Alexandra L. Bolden was awarded the Luther C. Yopp, Jr. Academic Scholarship by Wilson & Hajek for her essay on “Railroad Unions in America”.  Her essay:

Why Are Unions Good

Besides voting, American unions have been the pride and symbol of a free country.  Since the industrial revolutions in Europe and in American, unions have preserved the rights of its workers.  American unions have played a part in American politics, often being critical players in winning elections.

In 1797 with the glass workers, profit sharing was first developed.  With ten percent wage cuts, distrust of capitalist, and poor working conditions for American railway workers led to the Great Strike of l877.  After the Great Strike of 1877, which halted America’s railways, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers was founded.  The union was the first for railway workers.  Many blamed the riots of 1877 on capitalism without social insurance.

A prime example of the lack of social insurance would be when my great grandfather (a steel mill worker) developed lung cancer.  After developing lung cancer, my grandfather passed away.  If there had been a strong labor union, maybe health insurance would have not been an issue and if he still passed away from cancer, a union would have establish benefits that would have supported his wife and children.  Most importantly, a union would have made sure that my great grandfather had good working conditions so he would have not developed cancer in the first place.

Unions are set up to protect the rights of its workers.  Unions demand good working conditions, good insurance to keep its workers and their families healthy.  And most significantly, they hold major companies accountable for any injury or death caused by the job at hand.

Alexandra L. Bolden

Howard University

Human Development ’11

School of Education Student Council President 2010-2011

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