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Image created by Walter Crane to celebrate International Workers' Day (May Day, 1 May), 1889. The image depicts workers from the five populated continents (Africa, Asia, Americas, Australia and Europe) in unity underneath an angel representing freedom, fraternity and equality.
A trade union (labor union in American English), often simply referred to as a union, is an organization of workers intent on "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment", such as attaining better wages and benefits (such as holiday, health care, and retirement), improving working conditions, improving safety standards, establishing complaint procedures, developing rules governing status of employees (rules governing promotions, just-cause conditions for termination) and protecting the integrity of their trade through the increased bargaining power wielded by solidarity among workers.
Trade unions typically fund their head office and legal team functions through regularly imposed fees called union dues. The delegate staff of the trade union representation in the workforce are usually made up of workplace volunteers who are often appointed by members in democratic elections.
The trade union, through an elected leadership and bargaining committee, bargains with the employer on behalf of its members, known as the rank-and-file, and negotiates labour contracts (collective bargaining agreements) with employers.
Unions may organize a particular section of skilled or unskilled workers (craft unionism), a cross-section of workers from various trades (general unionism), or an attempt to organize all workers within a particular industry (industrial unionism). The agreements negotiated by a union are binding on the rank-and-file members and the employer, and in some cases on other non-member workers. Trade unions traditionally have a constitution which details the governance of their bargaining unit and also have governance at various levels of government depending on the industry that binds them legally to their negotiations and functioning.
In the early 1970s, Chavez sought to expand the UFW's influence outside California by opening branches in other U.S. states. Viewing illegal immigrants as a major source of strike-breakers, he also pushed a campaign against illegal immigration into the U.S., which generated violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and caused schisms with many of the UFW's allies. Interested in co-operatives as a form of organization, he established a remote commune at Keene. His increased isolation and emphasis on unrelenting campaigning alienated many California farmworkers who had previously supported him and by 1973 the UFW had lost most of the contracts and membership it won during the late 1960s. His alliance with California GovernorJerry Brown helped ensure the passing of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, although the UFW's campaign to get its measures enshrined in California's constitution failed. Influenced by the Synanon religious organization, Chavez re-emphasized communal living and purged perceived opponents. Membership of the UFW dwindled in the 1980s, with Chavez refocusing on anti-pesticide campaigns and moving into real-estate development, generating controversy for his use of non-unionized laborers. (Full article...)
Image 57Lewis Hine's 1920 image "Power house mechanic working on steam pump," which shows a working class young American man with wrench in hand, hunched over, surrounded by the machinery that defines his work.
With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men, than any other association of men."