American Labor Unions: What They Are and How They Work

American Labor Unions: What They Are and How They Work

American Labor Unions: What They Are and How They Work

American Labor Unions: What They Are and How They Work

Excerpt

The life of every person in the United States, whether engaged in business or the professions, whether a politician, housewife, farmer or worker himself, is affected in some way by the existence and activities of labor organizations. This will continue so long as we maintain a democratic form of government and a system of free enterprise in business, because organizations of workers are a natural concomitant of a competitive economy and an evidence of a free society.

Although all of us are more or less conscious of the presence and influence of labor organizations, few of us have much understanding of why and how they came to be such an important factor in our industrial and national life; fewer still have much knowledge of their mechanism, their rules of procedure and internal government. Those not connected with labor unions are prone to think of them in connection with isolated actions which receive headline notices in the daily press; union members naturally think of them in terms of what their own unions are doing for them on the job; students of labor problems are inclined to think of organized labor as an amorphous movement whose direction, for good or bad, is controlled by a few dominant leaders. These are important, but are fragments of the whole.

The purpose of this volume is to describe how labor unions, as organisms, perform their functions and conduct their daily affairs. There are a number of books on labor problems and the labor movement, and much literature about individual labor leaders and particular actions of trade unions. This volume does not deal with those subjects commonly classified under "labor problems," nor is it an interpretative history of the labor movement. There has been little attempt to discuss the economic, political or sociological forces which have brought into being the modern labor union; neither does it discuss the labor leaders who have influenced the course of the trade union movement. The omission of these matters does not . . .

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