Union, industrial township (1990 pop. 50,024), Union co., NE N.J.; settled 1749 by colonists from Connecticut, set off from Elizabethtown 1808. Steel and metal products and paint are among its various manufactures. Union was the site of a Revolutionary battle in 1780. It is the seat of Kean Univ. of New Jersey.
Union, Act of. For the union of England and Scotland (1707), see Great Britain; for the union of Ireland (1800) with Great Britain, see Ireland.
Union, Fort: see Fort Union.

Arrangement under which workers are required to join a particular union within a specified period of time after beginning employment. Such an arrangement differs from the closed shop in that the employer's choice of new employees is not restricted to union members. Advocates of the union shop argue that it prevents workers from enjoying the benefits of unionism without bearing their share of the costs. Union shops are uncommon in most countries, but they are both legal and common in the U.S. and Japan. In the U.S., workers in an enterprise usually choose, by majority vote, a single union to represent them, though in some states right-to-work laws prohibit requiring union membership as a condition of employment, thus forbidding both the union shop and the closed shop.

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Association of workers in a particular trade, industry, or plant, formed to obtain improvements in pay, benefits, and working conditions through collective action. The first fraternal and self-help associations of labourers appeared in Britain in the 18th century, and the era of modern labour unions began in Britain, Europe, and the U.S. in the 19th century. The movement met with hostility from employers and governments, and union organizers were regularly prosecuted. British unionism received its legal foundation in the Trade-Union Act of 1871. In the U.S. the same effect was achieved more slowly through a series of court decisions that whittled away at the use of injunctions and conspiracy laws against unions. The founding of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886 marked the beginning of a successful, large-scale labour movement in the U.S. The unions brought together in the AFL were craft unions, which represented workers skilled in a particular craft or trade. Only a few early labour organizers argued in favour of industrial unions, which would represent all workers, skilled or unskilled, in a single industry. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was founded by unions expelled from the AFL for attempting to organize unskilled workers, and by 1941 it had assured the success of industrial unionism by organizing the steel and automotive industries (see AFL-CIO). The use of collective bargaining to settle wages, working conditions, and disputes is standard in all noncommunist industrial countries, though union organization varies from country to country. In Britain, labour unions displayed a strong inclination to political activity that culminated in the formation of the Labour Party in 1906. In France, too, the major unions became highly politicized; the Confédération Générale du Travail (formed in 1895) was allied with the Communist Party for many years, while the Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail is more moderate politically. Japan developed a form of union organization known as enterprise unionism, which represents workers in a single plant or multiplant enterprise rather than within a craft or industry.

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Trade agreement by which a group of countries charges a common set of tariffs to the rest of the world while allowing free trade among themselves. It is a partial form of economic integration, intermediate between free-trade zones, which allow mutual free trade but lack a common tariff system, and common markets, which both utilize common tariffs and allow free movement of resources including capital and labour between members. Well-known customs unions include the Zollverein, a 19th-century organization formed by several German states under Prussian leadership, and the European Union, which passed through a customs-union stage on the path to fuller economic integration. Seealso European Community; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; North American Free Trade Agreement; World Trade Organization.

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Credit cooperative formed by a group of people with some common bond who, in effect, save their money together and make low-cost loans to each other. The loans are usually short-term consumer loans, mainly for automobiles, household needs, medical debts, and emergencies. Credit unions generally operate under government charter and supervision. They are particularly important in less developed countries, where they may be the only source of credit for their members. The first cooperative societies providing credit were founded in Germany and Italy in the mid-19th century; the first North American credit unions were founded by Alphonse Desjardins in Lévis, Quebec (1900), and Manchester, N.H. (1909). The Credit Union National Association (CUNA), a federation of U.S. credit unions, was established in 1934 and became a worldwide association in 1958.

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U.S. temperance-movement organization. Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1874, it used educational, social, and political means to promote legislation. Its president (1879–98) was Frances Willard (1839–1898), an effective speaker and lobbyist who also led the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union from its founding in 1883. The WCTU was instrumental in promoting nationwide temperance and in the eventual adoption of Prohibition.

