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LABOR UNIONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
by Martha Yopp
University of Idaho

ITV SERIES IT'S STRICTLY BUSINESS: An Introduction to the World of Business

GRADES 9 - 10

OVERVIEW

The lesson explains the relationship between organized labor and management in the United States, Europe, and Japan. It describes the steps union organizers are taking to stabilize and increase membership, and discusses the spirit of the relationship between labor and management.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Students will be able to define and discuss labor unions in the United States.
  • Students will be able to compare and contrast labor unions in the United States and labor unions in Europe and Japan.
  • Students will be able to name strategies union organizers are taking to stabilize and increase union membership in the United States.
  • Students will be able to discuss the spirit of the emerging relationship between labor and management as both seek to promote a productive healthy business environment in the United States.
  • Students will be given the opportunity to think about and discuss the concept of a Global Labor Union and what they would mean to workers in the United States and other developed countries.

EXTENSIONS

Search the internet for information about labor unions in the United States. Prepare a brief summary of the information you locate.

 

ACTION PLAN

Respond to the post-viewing activity questions or statements in writing using a word processing program and correct English and grammar. Ask your parents or another adult who is at least 30 years old the "before viewing questions." Take notes on their responses and bring them to class next week.

 


PREVIEWING ACTIVITIES

Students will be asked the following questions:

  • What is a labor union?
  • What is your opinion of labor unions and why?
  • Can you name one or two labor unions?
  • Do you know any family members or close friends who belong to a labor union?
  • In your opinion are labor unions good or bad for the United States' economy? Why?
  • How has union membership changed in the United States in the past 25 years? Why?

 

FOCUS FOR VIEWING

To give students a specific responsibility while viewing they are asked to listen carefully for information about the following statements: Compare United States labor unions with European labor unions. What is unique about Japanese labor unions? How is that changing and why? What specific steps are union organizers taking to attract new members in the United States? What is the spirit of the emerging relationship between labor and management in the United States?


VIEWING ACTIVITIES

(Places to pause & discuss) Segment One: Pause the tape with the man says, "at Xerox." Segment Two: Pause when the woman holds up the sign in the factory which reads "UNION." Segment Three: Run through the end of the tape.

 

POST VIEWING ACTIVITIES

Ask students to think critically about and reflect on the following statements or questions: Name two things about labor unions you did not know before. Did your attitude about labor unions change after viewing this video? How?

Do you think there will every be a global labor union? Do you think a global labor union would be a good thing for American workers? Why or why not?

Why are labor unions so controversial? What is the basic conflict?


For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource at PBS Online! You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites! Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!


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