The Trade Union Movement Analysis

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“There is certainly...something wrong in that form of unionism whose leaders are the lieutenants of capitalism.” These were the words of American socialist politician Eugene V. Debs reflecting on relationship between unionism and capitalism. The quotation very aptly alludes to realities that framed the American trade union movement; the lack of major opposition to capitalism amongst union leaders, the division between socialism and trade unionism and the lack of potent socialism amongst the working community, due to what E.L Godkin called in 1867 a lack of “intense class feeling” this created a businesslike approach to striking that focused on economic . It offers an insight into the nature of American trade unions, tools for collective bargaining …show more content…
These political victories gave unions and workers more rights, limited business practice and established federal recognition of the trade union movement, strengthening the movement. In 1884 the Bureau of Labor was established eventually superseded by the US department of Labor in 1913. These organisations were to mediate and allow arbitration between unions and corporations. The government recognising the right to unionise and providing a framework in which union demands could be heard was a major victory for the trade union movement as to be recognised and supported in such a way by political establishment was an astounding success for a movement that had been attacked by federal troops in 1877 and whose legality at all had not been certain until an 1842 court case, Commonwealth vs. Hunt. In 1890 the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed, limiting monopolistic aggressive corporate behaviour, it signified a turning point in government relations with big business and the government’s willingness to limit unfair business activity set a what would be a very positive precedent from the perspective of the trade union movement. It was then strengthened with the 1914 Clayton Act, which limited the use of injunctions in labour disputes, this made strike action and labour activity less susceptible to being prohibited and was a significant success especially within the context of state governors deploying the national guard for between 118-160 occasions to combat labour activity between 1877-1900. It represented another large change in the way that the federal government would not intervene in a pro-business manner in labour disputes. In 1898 the Erdman Act was passed, with one of its clauses preventing railroads from discrimination when hiring or firing employees

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