business unionism

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Is a description often given to the dominant form of trade unionism in the United States, which refers to the concentration of trade unions on a narrow, economistic agenda pursued through collective wage bargaining. In the words of Samuel Gompers, an early American union leader, the objective of business unionism is ‘More’; that is, the improvement in the price of labour for unionized employees within a, largely accepted, capitalist economy. Business unionism is often counter-posed to welfare or social movement unionism, in which the objectives of trade unionism are couched broadly in terms of the pursuit of social change and methods that encompass political and community action (see also community unionism). For much of the post-war period, American unions were politically conservative and focused primarily on collective bargaining. They have always maintained a link with the Democratic Party, however, and the trade union movement in the USA has encompassed many diverse and radical elements that extend well beyond narrow business unionism.

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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