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Encyclopedia > Industrial unionism

Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union — regardless of skill or trade — thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations. Advocates of industrial unionism value its contributions to building unity and solidarity, suggesting the slogans, "an injury to one is an injury to all" and "the longer the picket line, the shorter the strike." A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers...


Industrial unionism contrasts with craft unionism, which organizes workers along lines of their specific trades, even if this leads to multiple union locals (with different contracts, and different expiration dates) in the same workplace. Industrial unionists observe that craft union members are more often required by their contracts to cross the picket lines established by workers in other unions. Likewise, in a strike of (for example) coal miners, unionized railroad workers may be required by their contracts to haul "scab" coal. by Leon CunninghamCraft unionism refers to an approach to union organizing in the United States and elsewhere that seeks to unify workers in a particular industry along the lines of the particular craft or trade that they work in. ...


In the United States, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) primarily practiced industrial unionism prior to its merger with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which was made up mostly of craft unions. Unions in the resulting federation, the AFL-CIO, sometimes have a mixture of tendencies. But one characteristic that is quite typical of craft unions and the less radical of the industrial unions is agreeing to sign a no-strike clause, which seriously restricts the ability of the members of these unions to directly support each others' struggles by walking off the job, so long as the contract is in force. On the other hand, management may insist upon a no-strike clause as a deal-breaker, forcing a strike over this issue alone. The Congress of Industrial Organizations, or CIO, was a federation of unions that organized industrial workers in the United States and Canada in 1935-1955. ... The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. ... American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly AFL-CIO, is Americas largest federation of unions, made up of 53 national and international (including Canadian) unions, together representing over 9 million workers. ... See also general strike, or for other uses see: strike (disambiguation). ...


The theory and practice of industrial unionism is not confined to the western, English speaking world. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) is committed to reorganizing their current union structure along the lines of industrial unionism. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is also organized along the lines of industrial unionism. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) was officially established on November 11, 1995. ... The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) was officially established on November 11, 1995. ... The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is a trade union federation in South Africa. ... The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is a trade union federation in South Africa. ...


Some political parties also promote industrial unionism, such as the Socialist Party USA. The Socialist Party USA (SP USA) is one of the heirs to the Socialist Party of America of Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas. ...

Contents

Philosophy of industrial unionism

The most basic philosophy of the union movement observes that an individual cannot stand alone against the power of the company, for the employment contract confers advantage to the employer. Having come to that understanding, the next question becomes: who is to be included in the union?

The craft unionist advocates sorting workers into exclusive groups of skilled workers, or workers sharing a particular trade. The organization operates, and the rules are formulated primarily to benefit members of that particular group.
The mainstream industrial unionist sees advantage in organizing by industry. The local organization is broader and deeper, with less opportunity for employers to turn one group of workers against another.
Industrial unionists motivated by a more global impulse act upon a universal premise, that all workers must support each other no matter their particular industry or locale.

The differences illustrated by these diverse approaches to organizing touch upon a number of philosophical issues:

Should all working people be free — and perhaps even obliged — to support each others' struggles?
What is the role of the union leadership — should they represent workers, or empower them?
What is the purpose of the union itself? Is it to get a better deal for a small group of workers today, or to fight for a better environment for all working people in the future? (Or both... ? )

But some philosophical issues transcend the current social order:

Should the union acknowledge that capital has priority — that is, that employers should be allowed to make all essential decisions about running the business, limiting the union to bargaining over wages, hours, and conditions? Or should the union fight for the principle that working people create wealth, and are therefore entitled to access to that wealth?
What is the impact of legislation designed specifically to curtail industrial unionism tactics? Considering that unions have sometimes won rights by defying unjust laws, what should be the attitude of industrial unionists toward that legislation? And finally, how does the interaction between agressive unionization, and government response, play out?

In short, these are questions of whether workers should organize as a craft, by their industry, or as a class. From the Knights of Labor to the CIO, with all of the industrial unions and federations in between, the nature of union organization has been in contention for a very long time. For many, organizing industrially is seen as conferring a more powerful structural base from which to challenge employers.[citation needed] Yet this very power has sometimes prompted the government to act as a counterweight to maintain the existing power relationships in society. There are historical examples. The term working class is used to denote a social class. ... Knights of Labor seal The Knights of Labor was a labor union founded as a fraternal organization in 1869, by Uriah S. Stephens. ... CIO may mean: Central Intelligence Organization, secret police in Zimbabwe Chief Information Officer, a corporate title Congress of Industrial Organizations, a United States trade union confederation. ... A labor federation is a group of unions or labor organizations that are in some sense coordinated. ...