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Former U.S. telegraph company and contemporary provider of electronic financial transactions. From its foundation in 1851 as a company formed to build a telegraph line from Buffalo, N.Y., to St. Louis, Mo., in 1856 the expanding business was reorganized as the Western Union Telegraph Co. By the end of 1861 Western Union had built the first transcontinental telegraph line. The company introduced singing telegrams in 1933. Western Union continued to grow, absorbing competitors such as Postal Telegraph Inc. in 1943. As telegraphy was superseded by other methods of telecommunication, Western Union diversified into teletypewriter services, money orders, and mailgrams. It launched the telecommunications satellite Westar 1 in 1974 and was operating five satellites by 1982. In 1988 the company was reorganized as Western Union Corp. to handle money transfers and related services. After declaring bankruptcy in 1993, it sold its financial services arm in 1994 to First Financial Management Corp., and in 1995 that company merged with First Data Corp. The renamed Western Union Financial Services, Inc., became a world leader in electronic (including Internet) transactions.

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Association of 10 European countries to coordinate matters of European security and defense. The WEU was formed in 1955 as an outgrowth of the Brussels Treaty of 1948. Composed of Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Britain, it works in cooperation with NATO and the European Union and is administered by a council of the foreign affairs and defense ministers of the member countries. There are also several associate members, observers, and associate partners. It is headquartered in Brussels.

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(Jan. 1, 1801) Legislative agreement uniting Great Britain and Ireland under the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After the unsuccessful Irish revolt of 1798, the British prime minister, William Pitt the Younger, decided that the best solution to the Irish problem was a union to strengthen the connection between the two countries. The Irish parliament resisted the proposal, which called for its abolition, but votes bought by cash or honours ensured passage of the agreement in 1800. The union remained until the recognition of the Irish Free State (excluding six of the counties of the northern province of Ulster) by the Anglo-Irish treaty concluded on Dec. 6, 1921; the union officially ended on Jan. 15, 1922.

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or Soviet Union

Former republic, eastern Europe and northern and central Asia. It consisted, in its final years, of 15 soviet socialist republics that gained independence at its dissolution: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia (now Belarus), Estonia, Georgia (now Republic of Georgia), Kazakhstan, Kirgiziya (now Kyrgyzstan), Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia (now Moldova), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. It also contained 20 autonomous soviet socialist republics: 16 within Russia, 2 within Georgia, 1 within Azerbaijan, and 1 within Uzbekistan. Capital: Moscow. Stretching from the Baltic and Black seas to the Pacific Ocean and encompassing some 8,650,000 sq mi (22,400,000 sq km), the Soviet Union constituted the largest country on Earth, having a maximum east-west extent of about 6,800 mi (10,900 km) and a maximum north-south extent of about 2,800 mi (4,500 km). It encompassed 11 time zones and had common boundaries with 6 European countries and 6 Asian countries. Its regions contained fertile lands, deserts, tundra, high mountains, some of the world's longest rivers, and large inland waters, including most of the Caspian Sea. The coastline on the Arctic Ocean extended 3,000 mi (4,800 km), while that on the Pacific was 1,000 mi (1,600 km) long. The U.S.S.R. was an agricultural, mining, and industrial power. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, four socialist republics were established on the territory of the former Russian Empire: the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. These four constituent republics established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, to which other republics subsequently were added. A power struggle begun in 1924 with the death of communist leader Vladimir Lenin ended in 1927 when Joseph Stalin gained victory. Implementation of the first of the Five-Year Plans in 1928 centralized industry and collectivized agriculture. A purge in the late 1930s resulted in the imprisonment or execution of millions of persons considered dangerous to the state (see purge trials). After World War II, with their respective allies, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. engaged in the Cold War. In the late 1940s the U.S.S.R. helped to establish communist regimes throughout most of eastern Europe. The U.S.S.R. exploded its first atomic bomb in 1949 and its first hydrogen bomb in 1953. Following Stalin's death, it experienced limited political and cultural liberalization under Nikita Khrushchev. It launched the first manned orbital spaceflight in 1961. Under Leonid Brezhnev liberalization was partially reversed, but in the mid-1980s Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev instituted the liberal policies called glasnost and perestroika. By the end of 1990 the communist government had toppled, and a program to create a market economy had been implemented. The U.S.S.R. was officially dissolved on Dec. 25, 1991.

