Portal:Organized Labour

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Introduction

Image created by Walter Crane to celebrate International Workers' Day (May Day, 1 May), 1889. The image depicts workers from the five populated continents (Africa, Asia, Americas, Australia and Europe) in unity underneath an angel representing freedom, fraternity and equality.
A trade union (labor union in American English), often simply referred to as a union, is an organization of workers intent on "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". such as attaining better wages and benefits (such as vacation, health care, and retirement), improving working conditions, improving safety standards, establishing complaint procedures, developing rules governing status of employees (rules governing promotions, just-cause-conditions for termination) and protecting the integrity of their trade through the increased bargaining power wielded by solidarity among workers.

Trade unions typically fund their head office and legal team functions through regularly imposed fees called union dues. The delegate staff of the trade union representation in the workforce are usually made up of workplace volunteers who are often appointed by members in democratic elections.

The trade union, through an elected leadership and bargaining committee, bargains with the employer on behalf of its members, known as the rank-and-file, and negotiates labour contracts (collective bargaining agreements) with employers.

Unions may organize a particular section of skilled or unskilled workers (craft unionism), a cross-section of workers from various trades (general unionism), or an attempt to organize all workers within a particular industry (industrial unionism). The agreements negotiated by a union are binding on the rank-and-file members and the employer, and in some cases on other non-member workers. Trade unions traditionally have a constitution which details the governance of their bargaining unit and also have governance at various levels of government depending on the industry that binds them legally to their negotiations and functioning.

Originating in Great Britain, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution. Trade unions may be composed of individual workers, professionals, past workers, students, apprentices or the unemployed. Trade union density, or the percentage of workers belonging to a trade union, is highest in the Nordic countries. (Full article...)

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A Project Labor Agreement (PLA), also known as a Community Workforce Agreement, is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project. Before any workers are hired on the project, construction unions have bargaining rights to determine the wage rates and benefits of all employees working on the particular project and to agree to the provisions of the agreement. The terms of the agreement apply to all contractors and subcontractors who successfully bid on the project, and supersedes any existing collective bargaining agreements. PLAs are used on both public and private projects, and their specific provisions may be tailored by the signatory parties to meet the needs of a particular project. The agreement may include provisions to prevent any strikes, lockouts, or other work stoppages for the length of the project. PLAs typically require that employees hired for the project are referred through union hiring halls, that nonunion workers pay union dues for the length of the project, and that the contractor follow union rules on pensions, work conditions and dispute resolution.

PLAs are authorized under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 151-169. Sections 8(e) and (f) of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(e) and (f) make special exceptions from other requirements of the NLRA in order to permit employers to enter into pre-hire agreements with labor unions in the construction industry.

The agreements have been in use in the United States since the 1930s, and first became the subject of debate in the 1980s, for their use on publicly funded projects. In these instances, government entities made signing PLAs a condition of working on taxpayer funded projects. This type of PLA, known as a government-mandated PLA, is distinct from a PLA voluntarily entered into by contractors on public or private work—as is permitted by the NLRA—as well as a PLA mandated by a private entity on a privately funded construction project. Executive orders issued since 1992 have affected the use of government-mandated PLAs for federal construction projects and the most recent order, issued by President Barack Obama in February 2009, encourages their use by federal agencies. The use of PLAs is opposed by a number of groups, who argue that the agreements discriminate against non-union contractors and do not improve efficiency or reduce costs of construction projects. Studies of PLAs have mixed results, with some studies concluding that PLAs have a favorable impact, while others find that the agreements can increase costs, and may negatively impact non-union contractors and workers. (Full article...)
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Left pointing double angle quotation mark sh3.svg Nothing moves in the city, without our say-so. Let the bosses curse, let the papers cry. This morning I saw it happen with these ancient eyes of mine. Without our say-so nothing moves but the tide!" Right pointing double angle quotation mark sh3.svg — Rob Rosenthal, written during the Seattle General Strike of 1919.

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