Call of the Wild

social science

What were the goals of early unions?

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Early labor unions attempted to organize workers in order to obtain safe working conditions, better wages, and shorter working hours in the day. Some unions believed it was necessary to accomplish those goals through the political process. Other unions met in secret and did not want owners of industry or companies to know they existed. Some thought only violence would accomplish their goals. As labor unions grew, they became important voting blocs. Most unions started out trying to obtain the "bread and butter" issues--better wages, safe working conditions, fewer hours. These goals spread to include medical leave without a deduction in pay; pensions provided by owners and workers; medical insurance paid for by owners and workers; laws against child labor; support for free public education, protection of political and civil rights of workers; and the right to hold collective bargaining elections, so that the workers could vote to join a union or not.