Chapter 8: Employment, Labor, and Wages
"Labor Unions and the AFL-CIO"
Students have already learned that the American Federation
of Labor (AFL) began in 1886 as an organization of craft unions.
Later, it added several industrial unions. The trade and industrial
unions did not always agree over the future of the union movement.
Consequently, eight of the AFL industrial unions formed the
Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) in 1935. In 1955,
after almost twenty years of disagreement, the AFL and CIO
finally settled most of their differences and joined to form
the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial
Students will use information from the AFL-CIO Web site to
find out more about the organization of industrial and trade
Previous Knowledge Expected
Students should be familiar with the following terms:
craft union: labor union whose workers perform the
same kind of work; same as trade union
industrial union: labor union whose workers perform
different kinds of work
labor union: organization that works for its members'
interests concerning pay, working hours, health coverage,
fringe benefits, other job related matters
Content Standards (from the National Council on Economic Education)
Standard 10: Institutions evolve in market economies
to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. Banks,
labor unions, corporations, legal systems, and not-for-profit
organizations are examples of important institutions. A different
kind of institution, clearly defined and well-enforced property
rights, is essential to a market economy.
Standard 13: Income for most people is determined by
the market value of the productive resources they sell. What
workers earn depends, primarily, on the market value of what
they produce and how productive they are.
1. Students will restate the AFL-CIO's mission statement.
2. Students will describe the accomplishments of the AFL-CIO.
3. Students will describe reasons why people join unions.
Web Activity Answers
1. Answers will vary, but students should note that the AFL-CIO
works to "improve the lives of America's working families,
bring fairness and dignity to the workplace and secure social
and economic equity in our nation."
2. Answers will vary. Possible answers include: child labor
laws; equal opportunity employment; support of public education
system; trade policies; negotiation with employers for higher
wages, retirement benefits, and workplace safety regulations.
3. Answers will vary. Answers may include better pay and benefits, better opportunities for part-time workers and minorities, and higher productivity.
4. Answers will vary. Refer to the Web site for councils in
Extending the Lesson:
Encourage students to read further information that is provided
on the site about the AFL-CIO. What are the current issues
the organization is addressing?
For an alternative perspective on the above issues, encourage
your students to go to the National Right to Work Foundation's
page at http://www.nrtw.org
Student Web Activity