History of industrial unionism

Eugene V. Debs formed the American Railway Union (ARU) as an industrial organization in response to craft limitations. Railroad engineers had called a strike, but locomotive firemen, organized into a different craft, did not join that strike. The firemen kept their engines running, helping their employers to break the strike.[1] In June of 1894, the newly formed, industrially organized ARU voted to join in solidarity with an ongoing strike against the Pullman company. The sympathy strike demonstrated the enormous power of united action, yet resulted in a decisive government response to end the strike and destroy the union. Eugene Victor Debs (November 5, 1855 – October 20, 1926) was an American labor and political leader, one of the founders of the International Labor Union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and five-time Socialist Party of America candidate for President of the United States. ... On June 20, 1893, railway workers gathered in Chicago, Illinois, and founded the American Railway Union (ARU), the largest union of its time, and the first industrial union in the United States. ... Pullman Strike began on May 11, 1894. ...


One union leader who closely observed the experiences of the ARU was Big Bill Haywood, who became head of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM). Haywood had long been a critic of the craft unionism of the AFL, and applied the industrial unionism critique to the AFL's role in a strike called by his own miner's union. William Dudley Big Bill Haywood (February 4, 1869–May 18, 1928) was a prominent figure in American radical unionism as a leader in the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and later as a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). ... Western Federation of Miners famous flyer entitled Is Colorado in America? The Western Federation of Miners (WFM) was a radical labor union that gained a reputation for militancy in the mine fields of the western United States. ... William Dudley Big Bill Haywood (February 4, 1869–May 18, 1928) was a prominent figure in American radical unionism as a leader in the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and later as a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). ...


The WFM had sought to extend the benefits of union to mill workers who processed the ore dug by miners. Miners and mill workers walked out to support the organizing drive. The 1903-05 Cripple Creek strike was defeated when unionized railroad workers continued to haul ore from the mines to the mills, in spite of strike breakers having been introduced at mine and at mill. "The railroaders form the connecting link in the proposition that is scabby at both ends," Haywood wrote. "This fight, which is entering its third year, could have been won in three weeks if it were not for the fact that the trade unions are lending assistance to the mine operators."[2]


A craft unionist might argue the miners would have been better off sticking to their own business. After all, both the miner's union and the fledgling mill worker's unions had been destroyed. But Haywood took away from this experience the conviction that labor needed more, not less, industrial unionism. The miners had struck in sympathy with the smeltermen, but other unions — notably, craft unions — had not.[3]


Haywood went on to help organize the Industrial Workers of the World, which was itself nearly destroyed by government action during and after World War I. But the more basic principles of industrial unionism were adopted by the very successful CIO in the 1930s. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international union currently headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. At its peak in 1923 the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. ... Combatants Allied Powers: Russian Empire France British Empire Italy United States Central Powers: Austria-Hungary German Empire Ottoman Empire Bulgaria Commanders Nicholas II Aleksei Brusilov Georges Clemenceau Joseph Joffre Ferdinand Foch Herbert Henry Asquith Douglas Haig John Jellicoe Victor Emmanuel III Luigi Cadorna Armando Diaz Woodrow Wilson John Pershing Franz... The Congress of Industrial Organizations, or CIO, was a federation of unions that organized industrial workers in the United States and Canada in 1935-1955. ...


Industrial unionism has sometimes been considered a more radical — or even revolutionary — form of unionism (see below.) The CIO and to a lesser extent, the AFL (which was more conservative) purged themselves of radical members and officers in the years before they merged, as part of what came to be known as the (second) Red scare. Some entire unions, perceived by the labor federation leadership as incapable of being reformed, were expelled or replaced. Look up Radical in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Revolutionary, when used as a noun, is a person who either advocates or actively engages in some kind of revolution. ... The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. ... Political cartoon of the era depicting an anarchist attempting to destroy the Statue of Liberty. ...


