American Federation of Labor founded by Samuel Gompers in 1886
The American Federation of Labor was led until his death in 1924 by Samuel Gompers.
It was a coalition of many national unions, and helped resolve jurisdictional disputes, created citywide coalitions that helped coordinate strikes, and after 1907 became a player in national politics, usually on the side of the Democrats.
Trade unions of America were formed to protect the skilled laborers.
Today most labor unions in the United States are members of one of two larger umbrella organizations: the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) or the Change to Win Federation, which split from the AFL-CIO in 2005.
Recently unions have become a larger issue within the 2008 "Economic Crisis"
Private sector union members are tightly regulated by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), passed in 1935.
The Case Against Public Sector Unionism and Collective Bargaining
Public sector collective bargaining is a creature of the late 1950s and 1960s. The academicians and politicians who theorized about it and legislated its beginnings can be forgiven for having erred because they were working in a void with no empirical evidence as to how it would work.
Public sector collective bargaining as we know it in the today is a failure. There is a very strong case against it, but the laws which mandate it have given political power to public sector unions, and they will not lightly relinquish the power they have gained. Therefore, the case against public sector unionism must have both theoretical and political dimensions.
Differences between the Public and Private Sectors
Unionism and collective bargaining are products of the economic decision making process of the private sector of our society. Despite this, the National Labor Relations Act, which was designed for the private sector, has been used, with minor variation, as a model for all public sector bargaining laws. Those who wish to impose collective bargaining on the public sector fail to appreciate the differences between the public and private sectors.
The private sector is competitive; there are alternative sources of supply for the goods and services produced. There are a multitude of choices in everything from automobile dealerships to grocery stores.
The private sector provides nonessential services. There are choices involved as to what sort and how much of private sector goods and services to buy and use, whether it be an automobile or a television, or what brand of gas to buy or channel to watch, or whether to own a car or watch television at all.
Competition and the profit motive are at the heart of the union contention that employers are exploitative. That viewpoint leads the unions to an adversarial relationship.
The absence of competition and profit motive from the public sector should cause us to then ask whether an adversarial relationship is necessary or desirable in public sector employer-employee relations.
Compulsory collective bargaining is destructive of a peaceful, stable employer-employee relationship. This is true statistically (from the facts available from areas which have experimented with it) and can be deduced from the very nature of the collective bargaining process.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor began to keep detailed statistics on public sector strike activity in 1958. This database allows us to examine strike activity before and after enactment of bargaining legislation.
A study of this data covering all strikes against government from 1958 to 1980 shows that in states which have adopted compulsory public-sector bargaining laws, there is a tremendous increase in the number of strikes – whether legal or illegal. Collective Bargaining
It is time to move beyond the failed nostrums of the past into a better future for public employees and the public they serve.