Developing a clear labor management systems have been an important tool for the effective management of work force, as well as continuous improvement of any given organizations. The need of labor management can be traced back to start of labor movements, where people came together to campaign for their rights from respective governments or employers. As noted from Ballot (1996), in most instances the turning point in labor management especially in US have been associated to instances of economic hardships. The great depression witnessed the establishment of a comprehensive federal legislations designed at protecting the rights of workers. The labor history describes history of organized labor and general history of working of people in US among other states across the world. The pressure that have dictated by the power and nature of the organized labor includes power and evolution of the corporation, private agencies aimed at controlling or limiting the unions, and the efforts of employees (Commons, 2006). As a response to this, labor federations and organized unions have evolved, competed, merged or split against backdrop of the changing periodic federation interventions and social philosophies (Kovach, 2010). This paper critically traces the history of labor management movements in the chronological order 18th 19th 20th to the present.
Labor management movements in 18th and 19th century
The success of labor movements in US attributable to progressive movements, which attempted to cure most of ills faced by the society during great spurt of the industrial growth, especially in last quarter of 9th century. Later, some of the progressions included La Follette progressive of 1920s, Roosevelt progressives, Henry Wallace progressive among others (Commons, 2006). It is also worth noting that late 18th century witnessed increased state interventions on labor protests, thus leading to raised labor injunctions .First, there was Tudor Industrial Code that was a culmination of programs initiated in middle ages in assuring an adequate supply of skilled workforce, as well as good quality in manufacturing products (Kovach, 2010).
In US, Local Trade Union of men first formed in late 18th century, while women organizations launched in 1820s. In 1827, The Mechanic Union of Trade found in Philadelphia was one of the trade unions, which were intended to tackle the hard working conditions for most of working class in Philadelphia. In 1843, some representatives from various trade unions were convened at NTU (National Trade Unions) convections that marked first substantial efforts of creating National labor organization in US (Forbath, 2001). In 1867, regional order of Knight founded and claimed more than 60,000, thus making it one of the largest unions in US, although it was poorly organized and soon it declined. By 1870s, there was a rapid consolidation and growth of large railway systems, leading to a union covering the whole nation (Ballot, 1996). The key unions entails BLED (Brother of Locomotive Engineers), Brotherhood Railroad Trainmen among other notable groups. All these groups were not members of AFL (American Federation of Labor) and fought off radical rivals, like Knight of Labor in 1880s and America Railroad Union in 1890s. In 1890, the US Federal Government developed the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 aimed at limiting monopolies and cartels. Later, in 1914, the US government passed the Clayton Antitrust Act, and added to the country antitrust law regimes seeking to avoid anticompetitive practices in US incipiency (Paterson, 2002). The act prohibited certain conduct, some of them were the three level enhancement schemes, remedial measures, the exemptions among others legislations. These competition acts were further enhanced by The National Recovery Administration, established by Franklin Roosevelt. It main purpose was to eliminate cutthroat competition, though bringing labor, government and industry to set fair prices and fair practices (Kovach, 2010).
In the current times, the act still form basis for most of the litigation in US Federal Government. Later, there was creation of WMF (Western Federation of Miners) in 1893 (Commons, 2006). The union was frequently in competition with American Federation of Labor, thus spawned to several federations, such as Western Labor Union, IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). In 1893, there was development of NCF ( National Civil Federation), which favored modest progressive reforms, as well as resolving disputes that arises between organized labor and industries (Kovach, 2010). On 1914, Henry Ford announced a five-dollar salary plan to all the eligible employees, who were working for eight hours on daily basis. The Ford plan was viewed as a better plan to the employees, while most of employers viewed ford as a reckless person (Forbath, 2001).
Organized labor between 1920-30s
It is worth noting that 1920 marked periods of decline for labor movements in US. In 1919, approximately 21% of the work force (about 4 million workers) participated in 3500 countrywide strikes. In contrast to this, 1929 witnessed approximately 1.2 % of the work force stage only 890 strikes (Commons, 2006). Union activities and membership fell greatly in face of economic prosperities (Ballot, 1996). This was due to lack of leaderships within these movements and the anti-union sentiments from government and employer as well. Despite the back drop of economic prosperity, employers across US led a successful campaign against these unions (Paterson, 2002). It was known as American plan and sought to depict these unions as aliens to US individual spirits. In addition to this, some of employer such as NAM (National Association of Manufacturer) used tactics, such as Red Scare in discrediting the unions and connecting them to the communism activities. The courts in US were not hospital to the union activities, as some forced to sign yellow-dog contracts, which indicated that they could not join, until these contracts were outlawed in 1932 (Paterson, 2002).
Labor management movements
The Federal Government initially guaranteed the rights to bargain and organize the railroad workers with passage of Railway Labor Act of the 1926 (Ballot, 1996). NIRA (The National Industrial Recovery Act) was a part of new deal policies of the era of great depression aimed at protecting workers rights to unionize. The controversial part of Wagner Act was the section eight that prohibited unfair labor practices on part of the employees (Paterson, 2002). Under this section, employers could not have fired a worker legally for joining a union. Due to its shortcomings, NLRB (The National Labor Relations Board) was established in order to administer Wagner Act and remains a key agency in regulating labor relations in US (Commons, 2006).
In 1930, there was formation of United Auto workers, which was labor union that represented workers in Puerto Rico and US. This union played a major role of anti-communist and civil rights movements among other notable duties. In 1933, there was creation of NLB (National Labor Board) with a sole purpose of handling disputes taking place under NIRA (Forbath, 2001). In 1947, the Traft-Hartley Act was established to revise the Wagner Act to take account of restrictions on the unions and general management. This was in line with response to demands for action, especially after wartime and post-war strikes in the Auto-Steel, among other notable industries. They were perceived to damage the US economy and threatened railroad called off prior to shutting down national economy (Kovach, 2010). The Act referred as Labor –Management Relations Act amended the Wagner Act, thus known as National labor Relations Act of 1935 (Commons, 2006). In 1959, the labor management Reporting and Disclosure Act was developed by US government (Paterson, 2002). It was aimed at regulating internal affairs of labor unions, as well as relations with the employees. This highly helped to settle industrial cases amicably as win-win situation was upheld. With shutdown in economic growth coupled with intensified global competitions after the really 1970, a larger number of labor management cooperation’s program advocated for improved efficiencies of most of they US organizations (Forbath, 2001). In the early 1990s, Clinton’s administration established a commission to look at the future of workers management relations aimed at addressing broad range of issues. Some of them included labor management corporation programs and reforms of the United States labor laws.
From above information, it is evident that labor management through plans, such as five-dollar plans by Ford among others, has been vital for the success of labor movements across the world. Across the globe, labor movements have led to formation political parties, such as in Australia and United Kingdom. These political parties are largely popular due to their efforts to fight for the rights of workers in those countries.