• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How did US Labour Movement change in the period 1945-60?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How did US Labour Movement change in the period 1945-60? This essay examines the changes that took place in the period 1945 to 1960. Many of these changes were brought about not by the unions themselves but by external factors. American culture espouses the cult of individuality and the US labour movement without the socialist or social Democratic background of europe was more prone to the influence of economics, politics and social opinion. Economically this essay will show that as industry changed the unions changed likewise and union membership reflected the changing job market. Politically the unions with no strong political party affiliations [unlike British trade unions and Labour party] were at the mercy of public opinion and bandwagon politics as will be seen with the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Finally this essay will examine the increasing role of women and ethnic minorities in trade union membership and argues that their increased influence was in spite of and not because of trade union practices. The American Federation of Labour founded by skilled craftsmen in1886 emerged as the only permanent national focus for the political struggle of the American worker. The AFL scorned wider goals and concentrated exclusively on wages, hours and conditions. Ethnic diversity, race, the large agricultural sector, the western frontier, better Opportunities, greater equality, a higher standard of living all inhibited the growth of class consciousness and the rise of labour unions. ...read more.

Middle

By the 1950s what mattered the most in labour relations was not government law such as Taft-Hartey but the relative power of unions and management in the economic marketplace. Where unions were traditionally strong their influence was maintained. Weaker unions suffered because of the new legislation and were unable to grow. The Act reaffirmed labour's basic right to bargain collectively. [Patterson, 1996, pp50-52] American unions were losing the support of a whole generation including support among blacks and women. Unions had offered an attractive career to the young in the years between 1935 and 1960 but this was no longer true. A great majority of unions were unorganised. Demographic, economic, social and technological change from the mid 1960s rapidly transformed the nature of the labour force. Automation reduced the need for workers in basic industries, for example, car companies. Walter Reuther saw the need for action by the AFL-CIO and he argued that labour must help the poor by creating community unions and launching aggressive organising campaigns. He wanted the United Autoworkers [UAW] to fight for more democracy in the labour movement. The UAW, the most democratic, cleanest union which had always backed the Democratic Party emerged as the most autocratic, corrupt and successful exponent of business unionism which had always supported the Republicans. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was the case not only in its failure to bring the black working class Into union membership but also it lack of vision in ignoring the increasingly important place of women in the workforce. The increasing role of women in the workforce was due not to women inspiration but due to external political and economic conditions, for example, a shortage of manpower brought about in the Second world war. World war two complicated women's workplace culture. Hundred of thousands of women entered into auto work for the first time during the war often performing jobs considered ''men's work''. This increased the frequency and hightened the tensions of male and female interaction. Higher wages and increased numbers strengthened women's shop floor power. They often used that power to assert control of working conditions. As they took up new positions women auto workers became more willing to challenge gender discrimination. ' Working through both formal and informal union networks, women demanded equal pay for equal work and equal access to defence work.'2 It is important therefore to recognise the importance of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, how it successfully placed major obstacles in the way of union organisation resulting in the weaker unions suffering in growth. 1 Myers, D interview by Zahavi, Nov 11, 1992, audiotape, side 1, tape 1 2 Gabin, Feminism In the Labour Movement, 47-100 ?? ?? ?? ?? 32 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Trade Unions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Trade Unions essays

  1. How significant was the trade union movement in the creation and development of the ...

    In 1868 the first meeting of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) was held. This was a body that represented trade unions and was a sign that they had become a significant national movement. In the same year the TUC appointed a parliamentary committee to organise trade union representation in the commons.

  2. Impact of Industrialisation - The purpose of this essay is to describe and discuss ...

    Advances to medicine occurred and the standards of living improved health standards and lowed death rates, therefore people lived longer. Modern, fast means of transport, first the railways and much later cars, led to travel, holidays, suburbs, commuting and eventually the development of factories away from towns.

  1. Explain fully and clearly the importance of negotiation within industrial relations to resolve disputes

    The trade union and the government met for a conference to solve the dispute. No agreement was made so ACAS was called in to make a fair and reasonable decision. I think ACAS was called in as they are employment relation's experts.

  2. Describe and analyse the key developments in British industrial relations over the past 20 ...

    But, success in industrial relations is never judged only by law. More importantly, each year has seen a major growth in the number of voluntary agreements signed. This year saw a 300 per cent increase on last year. Few of these would have been reached if it were not for the legislation.

  1. Trade Union

    not increasing their costs by a large percentage). The third and final stage involves a negotiation process between the trade union and the employer. In order for this to be a success, both sides will be required to compromise and be prepared to accept less than their original objectives.

  2. 'The impact of legislation introduced between 1980 and 1993 is the principal reason for ...

    'Institutions of the post-war consensus were dismantled by the successive conservative governments, which implemented economic and political policies that forced unions on to the defensive, often against redundancy, attacks on trade union organisation or erosion of real income. No fewer than nine separate pieces of legislation were enacted in the UK to curtail union organisation and activity' (Waddington Year Page).

  1. Running head: Winnipeg 1919

    on May 15, 1919 if the demands of the strikers are not met. On May 15, 1919 at 11 am, 25 000 to 30 000 of workers in the city of Winnipeg went on strike.

  2. There are two broad opposing frames of reference on the role of trade unions:

    * Steps, roles and procedures for conflict resolution e.g. pay claims are understood. * It balances the interests of various stakeholders, owners, management, workers etc. involved in the creation of the firms wealth. Disadvantages (from the perspective of business competitiveness)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work