Unions both labor and trade are recognized in the U.S as being the representatives of all of the workers in a specific industry. These unions offer the workers protection but at the same time lack of freedom. They offer them power, without independence. Many believe that unions are a good thing for this country, however regardless of your opinion, here is a brief history of the entire theory of “A Union”.
The main reason that the idea of a “one for all” union came into place in the 19th century when the industrial age was born. The national unions started forming legitimately after the end of the civil war era. Around this time there were very few successful unions that were able to survive and therefore the future looked dim for them. In 1886 the American Federation of Labour was born and therefore gave rise to the first powerful and well-run union the country had seen. It served as a big player in organizing workers strikes as well as being a strong political influence as well. At its pinnacle, it had approximately 1.4 million members inside the union and it was successfully credited with negotiating raises and benefits for all members, being the first of it’s kind to do so.
Pro-business conservatives then were able to gain control of Congress in 1946, and soon after, followed up with the Taft-Hartley Act. The current President, President Truman, vetoed it quickly but the Conservative coalition overrode the veto thereby passing the Taft-Hartley Act. The veto override had significant Democratic support, even including 106 out of 177 Democrats in the House. The law, which is still in effect, was able to ban union contributions to political candidates, restricted the power of unions to call strikes that “threatened national security”. This was the first real piece of legislature to pass which shackled the hands of many unions in the country. The unions campaigned vigorously for years to repeal the law but were ultimately unsuccessful. It was in this period during the mid 20th century where the turning point began when the unions began losing the power they once sought and therefore were no longer able to enforce their way as efficiently.
Unfortunately, since the mid 20th century, the American Labour Movement has been steadily declining. It was then in the 1950’s when roughly a third of the American Labour Force was unionized, however by 2012 the proportion was down to almost 11%. It was clear that it was during this time between the 1950’s and 2000 that unions everywhere took a hit. Even though they may still be vanishing and have been since 1950, there are many reasons why these unions are the country’s backbone. Firstly, they stand for everything that is American.