UNION OBJECTIVES IN COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Hours of Work, Security, Seniority, and Work Rules
Over the years unions have taken a generally consistent stand in favor of shorter hours of work, both per day and per week. Different arguments have been used in different periods. In the 1820's unions stressed the argument of citizenship, when work from "sun to sun" six days a week was held to keep the workingman too busy to give him an opportunity to exercise his political rights. Shorter hours were also supported on the grounds of health and decency, especially for women and children. During the Civil War the eight-hour-day agitation was based on the idea that a reduced supply of labor would raise wages. Later Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor used the "lump-of-labor" assumption--that is, the implication that at any one time there is a fixed amount of work to be performed--to argue that unemployment could be reduced by decreasing the amount of work shared by each individual worker.1 More recently, the positive note of more leisure activities for the workers has been emphasized.
All of these arguments are still used by unions in one way or another today, depending upon the prevailing economic conditions. In 1962 the unemployment issue was dramatized in New York City by the strike by____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Labor Markets, Unions, and Government Policies. Contributors: Everett Johnson Burtt Jr. - Author. Publisher: St. Martin's Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1963. Page number: 221.