Labor Needs to Continue to Stand United
Labor unions were first formed in 18th century Britain during a period of rapid industrial growth and an increasing need for unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Prior to their formation, collective bargaining had been outlawed, formally, since the 14th century.
The first American union which represented workers of multiple industries and trades was the Mechanics' Union Trade Association, in Philadelphia. Workers across Philadelphia protested working hours and pay wages by going on strike. This was followed by the formation of other unions through industries, regions, and cities- Grand National Consolidated Trade Union, National Labor Union, the Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor, ect.
In 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organization merged to form the modern AFL-CIO. At the time of the merge, AFL-CIO was 16 million members strong.
Instead of going into too much detail on the history of the formation of unions, here is a listing of the benefits that American workers now enjoy because of the efforts of labor unions- the 40-hour work week, overtime, paid vacation, pensions, the 8-hour work day, sick leave, employer-paid health insurance, safety laws to protect workers, higher wages, and fair promotion policies.
In November 2011, we made history in the state of Ohio. After a Republican House, Senate, and Governor passed Senate Bill 5 in a direct attack on collective bargaining, we were able to organize a massive effort state-wide to defend Ohio workers. We showed politicians in Columbus and Washington DC that Ohioans will defend each other and will stand together in solidarity if attacked.
Labor needs to continue to stand united. Every American worker deserves the opportunity to join a union regardless of industry and region. What we saw in Ohio proves that the fight is not over and that enemies of American workers are still making an effort to eliminate benefits fought for by unions. Get informed, get involved, and let's get to work ensuring that the next generation of workers have the rights fought for by previous generations.