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White Collar Union: Facts and Figures in Retrospect

by Expert Lilliana | 12 May 2017

When one says the term “white-collar worker”, it always refers to a laborer given a specific salary whose job revolves on anything that is clerical in nature. White collar unions, then, are groups of salaried professionals who are not inclined with manual labor. White collar unions have an interesting history. It was in the United States when white collar jobs became pronounced. From 1900 to 1998, a dramatic increase of 59.4% existed, showing how wide and popular white collar unions has gone for the past few years. This increase has been optimized by the changes in the economic structure of the United States and the technological revolution that took place in the said country. In 2002, white collar unions massively grew. A total of 66,000 white-collar workers decided to join white collar unions. Because of the organized labor and the fast-growing ranks of the workers combined, the record of 66,000 white collar workers seem to increase to 11 million by 2010. This observation is seen by AFL-CIO or the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations – the biggest federation of unions in America and is a recognized national union trade center (Green, 2003).

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Today, there are around six million white collar unions in the United States with a membership of 13 million. Companies running their businesses with the help of white collar workers can be downsized, but as this happens, white collar unions are upsized. White collar unions are made of forest rangers, journalists, musicians, attorneys, engineers, teachers, doctors and nurses among many others. Out of the overall workforce of the United States alone, over 60% of it is made of white collar workers (Green, 2003).

These records can be supported by a lot of examples and here are among the many unmentioned groups:

While the popularity of white collar unions became evident in the past years, these groups existed decades ago. In as early as 1896, a white collar union called MPU or Medical Practitioner's Union was founded. It was first referred to as the Incorporated Medical Practitioner's Association or IPMA in 1914before it became MPU. This group developed through the years until it 1937 came and the MPU became affiliated to the TUC. In 1970, a part of its members, approximately 5,520 members, became a part of the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs or ASTMS.

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In 1917, another white collar union was born by the name of Amalgamated Managers' and Foremen's Association. This group was founded in Darlington. While it was a short-lived white collar union, it merged with the NFA or National Foremen's Association in 1925 to revive its life.

It can be easily said that 1917 is indeed the year for white collar unions because it was also the year when ASSET, or Association of Supervisory Staffs, Executives and Technicians was born. ASSET will always be remembered as a white collar group because it was the first group that forwarded a Private Members Bill in Parliament to become a law. It didn't take too long until ASSET merged with ASTMS or Association of Scientific,

Technical and Managerial Staffs. ASTMS was formed in 1968 and was first known as AScW or Association of Scientific Workers. ASTMS was a large white collar union made of 90,000 white collar workers. The secret to its impressive expansion was continuous encouragement of small unions to merge with the bigger ones and of course, the power of active recruitment. In 1988, ASTMS was one of the most successful white collar unions in the world, giving a home to over 400,000 white collar workers. It soon merged with TASS and paved the way to the founding of MSF. MSF, short for “Manufacturing, Science, Finance” merged with ASTMS (Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs) in 1988. In 2002, a full turn was witnessed in the history of white collar unions when MSR united with AEEU. With this, Amicus, another white collar union, was formed (Unite the Union, 2007).

Reference

  • Green, C. (October 7, 2003). White-Collar Workers Flocking to Unions; Professionals Now Approaching Half of AFL-CIO Union Membership. Working Life. 
  • Unite the Union. (2007). The White Collar Unions.
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