CHAPTER 2 - CHAPTER 2 The Evolution of American Labor: I...

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CHAPTER 2 The Evolution of American Labor: I Labor relations in the United States has a history as old as the nation. Understanding the present operation and goals of the American labor movement requires an understanding of the events, personalities, and philosophies that shaped it. Among the questions that need to be asked are the following: What are the concerns of the labor movement, and how do concerns in the United States differ from those in other countries? How has the movement grown, and in what occupational and industrial sectors is its strength currently growing or waning? What place has organized labor been accorded by public opinion and the development of public policy over time? The next three chapters examine the history of the American labor movement and trace the evolution, growth, and demise of major labor organizations. The American labor movement has been predominantly results, rather than ideologically, oriented. Surviving labor organizations have adapted to change and been responsive to member needs. This chapter concentrates on the path the labor movement traveled from the nation's founding to the end of the 1920s. Particular questions you should ask include: 1. What was the legal, public policy, and public opinion climate surrounding early American labor relations? Consider the influence of legislators, judges, and the news media on early labor relations. What form did the American labor movement develop? Be aware of the properties that appear necessary for success in the United States. Ask whether the ingredients change over time. 2. What types of events contributed to and detracted from union growth? Do these still operate in the same manner? 3. How have the personalities of the major actors within the labor movement contributed to union growth? 4. How have the personalities of the major actors within the labor movement contributed to union growth? EARLY UNIONS AND THE CONSPIRACY DOCTRINE The genesis of the American labor movement parallels the birth of the nation. In 1778 the first successful collective action to win a wage increase was implemented by the New York journeyman printers. However, union growth in the United States did not keep pace with the growth of the nation during most of the following 200 years. Substantial impediments were raised by legal decisions, the predominantly rural nature of 19th- century America, and the substantial number of relatively unskilled immigrants who competed for jobs at relatively low wages. In fact, most collective actions taken through the 19th century were aimed at resisting wage cuts rather than attempting to gain increases. Philadelphia Cordwainers The Federal Society of Journeyman Cordwainers (shoemakers) was organized in Philadelphia in 1794. Its formation resulted from some substantial changes in the manner in which shoes were marketed. Until about 1790, journeymen had been almost exclusively involved in the manufacture of "bespoke" (custom) work. Master shoemakers took orders and supplied material for the journeymen, who produced a pair of shoes or boots for an agreed wage. This arrangement required that the customer be willing to wait
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for completion of the work. Since this was inconvenient, and expensive as well, three
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This note was uploaded on 02/26/2012 for the course MGMT 3680 taught by Professor Harrywater during the Winter '12 term at CSU East Bay.

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CHAPTER 2 - CHAPTER 2 The Evolution of American Labor: I...

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