Unions in America provides a concise and current introduction to what America's labor unions do and why they do it. In this engaging text, author Gary Chaison portrays America's unions as complex, self-governing organizations that are struggling to regain their lost membership, bargaining power, and political influence. This accessible textbook offers an impartial overview of American unions that ranges from the struggle for recognition from employers in their earliest years to their present-day difficulties.  

The Evolution of Labor Unions

The evolution of labor unions

This chapter briefly traces the evolution of labor unions and lays the foundation for subsequent discussions of union structure, administration, and activities. Obviously, it is not written as a comprehensive history of unions or labor-management relations. Rather, it highlights the forces that shaped what unions do in our economy and society, with a particular emphasis on the debate within the union movement over the appropriate union mission and structure and the employers’ acceptance or rejection of unionism.1

The Early Years

Prior to 1800, those few workers who were organized usually joined guilds for their crafts so they could restrict competition among tradesmen and enforce work standards. Some workers formed unions, but these organizations were usually short-lived reactions to ...

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