The Rise of the Latin American Labor Movement

The Rise of the Latin American Labor Movement

The Rise of the Latin American Labor Movement

The Rise of the Latin American Labor Movement

Excerpt

Trade-unionism today is surging forward as a vibrant element in the social, economic, and political power structure of most of Latin America. The number of organized workers has grown enormously in recent years, already reaching perhaps 12,000,000. In several countries virtually all of the presently organizable workers are to be found within unions. Thus, Argentine unions claim 4,200,000 members out of a total working force of just over 6,400,000; Mexican trade-unions number 1,900,000 members out of approximately 8,300,000; and in Cuba, the relative number is even higher--1,200,000 union members out of a total of 1,500,000.2 A few other nations can be similarly characterized. And if the percentage of agricultural workers--traditionally the least organized occupation group--is deleted from the total number of the economically active population, the resulting ratios are even more impressive. Certainly, the sheer size of organized labor enables trade-unionism to speak from a position of unusual strength--a fact borne out by expanding social legislation, labor's greater electoral participation, and other developments.

But the unfolding of a large and comparatively influential labor movement in Latin America is a recent phenomenon. Indeed, though its birth in some countries can be traced back as far as the 1860's and 1870's, the first two decades of this century marked a more general stage of development throughout Latin America when organized labor began to struggle for such a basic achievement as legitimacy--that is, the right to organize. By and large, it was not until the end of World War I that the formation of workers into unions was conceded to be a fundamental right and gradually appeared as such in the Latin American constitutions.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.