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The roots of the problems we face today can be found in our past. So can the beginnings of the solutions we need for our future.

The labor history timeline highlights the key events and the people who helped bring about radical changes in the workplace and society. Fighting for the rights of immigrant workers has long been part of the labor movement.

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Making sure that workplaces are safe is one of the driving reasons that working people organize to express their voice. The civil rights movement and the labor movement have been intertwined from the beginning. Civil rights leaders have always been labor leaders, too. America's union movement champions those who lack a voice in our society.

Union members played a critical role in the civil rights struggles of the past and that involvement continues today.

Labor Unions

When Martin Luther King Jr. Union members marched in Washington in and in countless cities around the country.

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King was killed while in Memphis to aid striking sanitation workers. Today, the union movement is in the forefront of efforts to ensure that the gains of the past are maintained and to fight for those still denied opportunity and equality. From its struggles to ensure U. Martin Luther King Jr. Another key force behind working people organizing is so that they can earn enough to support their families.

What happened to America’s labor movement?

Working people don't work forever. Guides are a feature of theSkimm App that make it easier to go down a rabbit hole on the biggest issues in your newsfeed. They go beyond what you see in the Daily Skimm to give you the history and context of everything from climate change to artificial intelligence to the rising cost of college. Plus, they include exclusive audio stories just for app subscribers.

You got it. Labor unions are groups of workers that band together on work-related decisions think: hours, wages through collective bargaining.

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Members pay dues that go towards things like representation, political campaigns, and paying union leaders and staff. The idea dates back as far as the s, when printers in New York joined forces to ask for a wage increase. Enter: the Industrial Revolution. The uptick in mass production meant more jobs.

Plus an influx of immigrants coming to the US meant more people willing to take on those jobs. These circumstances created a power gap between employees and their bosses, who could get away with paying workers low wages and forcing them to work long hours.


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So workers started to fight back through labor organizations. Union membership hit its peak by , when about one in three Americans were part of one. Though union membership has gone down in recent decades, there are still millions of people in the US who belong to unions. Here are some of the reasons you may have heard about them lately:.


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