The Labor Movement

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Main Idea

Labor unions are organizations that attempt to improve the working conditions of their members through joint action.

Reading Strategy

Graphic Organizer As you read the section, compare how an industrial union differs from a trade union. Complete a graphic organizer similar to the one below by listing the differences.

Industrial Union

Trade Union

Key Terms macroeconomics, civilian labor force, craft union, trade union, industrial union, strike, picket, boycott, lockout, company union, Great Depression, right-to-work law, independent union

Objectives

After studying this section, you will be able to:

1. Explain why unions are still important today.

2. Discuss the development of the labor movement from the late 1700s to the 1930s.

3. Relate labor's successes during the Great Depression.

4. Describe the major labor developments since World War II.

Applying Economic Concepts

Civilian Labor Force Do you have a part-time job? If so, read to find out more about your role in the civilian labor force.

Senator Jesse Helms

Cover Story,

The Right to Work

The National Right to Work Committee is gearing up for an expensive campaign to hurt Big Labor and has enlisted a major-domo to lead the drive: Sen. Jesse "the Jackhammer" Helms.

The North Carolina

^epe^ forever Big Labors power to force workers to pay union dues in order to^work ^ ^

Writing on his Senate statione y, ; W» nlaced in newspapers and on TV and lacuo, the price with the end of their political career,

Senator Jesse Helms

As the cover story shows, people have passionate feelings about the labor movement. After all, working for a living is one of the single most important things we do. How well we do, as measured by the satisfaction we get and the income we receive, affects virtually every other aspect of our lives. Accordingly, any study of economics that ignores the way the "labor" factor of production earns its income would be incomplete.

The study of labor is part of macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is the branch of economics that deals with the economy as a whole, including employment, gross domestic product, inflation, economic growth, and the distribution of income. For example, the population of the United States in 1999 was approximately 274 million people. Slightly more than half, or about 139 million, belonged to the civilian labor force-men and women 16 years old and over who are either working or actively looking for a job. The civilian classification excludes members of the armed forces, the prison population, and other institutionalized persons.

CHAPTER 8: EMPLOYMENT LABOR, AND WAGES 193

r STANDARD

&POOR'S Figure 8.1

As you examine Figure 8.1, note that nearly 85 percent of those employed had no connection with unions, 13.9 percent were members of unions, and 1.5 percent were nonunion members being represented by unions. Although the percentage of union workers is small, unions are important for two reasons. First, they played a major role in promoting legislation that affects pay levels and working conditions today. Second, unions are a force in the economy, with membership of nearly 16.2 million people.

Historically, unions tended to be concentrated in heavy manufacturing industries. More recently, unions have made inroads in the service sector, especially among government workers. As Figure 8.2 shows, 42.5 percent of all government workers in 1999 were either unionized or represented by a union.

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