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Thanks To Unions We All Enjoy...


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In 1870 the average American workweek was 61 hours. Then labor unions organized 

massive strikes to demand shorter workweeks and allow Americans relaxation amid the toil. By 1937 unions created the

political momentum to help pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, which in 1938 created a shorter workweek and added more leisure time to workers' lives.

The Decline of Unions Hurts Everyone

Weakened Unions Mean A Weakened America

During the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century, the power of the economy and the work place was squarely in the hands of business management. As a result, many workers slaved 16-hour days, six days a week, with no overtime, and underpaid child labor was common in burgeoning factories. Half the nation's income went to the 10% at the top.

That changed when workers organized and flexed their power in negotiations with ownership. From 1938, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, to 1980, the middle class enjoyed a fairer share of the income pie. 

Employer-Based Health Coverage

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The rise of unions in the 1930’s and 1940’s led to the first great expansion of health care for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, 

the US set up a National War Labor Board, which allowed employers to circumvent wage caps by offering “fringe benefits” — notably, health insurance.” By 1950, “half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.

The Family And Medical Leave Act

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Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid

leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.

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This era of equality is often recognized as America's Golden Age. More Americans entered the middle class, bought a home, and sent children to college, than ever before.

But a slow chipping away at union power by state and federal governments through the passing of certain laws, has helped to diminish union influence, and membership is eroding.

It's no coincidence that stark income disparity has returned. Yes, gone are the 16-hour days, but many workers must carry two or three jobs to make ends meet. Many others work without medical or other benefits once enjoyed as standard.

An End To Child Labor

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The first American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention passed “a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment” in 1881. States across the country

adopted similar recommendations, leading to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor on the federal level for the first time.

Not to Mention...

Higher Wages

Nationally, union members average $204 pay per week above non-union workers.

Better Benefits

Like pensions, workshare arrangements, free training.


Safer Workplaces

Safe working conditions and better safety training prevent death, illness and injury.

A Voice on the Job

Better workplaces and working conditions without the fear of retaliation.

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Unions are often credited with creating America's middle-class, which in turn has represented the ideal of hard work and fair reward enabling a better life.


But as unions die, so does our middle-class, and our cherished American way of life.

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