.
  • Aims:
    • create more closed shops
    • equality of labour
  • Resisted by employers.
  • The main target of the Taft-Hartley Act (1947) - the federal government thought it was too close to the Communists.
  • Merged with the AFL 1955 to form the AFL-CIO.
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  • Formed from the AFL and the CIO 1955
  • Very, very large
  • Able to take advantage of collective bargaining system and negotiate contracts over regulations, as well as provide benefit packages.
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  • Full name - Women's Trade Union League.
  • Founded 1903.
  • Leaders at the time - Rosa Schneidermann and Mary Kenny O'Sullivan.
  • Focused on encouraging women to unionise, pressure for the franchise and opposing sweatshop conditions, including a minimum wage and 8hr day.
  • Opposed to AFL who saw legislation as aiming to replace union negotiation.
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  • Full name:  - International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
  • founded 1900
  • Sudden upsurge in membership after 1909/10 and two huge strikes in New York City known as the 'Uprising of 20,000' and the 'Great Revolt', that the ILGWU was involved in.
  • Supported by more wealthy female activists, too.
  • Galvanised into further action by the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911
  • Rosa Schneidermann was a prominent member.
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  • Full name - The International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
  • Formed in 1903
  • Connections with the criminal underworld in the 1960s, leading to the disappearance of its president, Jimmy Hoffa.
  • Still exists today, covering a wide variety of blue-collar workers.
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  • Full name - Coalition of Labor Union Women.
  • Founded 1974
  • Affiliated to AFL-CIO.
  • Main figures- Addie Wyatt and Olga Madar.
  • Founded as a response to lack of representation within AFL-CIO.
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  • Full name - Professional Air Traffic Controllers' Organisation.
  • Founded 1968
  • Called a national strike 1981 over wages and working hours.
  • Decertified as a result, with all strikers fired and banned from the industry.
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