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1.2: "Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions"

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    229862
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    Chapter 2 Objectives

    Students will be able to

    • Practice vocabulary with an increased understanding of the chapter words
    • Learn about opinion paragraphs and begin the writing process
    • Use summaries and margin notes for better reading comprehension
    • Read "Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions" by Jessica McBirney: and answer comprehension questions based on this reading
    • Form ideas and opinions based on information from the reading
    • Demonstrate an understanding of opinion paragraphs by writing a first draft
    • Edit and revise their writing for a second draft.

    Vocabulary Introduction

    Exercise 1 Prior Knowledge

    Look at the words in bold in Exercise 2 without reading the example sentences. Rate your current knowledge of the word before doing the unit exercises. Use the numbered scale and write the number in front of the sentences in Exercise 2. With each exercise and by the end of the unit, your knowledge should work toward a "4", which means you will know the word, can explain it and give an example. It is expected that you will mark many words with a "1" or "2" now since they might be completely new words.

    1. I do not know this word, and I have never heard of it before.

    2. I have heard of this word before. It sounds familiar.

    3. I can give an example of this word, but I cannot explain it.

    4. I know this word. I can explain it and give an example.

    Exercise 2 Definitions

    Read the sentences below. Guess the meaning of the words in bold based on the example sentence(s). Circle the best definition of the word in bold.

    _____ 1. He had a lot of pain, but he endured and went to work anyway.

    a. difficult situation without complaining

    b. get better

    _____ 2. The price was too high, so I negotiated and paid a lower amount.

    a. beg

    b. discussed

    c. steal

    _____ 3. She took advantage of her mom living with her and left her children at home. I took advantage of the free time and took a nap.

    a. take care of

    b. use someone or something to get what you want

    _____ 4. I depend/rely on my car. I could not work without it.

    a. need

    b. want

    c. get

    Reading Skills-Margin Notes

    Interacting with a text is important. One way to interact is by taking notes in the margins. These notes, called margin notes, could be a question or phrase stating the main idea. Look at the example below from the reading. The paragraph’s main idea is defining labor unions and their history, so the margin note would be something like “Definition of a labor union and its history”

    Definition of a labor union and its history

    A labor union is a group of workers who join together to ask their employers for better payment, working hours, and working conditions. Labor unions are very common today, and many workers in the United States are members of different kinds of unions. However, unions did not always exist. Modern labor unions didn’t appear in the United States until the late 1800s.

    Table 2 Margin Notes

    Exercise 3

    Look at the numbered items below that are main ideas of paragraphs from the reading. As you read, identify which paragraph the note belongs to and write it in the margins.

    1. Effects of the Industrial Revolution

    2. Coal Industry

    3. Collective bargaining

    4. Union benefits

    5. Working with the government

    Reading

    Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions by Jessica McBirney

    What is a labor union? In the past, when workers were mistreated by their employers, there was nothing they could do about it. Labor unions were the workers’ solution to this problem. This article sets the scene for the dawn of labor unions, explores the history of workers’ rights, and explains the strategies they still use today. As you read this text, identify 3 strategies that union members used to seek justice and create change.

    1Have you ever heard the phrase “There’s strength in numbers”? For many years, people who worked on farms, in factories, or in other low-wage positions were sometimes forced to endure terrible conditions with little pay. But they soon found, with “strength in numbers,” that they could take charge of their circumstances. That’s where labor unions come in.

    2A labor union is a group of workers who join together to ask their employers for better payment, working hours, and working conditions. Labor unions are very common today, and many workers in the United States are members of different kinds of unions. However, unions did not always exist. Modern labor unions didn’t appear in the United States until the late 1800s.

    3The United States experienced an Industrial Revolution from about 1860 until about 1920. People started to use machines and factories to make products instead of making them by hand. Factory owners became rich very quickly, but they did not treat their workers with kindness or respect. Employees had to work up to 12 hours per day for only a few dollars. They did not always get weekends off. In many industries, workers faced inhumane conditions such as having to bend over all day, or breathing in smoke from the machines.

