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The purpose of this assignment is to help you develop an understanding of the factors that contributed to the rise of the American trade union movement. One of my goals for this course is to encourage the use of higher order critical thinking skills in the assignments. This means that we need to go beyond understanding what happened to develop an understanding of why events occurred the way they did.
In order to appreciate today’s labor organizations, it is important to understand from where they came. Some insight can be gained from reading the first three chapters of the John Budd book Labor Relations. However, I want to go into somewhat greater depth when exploring the conditions that led to the formation of labor unions. The industrial revolution led to a tremendous disparity between the wealth of business owners and that of the workers they employed. Part of the wealth of the rich was obtained by the mistreatment of their workers. In turn, this mistreatment led to the growth of the union movement. While we will take a historical perspective when completing the on-boarding assignment, I hope you will recognize that themes such as income disparity and worker exploitation that dominated the early days of the American industrial revolution played out again as recently as the first week of September 2014 when fast food workers around the country started demonstrating for a higher minimum wage.
Here is a link to a video that discusses the conditions associated with the industrial revolution that motivated workers to unionize:
History of unions: the industrial revolution
This video is one of a four part series put together by a union member that explores the history of the American labor movement. The speaker correctly points out that to understand today’s labor unions, you need to understand their history and evolution. He starts his review by looking at the conditions created by the industrial revolution that ultimately led workers to unionize. Huis focus is on the industrial revolution in England. However, very similar conditions were found when the industrial revolution hit the United States in the latter part of the nineteenth century. As you will see, rather than learning from the English experience, it appears that the problems faced by workers in the United States were every bit as dire as those experienced by their British counterparts. In addition to this rather general discussion of working conditions that led to unionization, I want to present you with two specific examples of the conditions workers faced in the early twentieth century. These harsh conditions led to labor unrest and the accelerated development of the union movement in the United States. The first video looks at the Ludlow massacre. This was an example of extreme violence that arose out of a strike by workers in response to the harsh conditions in which they had to work.
The Ludlow massacre
The second example comes from the automobile industry, in which the development of assembly lines fundamentally changed the nature of work for millions of Americans. Factory conditions were not as dangerous as the mines depicted in the Ludlow video, they created a different set of problems. Here is a series of three short videos that portray life on a Ford assembly line and worker reactions to assembly line conditions.
Part 1: Working at Ford in the 1920s
Part 2: Working at Ford in the 1920s
Part 3: Unionization at Ford in the 1930s and 1940s
One of the points I want to make early in this course is that unions are instrumental in nature. By this, I mean that the typical worker does not join a union just for the sake of joining a labor organization. Workers join unions in order to secure certain outcomes (Budd writes about efficiency, equity and voice) that they could not enjoy without being a member of a labor union. In other words, unionism is instrumental in achieving favored outcomes. In the early days of the American labor movement, as the videos show, many workers experienced very harsh working conditions. The desire to eliminate these difficult circumstances was a driving force that invigorated the union movement in its early days. You will read about these unfortunate circumstances in the Budd book. As part of this assignment, you will view videos listed above describing the conditions that motivated workers to unionize. My hope is that these information provided by these videos will bring into focus the harsh environment faced by American workers in the past. My other hope is that you will see that some of the problems faced by workers a hundred years ago are still being confronted by some workers today.
To start this assignment, you need to view the videos listed above and then write about the major problems facing American workers that motivated the rise of the labor movement in this country. Once completing this first section of the assignment, make sure that you have read the first three chapters of the Budd book, Labor Relations. In Chapter 2, Budd presents four theories of the employment relationship. In the second section of your on-boarding assignment, summarize these four schools of thought. Then, discuss how each of the four theories would explain the basic causes for the labor problems you identified after watching the videos. In addition to discussing how each theory would explain the causes of the labor problems, also discuss how each theory would propose solving the labor problems.
In the final section of the paper, describe what you believe to be the major problems facing American workers today. Then, identify the school of thought that offers the best solutions to today’s labor problems. In this discussion, explain the reasons you believe the selected school of thought is better than the rejected alternatives.
Summary of the Assignment:
1. Part 1: Watch the labor history videos and write about the major problems facing American workers in the early days of the industrial revolution.
2. Part 2: Summarize the four theories of the employment relationship discussed on pp. 32 to 41 of the Budd book. Then, discuss how each of the four theories would explain the basic causes for the labor problems you identified. In this second section of the paper, also discuss how each theory would propose solving the labor problems.
3. Part 3: Describe what you believe to be the major problems facing American workers today. Then, identify the school of thought that offers the best solutions to today’s labor problems. In this discussion, explain the reasons you believe the selected school of thought is better than the rejected alternatives. In this last section of the paper, make sure you include a discussion of the role you believe unions can play in the resolution of labor problems facing workers today.
4. This assignment has a research component to it as required by the Graduate School. You are required to include information from a minimum of three references in addition to your text books when completing Part 3 of the assignment. Make sure that you have proof-read, spell checked and grammar checked your paper before submitting it.
5. Use your APA style manual to make sure you are referencing properly. Make sure that you have submitted your paper to turnitin.com. Address any problems that are identified. Report your similarity score on the first page of the paper you submit for review.
6. Submit your paper to the Assignment Folder using an easily recognizable file name such as: your last name—on boarding assignment. The assignment is due no later than Day 7 of Week 2.
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