The History of Omaha's Labor Unions

#Freedomtainment #HeartlandWorkforceSolutions #LaborUnion #LevelUp #LevelUpCareerFair #OmahaSkillsConnection #OmahaUnion #Union

By: A student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson's Service Learning class.

What is a Labor Union?

A labor union or trade union is a group of employees within a trade who band together to obtain higher standards for their fellow workers. Members of the unions unite to make decisions affecting their working conditions. Unions strive to bring economic justice to their trade. Labor unions are created to protect and advance the rights of the workers within their profession.


The First Union in Omaha

In the year 1900, Omaha’s bakers were working in “dungeon-like” basements around the scorching ovens for ten to seventeen hours a day. These hard-working professionals were only bringing home $10 a week. Across the city of Omaha bakers walked out leaving the businesses without any trained bakers. These businesses would have failed without the trained bakers. These employees band together to create the first labor union in Omaha. They demanded bakery owners to create better work environments, higher wages, and shorter workdays. With the bakery businesses bleeding across Omaha, owners were forced to give the union what they wanted. Following this, bakeries had better work conditions, got compensated $12 a week plus 20 cents per hour overtime, and ten-hour workdays. Omaha has seen its fair share of labor unions throughout the years which help improve the lives of the working families.


Benefits of Unions

By advocating for higher wages, better benefits, safer work environments, and many other beneficial priorities, unions will help a laborer find a suitable job. Joining unions allow for employers and employees to have a respected working relationship where both parties get what they need. As a union member, you have a voice in your profession’s benefits. You have the freedom and responsibility to request change if change is needed. You have the ability to enter a job where you know you will be treated justly. And you will not have to negotiate wages, benefits, or work-life balance with your employer.  Unions are a vessel for skilled workers to know that they have a say in their work and the comfort knowing that they are with a community of like-minded individuals.


Local Resource Opportunities

Omaha is an epicenter for skilled laborers. There are multiple resources available for people who are looking to obtain a great job. Some of these resources include Omaha Skills Connection and Heartland Workforce Solutions. These non-profit organizations aim to connect workers with employers or organizations to create a mutually beneficial relationship. These organizations have the resources necessary for anyone who wants to create a successful career in Omaha.


Unions in Omaha

Within Omaha, labor unions thrive. Most Omaha residents don’t give unions a second thought, but they are everywhere. Unions provide a home for workers in various trades such as steamfitters and plumbers, iron workers, electrical workers, and carpenters to name a few. The local Omaha unions allow for new and eager people to become skilled laborers through classes and apprenticeships. This allows for hands on learning and experienced direction to get new workers on the right path.


Why join an Omaha Labor Union?

Joining a union opens the door to many different opportunities. They allow members to have a voice in their job field. They help workers get higher wages, better benefits, and work-life balance. Unions allow for the unique opportunity for ambitious people to get trained on skilled work and find a job. Omaha labor unions will help improve the lives of the working families who join the union.


Attend Freedomtainment's Level Up Career Fair

On Saturday, September 3rd from 11am-3pm at the Gene Leahy Mall, Freedomtainment will host the Level Up Career Fair for individuals that are ready to "level-up" or step up to a next level job, connect with Omaha are employers and resource providers.  For more information and to register for the event, go to:

The family-friendly event will include free lunch* and a Tailgate Watch Party at 2:30pm to cheer on the Nebraska Huskers as they play North Dakota. 

*while supplies last


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