trade union

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trade union:

see union, laborunion, labor,
association of workers for the purpose of improving their economic status and working conditions through collective bargaining with employers. Historically there have been two chief types of unions: the horizontal, or craft, union, in which all the members are
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Trade union

A combination of trades organized for the purpose of promoting their common interests with regard to wages, hours of work safety measurements, unemployment compensation, and other benefits.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

trade(s) union

an employee organization primarily concerned with improving the conditions and rewards of the working lives of its members. Sociological analysis of trade unions has involved:
  1. distinguishing them from other forms of employee organizations;
  2. explaining their emergence, the forms they have taken, the objectives they have pursued, and the strategies they have adopted;
  3. examining trade-union government, levels of member involvement, and trade-union democracy;
  4. consideration of the impact of trade unions on work and wider society.

Internationally, differences in overall patterns of trade-union organization (e.g. number of unions, degree of centralization and involvement in government and level of membership) are striking; sociologists have also been interested in the implications of these differences.

Trade unions can be distinguished from PROFESSIONS, which are fully in control of the content of specific areas of work and often also able to control recruitment, and also from staff associations, which, as largely management-sponsored organizations, are often limited to a consultative role (see also UNIONATENESS).

Explanations for the emergence of, and variations in types and objectives of, trade unions have occasioned considerable debate. Fundamentally, however, trade unions can be regarded as attempts to offset the unequal relationship between employees and employers under capitalism (see also CAPITALIST LABOUR CONTRACT). Differences in the manner and degree to which different categories of workers were able to enhance their bargaining capacity accounted for historical differences between different kinds of trade-union organization, e.g. distinctions between ‘craft’, ‘general’ and ‘industrial’ unions. More recently, distinctions between different types of trade union have tended to break down, with the proliferation of new ‘market-based unions’ (i.e. accepting single union, single status, flexible working, no-strike agreements), and a debate within the trade union movement between ‘traditionalists’ and ‘new realists’. The problems currently facing unions in Britain are those arising from the restructuring of the national and international economy, decline in membership (particularly in manufacturing), anti-trade- union legislation and reduced union political influence (see also CORPORATISM) Analysis of the internal dynamics of trade unions has been largely concerned with testing MICHELS’ thesis that as political organizations grow larger they become less democratic and more conservative (see also IRON LAW OF OLIGARCHY). Conclusive statements on this issue are difficult given the various measures of democracy that exist (e.g. responsive leadership, institutionalized opposition, active participation, effective representation of members’ interests). It is clear, however, that variations in levels of ‘democracy’ are related to the characteristics of the membership of a union (e.g. social status) and the context in which the union operates (see also LIPSET).

A main strand of sociological debate about the social impact and effectiveness of trade unions has concerned their implications for CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS and whether they constitute any kind of threat to capitalism. Explanations for what are in fact usually seen as relatively limited trade-union objectives -at least in Britain – have focused on:

  1. the way in which they have segmented the labour movement by organizing around the stratification of occupations;
  2. the emergence of institutions through which conflict has become institutionalized and regulated; and
  3. union bureaucracy and member apathy. See also INDUSTRIAL CONFLICT, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, STRIKES, INFLATION, TRADE-UNION CONSCIOUSNESS.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
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In each case, my experience as a trade unionist is that Scotland - as well as England, Northern Ireland and Wales - will be better off in Europe.
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Around 100 trade unionists, many carrying banners, gathered near the site of the long-defunct Saltley Coke Works to commemorate the events of February 10 1972.
He also asserted that 1350 dismissed workers and 50 trade unionists will benefit from the Insurance Against Un-employment, stressing that there are no clear reasons hindering the reinstatement of all dismissed staff, in light of the government's instructions preventing conditional reinstatement.
Upon exiting the social dialogue, trade unionists warned that a general strike in Bulgaria could also be possible given the situation.
Former prominent Midland trade unionist Pete Carter, famous for leading sit-ins at the Rotunda in Birmingham over conditions for building workers, has died of lung cancer, aged 73.
AS a trade unionist I was extremely interested in the article on the Cardiff Against the Cuts Campaign that has been launched by Cardiff Trades Council ("Unions join campaign to 'fight cuts", Echo, September 24).
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AMMAN: Jordanian activists and trade unionists slammed Egypt on Thursday for denying them entry to the Gaza Strip for the second time in less than a month to deliver aid to the blockaded Palestinians.
Summary: Tripoli - Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi received, on Sunday in Tripoli, a Moroccan delegation including politicians, MPs and trade unionists, who started on Saturday a two-day visit to Libya.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist,'" said Yegelwel.
Ramallah / Maisa Siag - Palestinian trade unionists are being trained in political education skills under an EU-funded project for protecting trade union rights.

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