The sparks of societal revolutions have their origins in rebellion against oppression, tyranny, the detachments from archaic ideologies and the human impulse to simply progress. This instinctive pursuit of preservation while self or communal has and will always dictate the core of human history. For unions and the organized labor movement, this basic premise has driven the evolution of the working class to unionize for a greater goal. A goal reached only when personal agendas are set aside and the masses gather and unite.
When you delve into the class divide and its tumultuous history (and it is tumultuous because division does not always render equality) the consistent factor is to improve the quality of life. Take the beginning of the French revolution, with the French masses left abandoned and destitute by its once adorned monarchy, to upheave centuries of royal loyalty and begin a new journey. This journey of equality realized once they gathered in unity. Unionism may not be generally supported but it has allowed the unheard voices to be heard. It has served to police industries that have exploited workers and also as a vehicle for those same workers to find strength to claim rights that were was once thought to be exclusive to a select few.
While the elements that formed labor organizations have varied, the evolution has focused on the necessity to overcome disparities. In early trade unions, workers of like trades banded together to preserve the integrity of their trade but ultimately this integrity included fiscal well-being. With the development of social economical standards, the uprisings of labor organizations were a direct result. From early societies of English workers who formed trade organizations to when President Eisenhower in 1955 acknowledged the important impact of labor organizations, the need was clear: unions are formed to make the whole stronger.
The financial goal of employer and employee are ideally the same, which is to earn and to gain financial strength. However, markets differ and some economical systems if not monitored properly can neglect the inalienable rights of workers. This ingrained edict of us versus them will be an everlasting struggle unless there can be co-existence on a fair platform for the working class.
Darwinism may not be a distant thought when it involves the topic of unions because the struggles of the working class have altered societal behaviors and have morphed individualistic pursuits into a collective mission.
Even today and after valiant and historical gatherings such as the Occupy Wall Street movement, there still remains inequality, unjust wages and work environments. Just maybe what we need to change these inequalities is what formed unions in the first place: evolution.
By Rolando Feliz, Local 272 Web Manager