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

How far was the development of trade union rights hindered by divisions within the American trade union movements 1865-1980?

Extracts from this document...


How far was the development of trade union rights hindered by divisions within the American trade union movements 1865-1980? Throughout the twentieth century, running parallel to the struggle for civil rights in politics, education and many other aspects of life was the fight for rights in labour and labour relations. Workers had very little or no rights when working in America in the early to mid 1800's; however, by the twentieth century this had changed for the better, with women and the ethnic minorities' position greatly strengthened. Unfortunately, in the l970's and 1980's the trade union movement and ultimately membership had decreased drastically in popularity with the new breed of workers either choosing or being persuaded to reject organized labour. The nature and composition of the workforce was itself significant. From the 1830's, many industries depended on unskilled immigrant labour. This was increasingly cheap and plentiful; even more so following the end of slavery in 1863 many blacks entered the industrial workforce. This now multicultural workforce which included Europeans was critical, as workers were divided by language, religion, and were treated with hostility and suspicion by white, native born Americans. Both the immigrant and white workforce refused to work with the blacks. ...read more.


As early as 1869, blacks had begun to form their own unions. The National Negro Labour Union was founded in that year and attempted and unsuccessfully, to affiliate with white skilled unions. The blacks made various attempts to unify, for example, A. Philip Randolph's BSCP, however, this usually failed. It seemed the workers had much opposition; however, the white's ignorance in not uniting caused them greater problems in the long term, since there were so many groups with differing objectives. Fortunately in 1935, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) formed, and was actively committed to organising labour, regardless of race and indeed, broke down racial barriers to unite labour and to some degree of success. The years of the First World War saw a slight improvement in the position of trade unions. In spite of the racial tensions caused by the influx of immigrant and African American labour into northern industrial areas, the needs of the war and the opportunities it offered to industrialists encouraged a more conciliatory policy towards unions. Nonetheless, the Great Depression made the situation disastrous for labour workers with factory closures and bankruptcy for many businesses, thus, a recovery was necessary and new initiatives were introduced to aid this recovery and these had a great effect on trade union members. ...read more.


The union was destroyed and this ultimately led to the death of organised strikes on the national scale and essentially, ended the entire trade union movement. In conclusion, it is necessary to state immediately that the trade union movement and its rights were greatly hindered. Undoubtedly and undeniably divisions within the movement affected success. These divisions impeded the development of unity and solidarity that labour needed in order to assert its rights and be recognised. At the same time, workers also remained tightly controlled by legislation that established the parameters of acceptable union activity. Organized labour was vulnerable to political swings and fortunes as well as economic change. From the 1960's, trade unions were in decline, initially as a result of the advent of new industries that ultimately reduced the numbers of workers in traditional industries and consequently, in their unions. The right wing policies of Ronald Reagan after 1981 strengthened the position of employers and further weakened the unions. Finally, it is clear that the faults of the union members were great but it would be foolhardy to overlook the role of other factors, (as mentioned above) for their role was just as great and important as the failings of the workers themselves. ...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. Trade Union

    The main service a union provides for its members is negotiation and representation. There are other benefits people get from being members of trade unions. * Negotiation * Representation * Information and advice * Member services Negotiation Trade unions are most closely associated with negotiating with the employers of a

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

    1970 when 3906 strikes were called, more than ten new strikes every day. Between 1980 and 1998, however, strike frequency declined. Mass unemployment and industrial closures weakened the heartlands of union organisation. In a series of key strikes influential unions such as steel 1981, miners 1984 and P&O 1988 were

  1. Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

    The events on the 1st and 2nd May were the trigger causes of the General Strike, the first of these events was on the 1st of May when the miners got locked out of their mines by the owners. This meant over a million men were out of work.

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

    master and servant legislation, which made it a criminal offence for a worker to break his contract, while for his employer it was only a civil offence. 1850 > 1880 - Amalgamations and legal changes > Growth of railways meant communication was made easier and amalgamations (union/merger)

  1. Select any ONE U.K.trade union. Explore their current levels of membership, and services for ...

    longstanding Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution (of 1918), with its emphasis on 'common ownership' - part of his 'New Labour' project. It was replaced by a weaker formulation that also embraced 'the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition'.

  2. Employee Relations and Trade Union Recognition Within The Catering Sector.

    Also managers take very little time and consideration when hiring and firing employees. Employees are often recommended by personal friends and business acquaintances or purely by asking if there are any vacancies at reception. This normally means a new employee is only hired on a trial basis.

  1. Is the strike no longer necessary?

    use of injunctions for example, which has discouraged many individuals from taking strike action, thereby indicating that strikes are no longer necessary. (Rose, 2001) The 'flexible' labour market also suggests that strikes are no longer necessary. In recent years, the employment of women, part-timers and temporary workers has severely increased.

  2. Account for the development of Trade Unions for the unskilled

    The revival of socialism was also important to the development of trade unions for the unskilled as a number of individual socialists inspired a number of the strikes which took place during the 1880s. The successful strikes which took place in 1888-9 saw the turning point for the unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

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