Industrial Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1900- 1918

Industrial Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1900- 1918

Industrial Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1900- 1918

Industrial Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1900- 1918

Excerpt

IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, at the beginning of the year 1900, there existed few established collective bargaining relationships in the modern sense of the term. A relatively small minority of wage earners held membership in unions, and formal agreements between employers and unions were rare. The terms of employment for most workers were set unilaterally by their employers under the prevailing conditions of supply and demand in the local labor market, and were subject to change upon little or no notice. The situation was similar when the terms were set by employer acceptance of union demands, for these terms were seldom guaranteed by contract for any fixed period. A change in the economic environment, or a real or assumed shift in the relative strength of union and employer, might bring on an attempt by either party to alter wages, hours, or other conditions of employment. The relationships between employers and workers were thus quite fluid, as yet unstructured by organization on both sides and by collective bargaining agreements.

The major areas of labor strength in early 1900 were the building trades, the printing trades, and the brewery industry. Here unions had maintained a continuous existence for some years, had managed to organize the bulk of the workers in their respective jurisdictions, and had demonstrated their power to win favorable conditions. Unions also possessed significant strength among . . .

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