The Establishment of Labor Unions

Historically, the Unionized workplaces owe their lineage to the period following the Black Plague in Europe. The plague disseminated the labor force in Europe; in addition to the growing economic stagnation, a decrease in production increased to force the price of goods to rise, creating a demand for labor. Labor in this situation was able to demand a living wage and improved working conditions. In their need to produce, the ruling class members found themselves forced to provide the mandated salaries and improved work conditions. Both parties understood that one party needed to make money, and the other had a commodity in demand. Both parties understood that they needed each other to have a successful enterprise. The concept of a symbiotic relationship between labor and management would last for centuries.

During the Middle Ages, the fallout of the plague caused a significant portion of the European population to die, leaving the demand for individuals to work the fields. The shortage of work forced Surfs to work longer hours. The extended hours combined with the labor shortage, provided the conditions for re-bargaining between the lords and the surfs. The ability to negotiate from the position of strength served as the earliest form of collective bargaining implemented in labor negotiations.

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