12E.4 Labor Organizing and the Garment Industry
This set uses the garment industry as an example of why and how laborers organize for worker protections.
- HSS 12.4.1 Understand the operations of the labor market, including the circumstances surrounding the establishment of principal American labor unions, procedures that unions use to gain benefits for their members, the effects of unionization, the minimum wage, and unemployment insurance.
Explain ideas, phenomena, processes, and text relationships (e.g., compare/contrast, cause/effect, evidence-based argument) based on close reading of a variety of grade-appropriate texts, presented in various print and multimedia formats, using phrases, short sentences, and a select set of general academic and domain-specific words.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate an author\'s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
How and why do workers organize?
This question can help students understand the role of the labor movement in affecting workers and the economy: How and why do workers organize? Students also study the history of the labor movement and assess its impact on labor markets, including methods used by unions to gain benefits for their members. They can also analyze the role of government in protecting workers’ rights to organize and strike, as well as in preventing excessive disruption from prolonged or violent labor actions. By researching data and evaluating the source of the data, students can participate in an investigation about the effects of unionization on wages and employment in particular industries, including farm and public sector workers.
Students can participate in a collective bargaining simulation to better understand the competing interests of workers and employers. One group of students can examine the struggles of workers to increase their pay and improve their working conditions. Another group can consider the challenges of employers to improve productivity, limit costs, and, in the case of for-profit businesses, increase profitability. Students can also examine relevant legislation and court rulings, such as the right to organize, worker safety, and anti discrimination policies. The first week of April is Labor History Week. Students may participate in a variety of activities or projects to become aware of the role that the labor movement has played in shaping California and the United States.
- The Library of Congress. The Library of Congress’ Primary Source Analysis Tool supports an inquiry model of instruction by asking students to first observe, then reflect, then question. Their customizable tool includes specific prompts for student interrogation of books and other printed materials, maps, oral recordings, photographs and paintings, and many other types of primary sources.
- The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA has developed a vast collection of document analysis worksheets, ready for classroom use. Their website offers teachers a wide collection of customizable tools – appropriate for working with photographs, maps, written documents, and more. NARA has also customized their tools to meet the needs of young learners, and intermediate or secondary students.