Labor Day: A Brief History of the Labor Movement

Labor Day: A Brief History of the Labor Movement


According to, early trade unionism “…harbored a conception of the just society, deriving from the Ricardian labor theory of value and from the republican ideals of the American Revolution, which fostered social equality, celebrated honest labor, and relied on an independent, virtuous citizenship.”

The first unions were local, cropping up in artisanal trades during late colonial times. Some sources say the first strike occurred when journeymen tailors in New York protested a wage reduction in 1768 before the United States had gained its independence from England. Early unions represented skilled laborers, set prices for their work, advocated for a 10-hour workday, and focused on the immediate material interests of their members.

Industrialization changed the face of America and that of unions. Rather than pursuing the immediate interests of members, unions were formed to advocate for equal rights through labor reform. By the end of World War II, collective bargaining had become standard practice in the industrial economy. In the early 1950s, about 34 percent of workers belonged to unions.

Today, unions have less clout than they have had in the past. From 1975 to 1985, unions lost five million members. By the end of the 1980s, less than 17 percent of American workers belonged to unions. In 2009, that had fallen to 12 percent. Will the labor unions continue to lose steam or will it regain momentum? It depends on the choices made by American workers.

If there is one lesson history teaches, it is change is inevitable. The same is true of your portfolio. Over time, investment performance may alter your asset allocation. Please contact us to schedule a review of your portfolio and we can work together to see what kind of change, if any, is necessary to maximize your interests and goals.

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The above material was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance.

About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™). If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw

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