The first national union was founded in 1867. At that time it was the collection of local unions, which were governed by the same authorization. The national unions were ruled by their conventions, which were obliged to meet every five years. The purpose of its creation was established in order to provide support and assistance to the Constitutional organizations. Today the national union contains its own convention membership, elected by local representatives.
The national union operates under its constitution, which determines rules for local unions and considers such essential issues as procedures of meetings’ holding, amount of dues, selection of employees and discipline among the union’s members.
â€œThe constitution of the national union states that the object of the union is to protect, maintain, and advance the interests of working people, to organize local unions at places of employment, and to promote the advancement of such bodiesâ€.
The mentioned above statement confirms that the constitution dictates the internal policies of the national union. It is not a secret that it gives the national union a considerable power and rights over the local unions. Researcher Ruth Prywes (2000) states, â€œa local may not call a strike without its national permission, and the national must approve any contract negotiated by a local before that contract can go into effect. Should a local defy its national by calling an unauthorized strike, the national can exert unofficial pressure by withholding strike benefits from the membership and, as a last resort, officially take over the union through a trusteeship arrangementâ€.
The national union provides the locals with financial assistance during strikes and other important procedures. The constitution determines the responsibilities of the national union and local unions.