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U.S. Labor Law and Labor Unions



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Labor laws and the rights of workers largely developed in the United States after the industrial revolution was well underway. At that time, there was a huge need for workers at that time. Machines were being built which required huge amounts of raw materials. Such materials came largely from mining.

While this did mean that there was low unemployment back then, the conditions that most workers dealt with on a daily basis were very poor. There were few if any real labor laws and businesses wanted every ounce of work they could get out of every penny they paid out in wages (which were very low). At that time the profits of big business was most certainly on the backs of laborers who often risked their lives on a daily basis just to earn a living.

When the first workers organized into groups to demand better working conditions, they were often dismissed as ineffective. Slowly, more and more workers began to back the groups who were making their voices heard about unfit work conditions. Eventually, strikes were organized in order to bring the message clearly to the management and some of the worst work conditions were improved somewhat.

Many of the labor laws in America today would not be in existence were it not for these workers so long ago. Labor unions that were once merely though of as disruptive and anti-business made headway and made their causes known to the public as much as they could. They became more and more organized because it was very difficult for individuals to seek better conditions on their own. As a group, workers could affect changes to their work conditions and ensure that some safety precautions became safety standards in the work place. These groups made management understand for the first time that they were responsible for the lives of their workers and that they were being watched.

Today, labor unions have quite a different face. Many people see them almost as playground bullies in the work world of today. Because the government now has taken on the responsibilities of ensuring that workplace standards for safety are met by all industries, some argue that there is no place for labor unions in today’s business world. The government has labor laws now that regulate the length of working days, minimum wages, and work conditions.

While labor unions most certainly served a purpose back in the day that our country was developing, there is questionable value in them now. They certainly play a part in pay negotiations for many industries such as vehicle manufacturing and many industrial enterprises, they are often thought to simply be holding their power over management and the general public in order to maintain their hold on the worker who is obliged to pay their union fees whether they want to or not. Perhaps labor unions only exist now because they were so important to us early on and we haven’t figured out how to get rid of them.



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