Today in Labor History: January 1
With the Great Depression in full force, the year 1932 opens with 14 million unemployed, national income down by 50 percent, breadlines that include former shopkeepers, businessmen and middle-class housewives. Charity is overwhelmed: only one-quarter of America’s unemployed are receiving any help at all – 1932
(Real World Labor: Economics, Politics & Social History, 2nd edition: With more than 80 articles by leading writers and scholars of the labor movement, this essential anthology addresses recent changes in the nature of work and wages; discrimination by race, gender, and immigration status; militarism and its effects on the working class; union responses to the global financial meltdown; and new forms of rank-and-file organizing and resistance.)
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Member Tip: Educate Yourself
If you’re going to participate in the union decisions that affect your workplace life, you should do so intelligently. This means taking the time to learn about the union and the issues it is dealing with on behalf of the members. If you don’t have a copy of the union contract, get one and look through it, at least enough to get a good idea about what topics are covered and what the specifics are. Make a mental note not only of what rights the union is already in a position to protect but also what improvements you’d like to see in the next round of bargaining.
—Adapted from The Union Member’s Complete Guide, by Michael Mauer