    4One of the worst industries to work in was the coal industry, where workers spent all day deep underground in coal mines. The mines were very dark and usually damp and cold. Workers had to breathe coal dust and poisonous gases. They had to crawl through the mine in narrow tunnels and pull carts full of coal behind them. There was always a chance that the whole mine could collapse from an explosion. Because coal miners were paid so little, many families could not afford to buy enough food. They had to send their children to work in the mines too, just so the family could have enough money to live on. Children worked six days a week just like their parents, so they could not go to school.

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    5Workers decided they could not keep living such hard lives. They knew they had to work together to negotiate with the rich and powerful factory owners, so they grouped together to form labor unions. Labor unions used 3 different strategies to protect workers:

    6The first strategy was called “collective bargaining.” Workers chose a few leaders to represent them in a meeting with the factory or mine owner. In this meeting, everyone would agree to a new contract that gave workers shorter hours, higher pay, and safer working conditions. If the factory owner did not agree to the contract, all the workers would strike, or stop working until they got what they wanted. Many strikes occurred during the Industrial Revolution, and workers still go on strike today.

    7The second strategy was giving benefits to union members. If any worker got hurt on the job, the union would pay for the doctor’s visit, medicine, and sometimes food.

    8The third strategy was working with the government to pass more laws. Union leaders could make deals with politicians to pass laws that helped workers. For example, child labor became illegal and the government began to send inspectors to make sure factories were safe.

    9Unions were very successful in making sure business owners did not take advantage of their workers. Unions still serve many of these same functions today. Workers still go on strike when their employer will not agree to a better contract, and unions still work with the government to get laws passed. Many people across the country rely on unions to keep their jobs safe and their families fed.

    "Workers' Rights and the History of Labor Unions" by Jessica McBirney is licensed by CommonLit under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Text-Dependent Questions

    Exercise 4

    For the following questions, choose the best answer.

    1. PART A: Which of the following best identifies a central idea of this text?

    A. By forming unions, workers protected their rights and made important social changes.

    B. Children were the first members of labor unions before the trend spread among adult workers.

    C. Workers acted illegally and outside the law, so their strikes were not always respected.

    D. Labor unions were a popular trend in the past, but after the Industrial Revolution, workers have moved beyond them.

    2. PART B: Which phrase from the text best supports the answer to Part A?

    A. “Labor unions are very common today, and many workers in the United States are members in different kinds of unions. “ (Paragraph 2)

    B. “Many strikes occurred during the Industrial Revolution, and workers still go on strike today.” (Paragraph 6)

    C. “If any worker got hurt on the job, the union would pay for the doctor’s visit, medicine, and sometimes food.” (Paragraph 7)

    D. “Many people across the country rely on unions to keep their jobs safe and their families fed.” (Paragraph 9)

    3. PART A: What does the word “inhumane” most closely mean as it is used in paragraph 3?

    A. Not human; animal

    B. Difficult yet rewarding

    C. Unequal

    D. Cruel and brutal 3

    4. PART B: Which paragraph from the text provides the best support for the answer to Part A?

    A. Paragraph 2

    B. Paragraph 4

    C. Paragraph 5

    D. Paragraph 9

    Vocabulary Skill

    Suffix -er

    When groups of letters are added to the end of a word, it is called a suffix. For example, the letter –al can be added to the word education to form the word educational. Education is a noun, but when the suffix –al is added, it becomes an adjective. The suffix –er can have two meanings: a person or more. For example, the word teacher means a person who teaches. The word sweeter means more sweet.

    Exercise 5

    Look at the words below from the reading and identify the meaning of -er as either person (P) or more (M).

    ____ 1. Worker

    ____ 2. Safer

    ____ 3. higher

    ____ 4. Miner

    ____ 5. Shorter

    ____ 6. reformer

    Writing Skill

    Opinion Paragraph

    In American college classes, instructors will often ask you to “take a stand” or position and give reasons for your opinion. It is not important that your opinion be the same as the instructor or your classmates. A good writer will have strong, detailed, well-expressed support. With any writing assignment, you will begin brainstorming ideas, forming an outline, then writing a first draft. Look at the list below. This is an example brainstorming strategy for a writing assignment of an opinion paragraph on why people decide not to get married.

    Reasons not to get married:

    haven’t found the right person

    other priorities

    desire of freedom

    The list above is not enough for an entire paragraph, so it should be expanded when put into an outline. See the outline below that was created based on the brainstorm.

