To understand the reasons why factory workers organized labor unions in Europe during the early 1800s.
1 class period
You can begin this lesson by reading with the class the introductory paragraphs describing circumstances which led to the growth of labor unions in Europe.
Students then take part in a fun group activity where they pretend it is the early-1800s, and the contract at the Manchester Textile Company, a clothing manufacturer, is about to expire. Labor and management must get together and negotiate a new agreement.
The class is divided into groups of four students. Two people in each group will represent management (wealthy owners of the textile company) and two will represent labor (the garment workers). The two sides must discuss and finalize terms of a new contract to replace the one that is running out.
Students will discuss such things as wages, hours of employment, vacation time, medical insurance, and other fringe benefits. Negotiated terms can be written on a form on the second lesson page. Contracts are submitted to the teacher, who will then decide whether labor or management has out-bargained the other in each group. In some cases, a settlement might be negotiated which is “fair” to both sides.
Easy-to-follow Teacher Instructions included.