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Labor Union History in Califor

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Labor Union History in Califor

By: Daniel Olmos

E-mail: agentolmos

The various labor movements in California have been among the most important in our nation. As a state with a tremendously diversified economy, California's workers are employed in every industry imaginable; from our huge agriculture base, to our docks, to aerospace, to construction, to the entertainment industry-the list is endless. And in each industry, workers struggled to organize themselves into collectives to shape the labor landscape of California. Some of California's labor movements have represented significant political events on a national if not a global scale-as in the historic struggle of labor activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. The gains made be the United Farm Workers inspired workers every where to fight for living wages and reasonable working conditions, and it proved that poor people can claim their rights when they organize and speak in one voice. In a word, labor unions equal POWER. But it didn't start with Chavez. In 1894, California held its first strike organized by San Francisco and Sacramento Carpenters who pushed for a whole sixteen dollars a day. Well, they settled for fourteen. However, a year later the first official union was organized in California, the San Francisco Typography Society. Formed by printers at the Alta California newspaper, the San Francisco Typography opposed a wage cut and in no time the power of collective bargaining overwhelmed its first obstacle. The first of many. Unions thrived for several decades after, sending a sonic boom of labor reform across the nation. Working conditions improved and wages increased. Life in America as we knew it over took a change of titanic proportions, for the better, of course. Despite all this success, in October 1929, the New York stock market crashed, and the value of stocks declined. People lost their jobs, their farms and their businesses. By 1932, 13 million men and women were unemployed. In the past, depressions had usually hurt unions. Unemployment meant a sharp drop in workers' dues, then unions became almost powerless to prevent decreases in wages or long working hours. Nonetheless, the Great Depression of the 1930s actually benefited unions. In 1932 a man by the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President. Roosevelt, taking the leadership of the all but paralyzed nation on March 4, 1933, (The Presidential Honeymoon), undertook a number of programs designed to recharge the economy, feed the unemployed and restore confidence. At his urging, Congress passed the Wagner Act which guaranteed workers the right to join unions and bargain collectively. As a result, the law created a powerful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Although it had no real enforcement capabilities, the ...

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Keywords: california union history, was california part of the union, california labor history, union labor history, union city history

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