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Ekstrom Library

Government Resources: Economy: Organized Labor


About Labor Unions

A labor union or trade union is an organization of workers. The union, through its leadership, bargains with employers on behalf of union members and negotiates labor contracts. This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies. The agreements negotiated by the union leaders are binding on the union members, the employer and in some cases on other non-member workers. Source:

Labor Unions During the Great Depression and New Deal (Library of Congress)

Although the future of labor unions looked grim in 1933, their fortunes would soon change. The tremendous gains labor unions experienced in the 1930s resulted, in part, from the pro-union stance of the Roosevelt administration and from legislation enacted by Congress during the early New Deal. The National Industrial Recovery Act (1933) provided for collective bargaining. The 1935 National Labor Relations Act (also known as the Wagner Act) required businesses to bargain in good faith with any union supported by the majority of their employees. Meanwhile, the Congress of Industrial Organizations split from the AFL and became much more aggressive in organizing unskilled workers who had not been represented before. Strikes of various kinds became important organizing tools of the CIO. Source: Labor Unions During the Great Depression and New Deal


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