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The term labor movement is often applied to any organization or association of wage earners who join together to advance their common interests It more broadly applies however to any association of workers by geographical area trade or industry or any other factor While labor unions have been the almost exclusive center of the modern labor movement in the United States in Western Europe and in many other countries the term labor movement has come to embrace labor-oriented political parties as well as labor unions usually combined in a loose alliance Flagger 2 Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the ups and downs of the business cycle have influenced labor movements in the United States The expansion of economic activity -- bringing with it growth in the demand for labor -- creates conditions favorable to union organization and to demands of wage earners for improved living standards Correspondingly significant economic decline weakens the position of workers and labor unions and often leads to a greater emphasis on government solutions to labors problems Generally American unions had their greatest successes among blue-collar or manual workers especially in the great goods-producing sectors of the economy Flagger 9 In recent decades there has been a shift away from goods to service production Unions have not been as successful in organizing workers in the services large numbers of whom are women including many part-time employees It was during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the United States saw the true effects labor unions could cause Through powerful leaders it was obvious how much could really be accomplished in favor of workers Leaders such as Samuel Gompers president of the American Federation of Labor and John L Lewis president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations were just two of this countries great leaders amongst labor unions These men were intelligent and used their heads to get the job done and in this sense they shared many things
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