Portal:Organized Labour

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The purpose of organized labour is for workers to form "a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment".

This is primarily achieved by use of the technique of collective bargaining, where labour organizations negotiate wages and working conditions with employers. Closely related is the concept of industrial action, in which an organization will call strikes and resist lockouts. Another characteristic of labour organizations are the provision of benefits for members, such as unemployment insurance, health insurance, pensions, funeral expenses, job training, and legal services. Organizations also often carry out political campaigns, lobbying, and support political candidates or parties. Operating costs are covered by the payment of dues and fees by members, with the expectation that the money be spent to benefit the membership.

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Labor rights or workers' rights are a group of legal rights and claimed human rights having to do with labor relations between workers and their employers, usually obtained under labor and employment law. In general, these rights' debates have to do with negotiating workers' pay, benefits, and safe working conditions. One of the most central of these rights is the right to unionize. Unions take advantage of collective bargaining and industrial action to increase their members' wages and otherwise change their working situation. Labor rights can also take in the form of worker's control and worker's self management in which workers have a democratic voice in decision and policy making, the labor movement initially focused on this "right to unionize", but attention has shifted elsewhere.

Critics of the labor rights movement claim that regulation promoted by labor rights activists may limit opportunities for work; in the United States, critics objected to unions establishing closed shops, situations where employers could only hire union members. The Taft–Hartley Act banned the closed shop but allowed the less restrictive union shop. Taft–Hartley also allowed states to pass right-to-work laws, which require an open shop where a worker's employment is not affected by his or her union membership. Labor counters that the open shop leads to a free rider problem.


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"In spite of oppressors, in spite of false leaders, in spite of labor's own lack of understanding of its needs, the cause of the worker continues onward. Slowly his hours are shortened, giving him leisure to read and to think. Slowly his standard of living rises to include some of the good and beautiful things of the world. Slowly the cause of his children becomes the cause of all, his boy is taken from the breaker, his girl from the mill. Slowly those who create the wealth of the world are permitted to share it, the future is in labor's strong, rough hands."

-- Mary Harris Jones.


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