Organized labor appeared with the aim to maintain and improve working conditions. Labor organization tried to use different techniques to negotiate working conditions and wages of employees. Accordingly, their efforts were not in vain and produced significant results. This paper aims to observe organized labor, its history, and application in the course of history.
The Early History of the Organized Labor Movement
The organized labor movement emerged in the United States after the aftermath of the revolutionary war for independence (Trottman and Mather 1). Local craft unions of highly skilled workers were the first organized labor units. During boom and turbulent times in the industry, they united in the urban and national federations, pursuing political goals and the reform requirements. However, only in the 1880s, the American trade union movement has acquired a form that exists until now (Rosenfeld 81). The movement the Knights of Labor, established at the end of the 19th century, created a single large trade union representing all workers (Rosenfeld 84). However, “knights” paid more attention to political reform and agitation than to the daily struggle for a higher hourly wage. Therefore, this political labor movement was not popular, and this organization was too weak to have any significant impact.
Modern trade union movement appeared in 1886 with the advent of the American Federation of Labor with Samuel Gompers in charge, who gave the American trade union movement its current features (Rosenfeld 85). He promoted the trade union of workers that was engaged in the production of cigars and the creation of the American Federation of Labor in opposition to the Knights of Labor. When the Knights lost their influence, the role of AFL has increased and continued to grow until today. Admittedly, the philosophy of the AFL became the underlying basis for the formation of the American labor movement.
After the WWI, the AFL had about 5 million members; however, in the 1920s, the trade unions faced strong opposition from the National Association of Manufacturers (Rosenfeld 87). After Gompers’ death, the AFL stagnated, and many ambitious leaders tried to occupy his position. Because of a compromise on the presidency of the AFL, William Green became a head of this organization. The literature reveals that in 1932, when the depression reached maximum depth, the number of the AFL dropped to three million people (Trottman and Mather 2). However, with the onset of the recovery period, a new era of unionism began.
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The Essence of Organized Labor
Organized labor has a twofold nature, i.e. social and technical. Thus, the social organization of labor exists in a certain society and connects people to the process of joint work, including their relationship by ownership to the product of labor and the means of production (Cravers 6). Thus, people’s attitudes are specific in each state and dependent on the labor law. The technical organization of labor is the human relationship with labor tools such as equipment, raw materials, processes, etc., and with nature as well. Admittedly, the technical organization of labor is governed by technical rules and instructions etc. According to Craves (16), the scientific perspective organized labor is a system of economic, organizational, technical, and sanitary measures that ensure the normal intensity of labor performance and safety improvement.
The organizational and economic measures include the improvement of division and cooperation of labor, standardization of methods, management and technology, organization of work and planning, as well as economic stimulus. Organized labor may divide into the following groups: (a) the division of labor, (b) the creation of favorable psychological climate in the workplace, (c) the creation of comfortable working conditions etc. Organized labor also requires the right combination of material and moral incentives as well as the provision of optimum conditions for the creation of initiatives and independent activity. It also considers physiological and social issues related to the competence of the workforce.
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Theoretical Bases for Organized Labor
Many findings reveal that organized labor functions on the basis of the knowledge and use of a number of objective economic laws, such as the basic economic law, the law of economy of time, the law of balance, proportionate development of the national economy, and distribution according to labor laws (Nelson 119). However, it is not only dependent on economic laws but also uses the laws of the natural sciences, particularly, physiology and psychology of labor. Sociology allows establishing communication between methods of work and social consciousness of each worker. Additionally, of greatest importance to solving problems of organized labor are mathematics and cybernetics. The scientific organization of work is also based on the knowledge of laws in matters of regulations, wages, compliance with safety standards, etc.
The scientific organization of labor has its own laws as well, which express the most significant and stable relationship between the phenomena and processes that predetermine the main directions of its development (Nelson 125). One should also evaluate organized labor in terms of the impact it has on the human body, the extent to which it contributes to the preservation of health, and the degree of life improvement . Nowadays, organized labor acts as a science that synthesizes the findings of other sciences about labor activity of people.
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Organized labor emerged in the 18th century due to the trade union struggle which laid the base for its existence. However, in the historical course, it acquired new meaning as people began to view this concept from the scientific perspective. Nowadays, organized labor is a set of activities, which different laws regulate.