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LS 2A03E - A Brief History - Sept 18.docx

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Labour Studies
Sam Vrankulj

LABOUR STUDIES 2A03E – UNIONS A BRIEF HISTORY – September 18, 2013 Union Density - Percentage of non-agricultural workers who are members of a union in a given occupation, industry, or geographical area - All workers advantaged by high union density Worker Resistance - 3 generalizations o Workers demonstrate capacity to organize to defend and advance interests o Workers look beyond their immediate workplace to address issues of concern more broadly o Workers constantly invent and reinvent new mechanisms to advance their causes both at workplace and in broader political arena The Rise of the Factory System - Displaced traditional economic systems - Men, women, and children - Routine death, injury, beatings - Often resorted to forced labour Worker Resistance - Workers rebelled against abuses of industrial capitalism - Exploitive working conditions - Massive poverty, deplorable public health conditions, and social decay - Wage slavery - No government regulation Luditte - A member of any of the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery - 1811-1817 - A person opposed to increased industrialization of new technology Worker Resistance in Broader Political Context - Resistance constituted the beginnings of a “working class” rebellion against the abuses of industrial capitalism - United workers through broad-based mobilization - Promoted worker control as a political and economic alternative to emerging laissez- faire liberalism - Expression of “power” in the absence of unions - Challenged conception of social progress as an automatic and inevitable process determined by market forces - Traditional values of family, community, and economics displaced by market mechanisms Craft Unionism - Organized all those within same craft - Paralleled the industrial revolution - Journeymen organizing against the master craftsmen and industrialists - Excluded unskilled, women, non-whites - Emphasis on material improvements, craft pride and respectability, carving out secure place within capitalist system - Reform oriented o “bigger piece of the pie” Apprenticeship System - Recruitment and training - Who became an apprentice o Individual characteristics and absolute numbers - Nature of indenture - Determined wage rates - Socialization into culture of trades o “Aristocrats of Labour” - Secure the “monopoly of knowledge” Knights of Labour - Mid to late 1800s - Response to Industrial Capitalism - Attempted to build working class consciousness through education, mutual aid, and cultivating “working class intellectualism” - Opposed by craft unions - “revolutionary” in orientation Monopoly Capitalism - Emerged in the early 1900s - Auto, steel, rubber, electrical components, oil, and emerging consumer goods - Advances in mechanization, automation, and scientific management (Taylor and Ford) - Intensification of workplace exploitation as management consolidated control - Economic volatility Revolutionary Unionism - Challenged the capitalist system of production and accumulation - More radical orientation o Viewed capitalist system as incompatible with working class interests Revolutionary Politics - Strike and other direct worker resistance increased under industrial capitalism - Factory owners responded with firings, beatings, and blacklisting - IWW (Wobblies) - Socialist Party of Canada in 1904 - Bolshevik Revolution 1917 - Winnipeg General Strike in 1919 (OBU) - Canadian Communist Party formed in 1921 - Cooperative Commonwealth Federation Formed in 1932 A Note on State
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