Definition of union noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈjuːniən//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈjuːniən//
    Pay and conditions at work, Marriage
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  1. 1   (also trade union) (British English also trades union) (North American English also labor union) [countable] an organization of workers, usually in a particular industry, that exists to protect their interests, improve conditions of work, etc. I've joined the union. a union member Wordfinderballot, closed shop, collective bargaining, industrial action, labour, picket, protest, representative, strike, union Culturetrade unionIn Britain, the trade union movement started in the 19th century after the Industrial Revolution when workers began to form groups to argue for improved working conditions and pay. Each trade (= type of work) formed its own trade union but, over the years, some combined to form larger, more powerful groups. In 1900 the Labour Representation Committee was founded to enable the unions to enter politics and it later became the Labour Party. By 1926 45% of the workforce were members of a union and the General Strike showed there was wide support for the union movement. After the Second World Warunion membership continued to grow, reaching a peak in 1979 with a total of 13.5 million members. Since then the number of union members has decreased, falling below 6 million in 2012. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s industrial relations in Britain were bad, with many strikes, and in 1979 the Conservative government introduced a number of changes to the law to control the activities of unions. Unions were not allowed to send members to support strike action by another union (called secondary picketing), union leaders could only declare a strike with the support of the majority of their members in a secret ballot and the closed shop which required all employees in an industry to join a union, was ended. Many trade unions are affiliated (= linked) to the TUC which represents the trade union movement as a whole. There is a lot of discussion about how closely the unions should be linked to the Labour Party. In the US, the early unions were mainly craft unions, but in 1905 the IWW united miners and textile workers and became the first labor union. Modern labor unions began as a result of Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal and in 1935 the Wagner Act gave workers the right to collective bargaining (= negotiation by a group of people) for pay increases, and this led to many new unions being formed. The many strikes after the the Second World Warcaused Congress to pass the Taft-Hartley Act which restricted the right of workers to strike and also made the closed shop illegal. Most labor unions belong to the AFL-CIO, which was created in 1955 when the American Federation of Labor joined the Congress of Industrial Organizations. See related entries: Pay and conditions at work
  2. 2  [countable] an association or a club for people or organizations with the same interest the Scottish Rugby Union see also students’ union (2)
  3. 3  [countable] a group of states or countries that have the same central government or that agree to work together the former Soviet Union the European Union
  4. 4Union [singular] the US (used especially at the time of the Civil War) the Union and the Confederacy the State of the Union address by the President
  5. 5  [uncountable, singular] the act of joining two or more things together; the state of being joined together; the act of two people joining together a summit to discuss economic and monetary union Northern Ireland’s union with Britain sexual union
  6. 6[countable] (old-fashioned) a marriage Their union was blessed with six children. See related entries: Marriage
  7. Word Originlate Middle English: from Old French, or from ecclesiastical Latin unio(n-) ‘unity’, from Latin unus ‘one’.Extra examples France’s biggest union He paid his union dues to Local Union 98. Several unions expressed support for the strike. She became active in the teachers’ union. Some of the member states wanted a closer union rather than the loose confederation that developed. The Soviet Union broke up after only a few years of liberalization. The nurses’ union negotiated a new contract. The union represents 40% of all hospital workers. The union threatened strike action if its demands were not met. a move in the direction of full political union a move towards full European union currency union between the two countries states where same-sex unions are recognized the union with East Germany He has been appointed head of the Welsh Rugby Union. He spoke out at a meeting of the National Union of Journalists. Teachers’ unions have been consulted at both local and national levels. The crisis will be discussed at a meeting of African Union leaders this week. The figures come from a survey by public-sector unions. The government has made continued attacks on the trade union movement. The news emerged yesterday after a meeting between managers and union representatives. The nurses’ union negotiated a 3% pay rise. The proposal was opposed by the trade unions. Those affected are members of the engineering workers’ union, the AEU.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: union