Social Aspects of Industry: A Survey of Labor Problems and Causes of Industrial Unrest

By S. Howard Patterson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
DEVELOPMENT OF LABOR ORGANIZATIONS AND EMPLOYERS' ASSOCIATIONS

THE PARTIES TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND THE PRESENT INDUSTRIAL ALIGNMENT

1. Types of Labor Organizations . -- Labor organizations are associations of workers for the purpose of improving their economic and social conditions. They may be classified according to either their form of organization or their functions. From the former point of view it may be said that there are three structural types of labor organizations: (1) labor unions, (2) trade unions, and (3) industrial unions.

The significance of labor unions, in the strict sense of the words, is chiefly historical, and the Knights of Labor may be taken as the best illustration of this type of labor organization. Into the labor union were welcomed all classes of workers. Indeed, professional men and even employers themselves were sometimes admitted. The labor union movement, which embraced many of the early labor organizations in this country, was humanitarian and idealistic. Instead of the strike and boycott, reliance was placed on education, social reform, cooperation, and political activity.

The trade union is essentially an association of the workers of one trade or craft. Although there may be federations of trade unions, each individual trade union preserves its own independent organization and autonomy of action. Trade unionism is essentially utilitarian in its aims and exists primarily for the purpose of collective bargaining. Reliance is placed on the strike and other economic weapons rather than on political action. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and most member organizations of the American Federation of Labor are illustrations of trade or craft unions.

The industrial union, unlike the trade union, cuts across craft lines. It seeks to unite all workers in an industry into a coherent and centrally controlled organization. Class consciousness and group solidarity, rather than a narrow trade unionism or a broad humanitarianism, are stressed. The unskilled, as well as the skilled workers, are admitted into industrial unions, for they are not organized along craft lines.

Although the United Mine Workers' union is associated with the American Federation of Labor, it is an industrial rather than a trade union. All workers in the mines, irrespective of occupation or degree

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