Portal:Organized Labour
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Portal:Organized Labour
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Introduction

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 (or a labor union in American English), often simply referred to as a union, is an organization of workers who have come together to achieve common goals, such as protecting the integrity of their trade, improving safety standards, and attaining better wages, benefits (such as vacation, health care, and retirement), and working conditions through the increased bargaining power wielded by solidarity among workers. Trade unions typically fund the formal organization, head office, and legal team functions of the trade union through regular fees or union dues. The delegate staff of the trade union representation in the workforce are made up of workplace volunteers who are appointed by members in democratic elections.

The trade union, through an elected leadership and bargaining committee, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labour contracts (collective bargaining) with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, occupational health and safety standards, complaint procedures, rules governing status of employees including promotions, just cause conditions for termination, and employment benefits.

Unions may organize a particular section of skilled workers (craft unionism), a cross-section of workers from various trades (general unionism), or 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.

Originating in Great Britain, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution. Trade unions may be composed of individual workers, professionals, past workers, students, apprentices or the unemployed. Trade union density, or the percentage of workers belonging to a trade union, is highest in the Nordic countries. (Full article...)

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A CGT banner during a 2005 demonstration in Paris

The General Confederation of Labour (French: Confédération Générale du Travail, CGT) is a national trade union center, founded in 1895 in the city of Limoges. It is the first of the five major French confederations of trade unions.

It is the largest in terms of votes (32.1% at the 2002 professional election, 34.0% in the 2008 election), and second largest in terms of membership numbers.

Its membership decreased to 650,000 members in 1995-96 (it had more than doubled when François Mitterrand was elected president in 1981), before increasing today to between 700,000 and 720,000 members, slightly fewer than the Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail (CFDT). (Full article...)

September in Labor History

Significant dates in labour history.


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  • ... that English footballer Mark Bright was a foster child, started on wages of £10 a week, and has gone on to earn £1.2 million during his career?
  • ... that Sophia Kianni was the youngest activist at a hunger strike and sit-in at U.S. speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office?
  • ... that Marco van Basten's strike in the UEFA Euro 1988 Final was described as "perhaps the most iconic goal in UEFA European Championship history"?
  • ... that one out of ten labourers in the haruwa-charuwa system is forced to work when seriously ill or injured, and may still face deduction or non-payment of wages?
  • ... that Franz Leuninger, a Catholic trade unionist in Silesia who ran against the Nazis for election to the Reichstag in 1933, was executed in March 1945?
  • ... that Wilhelm Knabe, a co-founder of the Greens in Germany and a "green" mayor of Mülheim, participated in Fridays For Future with the slogan "Opa For Future"?

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Left pointing double angle quotation mark sh3.svg "Size alone I don't think is the only measurement for a labor union. It's vitality. Your resources are more limited, but it's how you spend those resources. If you spend them on communications and organization and political activity, you can be a very viable force with a much smaller number than we had in the past." Right pointing double angle quotation mark sh3.svg -- Douglas Fraser

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