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union, labor

Introduction

union, labor, association of workers for the purpose of improving their economic status and working conditions through collective bargaining with employers. Historically there have been two chief types of unions: the horizontal, or craft, union, in which all the members are skilled in a certain craft (e.g., the International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America); and the vertical, or industrial, union, composed of workers in the same industry or industries regardless of their particular skills (e.g., the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America). A company union is an union for the employees of one company; it has no affiliation with other labor organizations and may be controlled by the employer.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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