    Topic Sentence: Some people decide not to get married for several reasons.

    Supporting Point 1: haven’t found the right person

    Supporting Detail 1: Sharon’s story

    Supporting Point 2: other priorities like career

    Supporting Detail 2: example careers that make marriage difficult

    Supporting Point 3: desire freedom

    Supporting Detail 3: travel, move, choices

    Concluding Sentence: People might decide not to get married because of finding the right person, making career a priority, and wanting freedom.

    Exercise 6 Practice Identifying Reasons

    Read the following paragraph based on the outline example. Answer the questions that follow.

    Some people decide not to get married for several reasons. First of all, maybe these people didn’t meet the right person to marry. For example, my friend Sharon wants to marry someone who is smart, handsome, rich, and kind. She wants to wait until she falls in love with this perfect man, so she hasn’t gotten married yet, and she is now 58 years old. Secondly, some people think getting married will take their focus away from their career. Some jobs require traveling or long hours at work. For instance, movie directors and journalists often have to travel for long periods of time, so marriage is difficult for those people. Finally, some people don’t get married because they want total freedom. If you stay single, you can quit your job, move, date, and try many things without thinking of another person. For all of these reasons, some people decide not to get married.

    1. Underline the topic sentence. Where is it located?

    2. Circle the transition words. How do they help the reader identify the reasons?

    “Writing Skill-Opinion Paragraph” and “Practice Identifying Reasons” are a derivative of “Low Intermediate ESL Writing” by Heather Zettelmaier licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

    Writing Prompt

    Brainstorm for your paragraph by writing a list, form an outline, and write a first draft for the topic why labor unions are important. Use ideas from the reading Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions to help you develop reasons why labor unions are important.

    Exercise 7 Brainstorm

    Write a list of reasons why labor unions are important.

    1.

    2.

    3.

    4.

    5.

    Exercise 8 Outline

    Transfer your strongest ideas from your brainstorm into an outline. Expand your ideas by putting examples and explanations.

    Topic Sentence:

    Supporting Point 1:

    Supporting Detail 1:

    Supporting Point 2:

    Supporting Detail 2:

    Supporting Point 3:

    Supporting Detail 3:

    Concluding Sentence:

    Exercise 9 Opinion Paragraph Draft 1

    Write a rough draft using the outline. Create full sentences that have signal words for each point and for examples.

    Vocabulary Practice

    Exercise 10 Sentence Completion

    Complete the sentences using the vocabulary in the box below.

    endure negotiate take advantage of rely/depend on

    Table 3 Chapter 2 Sentence Completion

    1. The USA ___________________ oil.

    2. She ___________________ the hot sun every day during the summer.

    3. The girl ___________________ the free air conditioning and visited the library often.

    4. You cannot ___________________ with your teacher on how much homework you will have.

    Exercise 11 Discussion Questions

    Take notes answering the questions below. Then discuss your answers with a partner or group.

    1. Tell about a time you took advantage of a discount.

    2. Whom or what do you rely/depend on for transportation?

    3. What items can you negotiate the price with the seller? Give several examples.

    4. What is an example of something you cannot endure?

    The Revision Process of Writing

    Exercise 12 Revise and Edit

    Why are labor unions are important? Use ideas from the reading Workers' Rights and the History of Labor Unions to help you develop a complete paragraph with reasons why labor unions are important.

    Revise and edit the first draft of your paragraph (the one you wrote in class).

    Use the checklist below. Improve your paragraph by making corrections, then submit it online.

    • Add a title (follow the rules for titles, capitalize the main words)
    • Check your topic sentence (follow the rules for topic and controlling idea)
    • Check that you have complete sentences (use subjects and verbs, begin with capital letters, and end with periods)
    • Read your content (all ideas must be related to the topic and flow with transitions)

    Extra Credit: To earn up to 5 points of extra credit, record and submit audio or video of yourself reading your paragraph out loud. You should practice your pronunciation first and you will probably want to try reading it a few times before you are happy with your recording. If you choose this option, make sure that you also post your written paragraph so that I can see and score your writing too.


    This page titled 1.2: "Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions" is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Rebecca Al Haider.