Labor history is a wide subject that focuses on labor movement and the working class (Union Plus 2014). Its main focus is community development, labor unions, union activities such as marches and lock outs; and industrial relations. Labor history can be traced to a century ago in western European countries, mainly in the working class political movement. In the early 1950s and 1960s labor history was reinvented and extended by Marxists, their main target were socio-cultural activities in the workplace and strike movements. In this era people became very aware in working class issues such as; gender, race, religion, and citizenship. This paper traces the history of the labor movement.
People were concerned that women and non-whites were treated differently and they were mostly discriminated and segregated. In early 1980s, the Marxists approach was no longer considered. People felt that being categorized in classes will create major problems, and thus the post-modernist approach was invented. Labor history in America is slightly recognized in labor unions and in labor departments. Its focus was on workers, minorities, and women. In early 1950s European countries came up with social history to reduce the unfair structuralism (Nicholson 2004). Social history also spread to America but was not as popular and well embraced like in the European countries. In Australia labor history started in the early 19th century, it was mainly in trade unions and political activity. Most immigrant workers at that time were from Britain they were prisoners treated as slaves. Any employee that left work in Australia without permission were arrested and put in prison, over 20% of prison convicts were arrested for leaving their work place.
In the 19th and 20th century, trade unions have been protesting for 8 hours a day for the workers, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of rest, they moved around with banners as a symbol of warship and power. In the 20th century most unions were falling apart across Australia and only a few survived a huge number of workers did not have union representation, however industrial unions took responsibility and represented all the public and private sectors (Hinshaw and LeBlanc 2000).
Just like in Australia, the labor movement in America had its main goal, which was to protect the rights of workers, mainly in the industrial sectors, to organize labor unions and to make sure that employees are treated equally (Stern and Cornfield 1996). Among other things, the movement was tasked with making sure that all workers get a fair wage, a safe working environment, diminish child labor, give health covers, minimize long working hours to 8working hours per day and assist workers who are retired and working that got injured at the workplace. The first strike in America took place in 1768 in New York City when a group of tailors were protesting due to low wages; the workers were raising their concerns after constantly being under paid for their labor.
Today there is diversity; 40% of union members do white collar jobs, 30% are women, and 14.5% are African American (James and O'Brien 2007). In todays society labor movement is highly appreciated because people are more aware of their rights, unlike in the previous years. Now people can join unions and their claims will be settled, this shows improvement and progress. Labor movement has been redefined and reinvented over the years because of oppression, unfair treatment, low wages, working overtime without pay, poor work representation and poor working environment, however nowadays there is a huge improvement and awareness.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Hinshaw, John, and Paul LeBlanc. U.S. labor in the twentieth century : studies in working-class struggles and insurgency. New York: Humanity Books, 2000.
James, Paul, and Robert O'Brien. Globalization and Economy, Vol. 4: Globalizing Labour. London: Sage Publishers, 2007.
Nicholson, Phillip Yale. Labor's story in the United States. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004.
Stern, Robert, and David Cornfield. The U.S. labor movement: References and Resources. London: G.K. Hall & Co, 1996.
Union Plus. The history of labor unions and fight for fairness at work. 2014. https://www.unionplus.org/about/labor-unions/history-origin (accessed February 7, 2016).
CITATION wik15 \l 1033 (wikipedia 2015)CITATION AEn16 \l 1033 (AEn16)
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