From 1865 to 1913, the united states development to become the leading nation regarding industrialization around the world. Industrialization in the US was facilitated by the availability of land and labor, favorable climate, good infrastructure such as roads, railways, and electricity, availability of capital as well as natural resources. The growth of economy called for enactment of rules and regulations to control it. Arguably, the federal government was very much involved in ensuring conducive environment conducting business to enhance economic development in the United States. Therefore, the paper seeks to discuss how the development of labor unions from 1865 to 1940 had an important function as well as positive influence in the growth of US economy.
Foremost, labor unions in the US are originations established under the United States labor laws to represent employees in various industries. They are charged with collective bargaining of salaries, benefits, and ensuring a conducive working environment for workers. Labour union also prevents violation of rights of workers by their employers. The unions were first formed in the 19th century to address the issue of social and economic effects of industrialization. Schultz, (18) argued that labor unions were necessary for the 1880s because it helped workers in coordinating and organizing strike especially when their rights were violated. Moreover, they were important because they were crucial players in federal politics since they could support the coalition that had good manifestos about the economy of the United States. Schultz, (2018) opines that between 1865 and 1940, labor union had the authority to discuss the condition of employment to ensure that industrialist and companies do not exploit individual workers. Labor unions were necessary during the industrial revolution because they could enter into a contract by drafting the terms and conditions of a job on behalf of the workers.
During the industrial revolution in the United States, Labour unions did not disrupt the economy because they ensured peaceful working environment with the workers and business organizations. They could promote the growth of US economy because they reduced the time wasted by striking workers since all the problems associated with them were amicably sorted out. Besides, labor unions were responsible for determining whether disciplinary action given to a worker was worthy or not. When disagreement arose between a worker and his or her employer, union representative would argue with the employer on behalf of the worker thereby reducing chances of mistreatment of workers by management. Schultz, (18) asserts that labor unions regulated the economy in that they ensured that all rights of workers are adhered to, and no worker would be dismissed from work for no apparent reason. Labour union provided full employment of workers as per the terms and conditions reached out to the employers or rather the management.
Jacoby (8) admits that establishment of labor unions reduced poverty levels thereby ensuring people have something to save for personal investments. The absence of labor unions could render many people to be jobless because they are not protected from employer exploitation which would consequently reduce the economic growth of United States. Nevertheless, the absence of labor unions would disrupt the economy and hinder job growth since many protests and strikes would be rampant due to incessant employee-employer disagreement. In a nutshell, labor unions were essential during the industrial revolution in the United States because it ensured the growth of the economy as well as protection of workers from exploitation by industrialists. Lack of worker protection will reduce the moral of individuals entering into employment contracts with industries thereby increasing the jobless population, but with the existence of labor unions, job security could be guaranteed.
On the other hand, labor unions in the United States had positive impacts in that they promoted higher wages for workers. Careers and jobs in the US had significantly higher salaries due to the intervention of labor unions who set terms and conditions of employment with industries and companies. They also helped employees to enjoy better benefits such as house and commuter allowances as well as insurance covers. Gompers (19) hold that labor unions provided better access to retirement funds which would otherwise not be given with absence of the organization. Therefore, they created job opportunities because funds from retirement benefits could be used for business investments which would consequently employ people to run it. Establishment of labor unions during industrial revolution did not disrupt the economy but instead increased the rate of employment since it ensured regular opportunity for salary negotiations. The frequent negotiations increased the salaries of individual workers which further increased income thus encouraging business investments in the country. Assertively, labor unions contributed to economic growth of United States since it provided an avenue for people to venture into small businesses with the earned employment income.
In our contemporary world, labor unions are used to protect the rights of workers. The impacts of historical labor unions are depicted in our modern workplaces in that workers enjoy conducive working environment; they are given retirement benefits, they enjoy medical covers from their employers, and union representatives protect them from exploitation from their employers. To conclude, labor unions serve as a promoter of economic growth and stability as well as increasing rate of employment in both developing and developed countries.
Gompers, S. (1914). The American Labor Movement: Its makeup, achievements, and aspirations. Retrieved May 14, 2018, from http://wwphs.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_10640642/File/bugge/Chapter%2021/Gompers.pdf
Jacoby, S. M. (1983, Oct.). Union Management cooperation in the United States: Lessons from the 1920s. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 37(1), 18-33.
Schultz, Kevin M. (2018). HIST5: Volume 2: U.S. History Since 1865 (Student edition). Boston: Cengage.
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