Trade unions exist to ensure various rights of their members. While there are many occupations for which there are no unions (and most of those for which there are unions fall under the heading of labor), there is no trade on The Land which requires its practitioners to join a union (per the Union Law of 904). However, unions have gained a great deal of popularity since the introduction of the concept at the end of the ninth century, and early in the tenth. Many people choose to join a trade union, which requires them to pay dues and adhere to the rules of that union, which are designed to be mutually beneficial to employers and employees alike. The head of a union is referred to as a unionist, though that term is sometimes inaccurately applied to anyone who belongs to a union.
The first trade union was started in LY 896, in Monab. The concept was introduced by Bishop Kizin, as part of his Plan to bring organization and unity to the then-separate villages of The Land. The idea was inspired by the recent introduction of indoor plumbing, which had been invented by a Monabite named Lyle, starting in 888. He began installing plumbing pipes and fixtures throughout Monab, as well as teaching others to do so. Kizin suggested sending engineers and plumbers to other villages to teach them to build and install such things as well, but he also suggested first establishing a trade union (a concept which had never before been implemented in such a specific way in the history of the Land). The rationale was based on the intense competition between plumbers that had sprung up in the years since Lyle started teaching others about plumbing; many of the people who wanted plumbing installed in their homes or businesses were unwilling to pay above a certain amount, so plumbers were constantly rushing to undercut each other in the fees they charged. It soon got to the point where in order to get a job, you had to agree to make practically no profit at all, considering the cost of materials. But Kizin said that if plumbers banded together and agreed upon a standard fee, customers would have no choice but to pay it- though Kizin also advised that they should not use this unity to raise prices beyond a fair level, so that customers could afford to pay for these services. (Another benefit of unions was that if an individual wanted to get business, he or she would have to provide some incentive other than discounts; for example, they would have to build a reputation of skill and honesty, which would be to the benefit of customers as well as laborers.)
When plumbers and engineers went to other villages (starting with the Northern Alliance in 897, in keeping with yet another suggestion from Kizin), they introduced the concept of unions there, as well. In 901, engineers and plumbers from the villages of the Northern Alliance, who had learned from those of Monab, began going out to other villages to teach the engineers there. Once again, they brought with them the concept of unions, and in each village, people who began offering their services as plumbers also began organizing unions. (At this point, there was a separate Plumbers' Union in every village.) Over the next year, various other trade unions began springing up in several villages, most notably the Miners, Minters, and Masons Union (MMM), which was started by Denari D'scendant); and the postal unions.
It was in 902 that the idea of a federal government first arose, to unite the villages of the Land. At that point it was far from clear whether or not this would actually happen, but the suggestion was made that one of the possible outcomes of such a government would be a nationalized postal service. If this happened, the new government might make privately owned postal services illegal, or else prove to be more than private services could compete with, by offering lower prices and more dependable service, since the organization would have offices in every village. This led to postal unions from various villages forging alliances, which in turn led to many of the companies which were members of these unions to begin forming larger inter-village companies, much as police departments had formed InterVil in 899. (Or in truth, it was closer to the way inter-village gangs had formed, also in 899, though some consider it impolite to say so, as unions obviously operate very differently than gangs.) This led to increased trade between villages (even more than the increase which had begun at least as early as 900, with the holding of the first World Fair). And it furthered the already steady increase in people everywhere beginning to think more globally rather than locally. When other trade unions saw the success enjoyed by the inter-village Postal Union, they began forming their own inter-village alliances. Various businesses also began expanding their markets to other villages, with or without unions.
Another important union that formed in 902 was the Masters' Union, which was initially opposed to the proposed school system. However, by the time schools began operating in 904, many of the masters who were hired to work in them were already members of this union. The union worked not only to help them get jobs in schools, but to ensure that those masters who chose to remain independent could receive accreditation which would allow them to award educational stamps for adult licenses to their students. (In spite of this, it quickly became uncommon for most masters to find work outside of schools.)
The rise of unions obviously served to further the goals of the Plan, which led to the establishment of the Second Order in 904. Even before the first federal election, at least certain aspects of the Plan (and in fact the very fact of the Plan's existence) had become somewhat common knowledge, though its existence had been hidden from the public during much of its implementation. One aspect that became known was the important role the spread of unions had played in the Plan, and it was only natural that some unionists would feel it made sense for the unions to have some say in the government they had been used to help establish. To that end, one union leader, Pavel Leveler, waged a campaign to become monarch, on a platform based largely on the idea of uniting all separate trade unions (that is, those representing different trades) into a single Union to protect the rights of all workers. This idea ultimately failed, as did Pavel's campaign; however, it did lead to the passing of the Union Law.
List of unionsEdit
(The following is an incomplete list of unions on the Land)
- Carpenters' Union
- Laborcraft Guild, which includes kilners, coopers, and smiths
- Masters' Union
- Miners, Minters, and Masons Union (MMM)
- Plumbers' Union
- Postal Union
- Restaurant Workers Union, which includes cooks, dishwashers, servers, and sometimes bartenders