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Thread: Unions
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Old 2012-04-24, 05:38 AM   [Ignore Me] #60
Lieutenant General
Re: Unions

Originally Posted by Noivad View Post
Actually It was not a Guild it was a Union, one of the oldest types in fact it was A Construction Labor Union local 767 in south Florida. I was an apprentise, and learned how to be a laborer for a few different trades like Carpentry, Plumber, and Sheet Rock installers on High Rise buildings. I paid dues, went to the union hall for work, ect. We called non union people scabs. We only worked on Union Jobs. I got paid well, a lot more then scabs who did the same types of work on non union jobs. I received training in various construction work from the bottom up. If I had stayed with it I could have gotten into one of the Main Unions.
Perhaps it was called an union, but the way you described it is not quite a "normal" union. Unions are political organizations to back up workers, not organizations that train workers as apprentices. But you could be right.

Possibly that union was set up with the old guild system in mind though, especially if it was intended for carpenting, plumbing and smith works which were traditionally strong guilds. Guilds are interest groups of specific craftsmen and the attitude towards people from outside of the guild is also quite typical: only those within the local guild are accepted, others of the same trade but outside the union were typically shunned as 'illegal' rivals. In contrast to earlier forms of unions, it was obligated to join a guild in order to even practice a particular craft. The guilds were, beyond a form of union, a means to completely regulate the market.

Not sure if you're aware of the history of guilds, but in Europe these ran and dominated cities together. A lot of guilds had their own militias even up to the end of the 18th century.

Basically (and given Malorn's concerns with paranoia regarding market regulation, quite ironically), they were capitalist cartels motivated solely by self-interest. Governments in those days were very decentralised (cities ran the local area) and the ruling classes in the city and townships, meant basically the leaders of the wealthiest guilds. They dominated everything out of self-interest up to the point that new inventions were outlawed because not the entire guild could profit from it - if innovation was done outside of the guild a lot of pressure was enacted to get them into the guild or simply stop. Furthermore, people within a guild had to think alike.

Guilds existing well into the 19th century in Eastern Europe has been seen as one of the reasons that these areas were not industrialised as much as the west and therefore economically fell behind.

So one could argue that the smaller the central government and the more power to the local government and private owners, free trade is actually at risk. At least locally. Especially the western dutch shipping guilds profited immensily from the dutch international free trade doctrine, where a lot of other guilds were far more mercantile (examples of mercantile factions within Europe were The Hansa and Ligurian and Venetian trade leagues) and had trouble competing elsewhere.

Now that we got to the topic of free trade. Some funny things about free trade:

Economists that advocated free trade believed trade was the reason why certain civilizations prospered economically. Adam Smith, for example, pointed to increased trading as being the reason for the flourishing of not just Mediterranean cultures such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, but also of Bengal (East India) and China. The great prosperity of the Netherlands after throwing off Spanish Imperial rule and pursuing a policy of free trade[9] made the free trade/mercantilist dispute the most important question in economics for centuries. Free trade policies have battled with mercantilist, protectionist, isolationist, communist, populist, and other policies over the centuries.
Trade in colonial America was regulated by the British mercantile system through the Acts of Trade and Navigation. Until the 1760s, few colonists openly advocated for free trade, in part because regulations were not strictly enforced—New England was famous for smuggling—but also because colonial merchants did not want to compete with foreign goods and shipping. According to historian Oliver Dickerson, a desire for free trade was not one of the causes of the American Revolution. "The idea that the basic mercantile practices of the eighteenth century were wrong," wrote Dickerson, "was not a part of the thinking of the Revolutionary leaders".[16] Free trade came to what would become the United States as a result of American Revolutionary War, when the British Parliament issued the Prohibitory Act, blockading colonial ports. The Continental Congress responded by effectively declaring economic independence, opening American ports to foreign trade on April 6, 1776. According to historian John W. Tyler, "Free trade had been forced on the Americans, like it or not."[17]
It gets funnier here:

The fledgling Republican Party led by Abraham Lincoln, who called himself a "Henry Clay tariff Whig", strongly opposed free trade and implemented a 44-percent tariff during the Civil War—in part to pay for railroad subsidies and for the war effort, and to protect favored industries.[18] William McKinley (later to become President of the United States) stated the stance of the Republican Party (which won every election for President from 1868 until 1912, except the two non-consecutive terms of Grover Cleveland) as thus:

Under free trade the trader is the master and the producer the slave. Protection is but the law of nature, the law of self-preservation, of self-development, of securing the highest and best destiny of the race of man. [It is said] that protection is immoral…. Why, if protection builds up and elevates 63,000,000 [the U.S. population] of people, the influence of those 63,000,000 of people elevates the rest of the world. We cannot take a step in the pathway of progress without benefitting mankind everywhere. Well, they say, ‘Buy where you can buy the cheapest'…. Of course, that applies to labor as to everything else. Let me give you a maxim that is a thousand times better than that, and it is the protection maxim: ‘Buy where you can pay the easiest.' And that spot of earth is where labor wins its highest rewards.[19]

On the other side:

The growing Free Trade Movement sought an end to the tariffs and corruption in state and federal governments by every means available to them, leading to several outcomes. The first and most important was the rise of the Democratic Party with Grover Cleveland at its helm. The next most important were the rise of the "Mugwumps" within the Republican party. For many Jeffersonian radicals, neither went far enough or sufficiently effective in their efforts and looked for alternatives. The first major movement of the radical Jeffersonians evolved from the insights of a young journalist and firebrand, Henry George.
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