Revolutionary Industrial Unionism

Tied closely to the concept of organizing not as a craft, or even as a group of workers with industrial ties, but rather, as a class, is the idea that all of the business world and government, and even the preponderance of the powerful industrial governments of the world, tend to unite to preserve the status quo of the economic system. This encompasses not only the various political systems and the vital question of property rights, but also the relationships between working people and their employers. The term working class is used to denote a social class. ... Status Quo are an English rock band whose music is characterised by a strong boogie line. ...


Such tendencies appeared to be in play in 1917, the year of the Russian revolution. Fred Thompson has written, "Capitalists believed revolution imminent, feared it, legislated against it and bought books on how to keep workers happy."[4] Such instincts played a role when the governments of fourteen industrialized nations intervened in the civil war that followed the Russian revolution. Likewise, when the Industrial Workers of the World became the target of government intervention during the period from 1917 to 1921, the governments of the United States, Australia[5] and Canada[citation needed] acted simultaneously. Britain, France, Canada and the United States, along with other World War I Allied countries, conducted a military intervention into the Russian Civil War during the period of 1918 through 1920. ...


Therefore, in order to change the status of working people who sell their labor — according to this belief — no less than organizing as an entire class of workers can accomplish and sustain the necessary change.


The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), formed in 1905, organized more broadly than did the CIO or the Knights of labor. The IWW sought to unite the entire working class into One Big Union which would struggle for improved working conditions and wages in the short term, while working to ultimately overthrow capitalism through a general strike, after which the members of the union would manage production (also see anarcho-syndicalism which has some similarities...) The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international union currently headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. At its peak in 1923 the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. ... The term working class is used to denote a social class. ... The One Big Union was a concept which emerged in the late 19th and early 20th century amongst working class trade unionists. ... This box:      Capitalism generally refers to an economic system in which the means of production are mostly privately [1] owned and operated for profit and in which distribution, production and pricing of goods and services are determined in a largely free market. ... A general strike is a strike action by an entire labour force in a city, region or country. ... Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement. ...


Verity Burgmann asserts in Revolutionary industrial unionism that the IWW in Australia provided an alternate form of labour organising, to be contrasted with the Laborism of the Australian Labor Party and the Bolshevik Communism of the Communist Party of Australia.[citation needed] Revolutionary industrial unionism, for Burgmann, was much like revolutionary syndicalism, but focused much more strongly on the centralised, industrial, nature of unionism. Burgmann saw Australian syndicalism, particularly anarcho-syndicalism, as focused on mythic small shop organisation. For Burgmann the IWW's vision was always a totalising vision of a revolutionary society: the Industrial Commonwealth.[citation needed] The IWW Label A Wobbly membership card The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international union headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, having much in common with anarcho-syndicalist unions, but also many differences. ... The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is Australias oldest political party. ... Bolshevik Party Meeting. ... Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization, based upon common ownershipmovement]]. Early forms of human social organization have been described as primitive communism by Marxists. ... The Communist Party of Australia was founded in 1920 and dissolved in 1991. ... The IWW Label A Wobbly membership card The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international union headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, having much in common with anarcho-syndicalist unions, but also many differences. ...


The IWW's politics in 2007 mirror Burgmann's analysis: the IWW does not proclaim Syndicalism, or Anarchism (despite the large number of anarcho-syndicalist members) but instead advocates Revolutionary Industrial Unionism.[citation needed] The IWW Label A Wobbly membership card The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international union headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, having much in common with anarcho-syndicalist unions, but also many differences. ... Syndicalism refers to a set of ideas, movements and tendencies which share the avowed aim of transforming capitalist society through action by the working class on the industrial front. ... Anarchism is a political philosophy or group of doctrines and attitudes centered on rejection of any form of compulsory government (cf. ...


References

Burgmann, Verity. Revolutionary industrial unionism : the Industrial Workers of the World in Australia. Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c1995.


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Industrial unionism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (413 words)
Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union -- regardless of skill or trade -- thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations.
Industrial unionism contrasts with craft unionism, which organizes workers along lines of their specific trades, even if leads to multiple union locals (with different contracts) in the same workplace.
Verity Burgmann asserts in Revolutionary industrial unionism that the IWW in Australia provided an alternate form of labour organising, to be contrasted with the Laborism of the Australian Labor Party and the Bolshevik Communism of the Communist Party of Australia.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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