The AFL-CIO

union

The AFL-CIO is a national trade union center. It is the largest federation of unions in the United States, currently composed of 54 national and international unions which amounts to representation of more than ten million workers. The American Federation of Labor, or AFL, was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by Samuel Gompers who remained its president until his death in 1924.  Samuel Gompers immigrated from East London in 1863.  He was 13 years old.  His family settled in a slum in New York.  The family soon resumed the family business of making cigars.  In 1864, Gompers and his father joined the the small Cigar-makers’ Local Union No. 15.  He immediately rose up the leadership ranks and at 16 was negotiating with the owners for his fellow workers. Despite the push toward mechanizing the cigar process, which lowered the need for the precise and technical expertise of the experienced cigar makers, Gompers built the cigar union into a functioning international organization. In 1881, Gompers worked with the leaders of the other craft unions to create a loosely linked organization of unions that officially became the  American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886.  The current union, known as the Knights of Labor, had a socialistic outlook, in which everyone benefited equally from work produced regardless of […]

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EARLY TRADE UNIONS IMPACT ON TODAY’S WORKERS

early strikers

In the battle between Republicans and Democrats, the idea of socialism and the New Deal are put up as an example of what is good or bad about our government.  While excessive government does result in over-regulation and bureaucratic waste, unions and their power to negotiate with government entity rose out of the fact that many wealthy businessmen are comfortable increasing their profit margins by not providing a fair wage and working environment for the employees who earn the money for them. By looking back at the way things were in the recent past, in the first half of the last century, before unions, we can see the incredible dangers we still face should we ever lose our focus and our unity. History proves that some wealthy business owners, left to their own devices, will happily sacrifice the quality of life, economic well-being, the health and safety, and the very lives of working people if it pads their profit margins. In each case, it was workers organizing and battling together that turned the tide. We can start with wages. Early in the industrial era, workers were lucky if they could make enough to eat a meal occasionally. There were no minimum wage laws. In fact, many operators chose to pay workers not in cash but in company scrip, redeemable only at the company store. You worked […]

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IMMIGRATION AND INTEGRATION

immigration

From the first Europeans to cross the land bridge into North America to our Serbian friends who were fleeing the Bosnian war, the United States has owed most of its culture and ethnic make-up to immigration. Each wave of immigrants was greeted with fear and skepticism. Established groups were quick to take advantage of the vulnerable groups who were eager to work at even the most menial tasks. Immigration is not for the weak or foolish, so eventually the new Americans began to rise up the social and economic ranks as entrepreneurs and successful workers. When the Irish and Chinese came over as indentured slaves, they became the bedrock that much of our industry is founded on. From winery caves to the railroads, their labor built much of the early United States. Now, they are a successful part of the country’s fabric. The word immigration, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary means the passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence. Most of the early groups to come to America, embraced it as their home. The Japanese American Creed states that all Japanese will strive at all times to be the best American they can be. In the movie America, America directed by Eliz Kazan in 1963 a young Anatolian Greek yells to the sky, “I am an American!” when he finally […]

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Home

man looking over clouds

The extended consciousness that pours through all of us pulls my mind into the dichotomy of human compassion and dominance. In war, our young soldiers have to deal with the pain of children they recently orphaned.  Travelers struggle with the haunting eyes of the homeless while the taxi driver navigates the route to their resort destination. Those of us living in safe shelters and eating three squares a day can feel guilty about those in less fortunate countries that often do not have meals or a roof over their head. Mark Twain states that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Travel can be literally visiting new areas filled with people with different perspectives and ideas. For me, visiting the south was like entering a foreign country. But, I soon embraced their rich, deep mentality. The Southern culture is imbued with a broad, slow heart beat that swells with excitement for family, shared events and celebration of culture. Overseas, each country has diverse cultures, but have a distinct over-riding sense. In Japan, their language, spoken and written seem to reflect the ideals of the people. They are visual, embued with unspoken emotions, principals and ideals. Each stroke of the Kanji (their writing characters) can hold many interpretations–some cannot even be translated into simple words. In Mexico the exuberant and passionate nature of the cities and villages […]

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About Me

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I’m Rick Adams. I’m a traveler who loves reading and writing about topics relating to social justice.  After college, I wanted to see the world before settling down.  I flew to Spain with a backpack and a Eurorail pass and never looked back.  Living in hostels, with people I meet on the way and an occasional hotel, I have had a chance to experience communities more intimately. Although, I usually travel alone I usually end up meeting local people by striking up conversations over market food or hot beverages.  No matter where I am, from Vietnam to France, I find we all have the same desires and goals.  We want to raise our families in peace and prosperity.  Unfortunately, some parts of the world base their prosperity on the work of other countries.  As an American, I am sometimes embarrassed when asked how the American people can turn a blind eye to human rights violations created by our own corporations.  I feel sharp pangs when I hear someone in a war torn country say that the fighting would end, if the Christians in America knew what was happening. Before I begin writing about other countries, though, I would like to take a look at our own country.  With the advent of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton and the open, if negative conversation their comments have started, it […]

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