A trade union that organizes the members of a skilled manual occupation, such as boilermakers, compositors, electricians, engineers, or woodworkers. The primary method of craft unions has been control of labour supply through the apprenticeship system and the pre-entry closed shop, which in the nineteenth century provided the basis for the unilateral setting of wages and conditions. In the UK, craft unions have traditionally been highly democratic in their internal government but elitist and exclusionary with regard to the less skilled. Technical change has eroded the basis of craft unionism in most industries and craft unions today have largely disappeared or been absorbed within larger unions that recruit across occupational boundaries.
Subjects: Human Resource Management.