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officially Republic of South Africa formerly Union of South Africa

Southernmost country on the African continent. The Kingdom of Lesotho lies within its boundaries. Area: 470,693 sq mi (1,219,090 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 46,888,000. Capitals: Pretoria/Tshwane (executive), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein/Mangaung (judicial). Three-fourths of the population are black Africans, including the Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, and Tswana; nearly all of the remainder are of European or mixed or South Asian descent. Languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi (North Sotho), Sotho (South Sotho), Swati (Swazi), Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu (all official). Religions: Christianity (other [mostly independent] Christians, Protestant, Roman Catholic); also traditional beliefs, Hinduism, Islam. Currency: rand. South Africa has three major zones: the broad interior plateau, the surrounding mountainous Great Escarpment, and a narrow belt of coastal plain. It has a temperate subtropical climate. It is one of the world's major producers and exporters of gold, coal, diamonds, platinum, and vanadium. It is a multiparty republic with two legislative houses; its head of state and government is the president. San and Khoekhoe (Khoisan speakers) roamed the area as hunters and gatherers in the Stone Age, and the latter had developed a pastoralist culture by the time of European contact. By the 14th century, peoples speaking Bantu languages had settled in the area and developed gold and copper mining and an active East African trade. In 1652 the Dutch established a colony at the Cape of Good Hope; the Dutch settlers became known as Boers (Dutch: “Farmers”) and later as Afrikaners (for their Afrikaans language). In 1795 British forces captured the cape. In 1836 Dutch settlers seeking new land made the Great Trek northward and established (1838) the independent Boer republics of Orange Free State and the South African Republic (later the Transvaal region), which the British annexed as colonies by 1902 following the South African War. In 1910 the British colonies of Cape Colony, Transvaal, Natal, and Orange River were unified into the new Union of South Africa, which became independent and withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1961. Throughout the 20th century, South African politics were dominated by the question of maintaining white European supremacy over the country's black majority, and in 1948 South Africa formally instituted apartheid. Faced by increasing worldwide condemnation, it began dismantling the apartheid laws in 1990. In free elections in 1994, Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president. A permanent nonracial constitution was promulgated in 1997.

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officially International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America (IBT) , formerly (until 1940) International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen and Helpers of America (IBT)

Largest private-sector labour union in the U.S., representing truck drivers and workers in related industries such as aviation. It was formed in 1903 with the merger of two team-drivers' unions, and local deliverymen using horse-drawn vehicles remained the core membership until the 1930s, when intercity truck drivers became predominant. From 1907 to 1952 the union was headed by Daniel J. Tobin, who built it up from 40,000 members in 1907 to more than one million in 1950. Disclosures of corruption in the leadership led to the Teamsters' expulsion from the AFL-CIO in 1957. Between 1957 and 1988 three Teamsters presidents—Dave Beck, Jimmy Hoffa, and Roy Williams—were convicted of various criminal charges and sentenced to prison terms. (Hoffa has been missing, and presumed dead, since 1975.) While Teamsters representation of truck drivers declined with the growth of nonunion trucking companies in the 1980s, the union gained new members in clerical, service, and technology occupations. The union was readmitted to the AFL-CIO in 1987. Presidents Ron Carey (1992–99) and James P. Hoffa (1999– ), son of the former president, focused on job security and family issues.

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(1397–1523) Scandinavian union that joined the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark under the rule of a single monarch. Margaret I had become regent of the three kingdoms by 1388; she chose her grandnephew Erik of Pomerania to become their king, and he was crowned at Kalmar, Swed., in 1397. Each country kept its own laws, customs, and administration. Sweden rebelled and claimed independence under Gustav I Vasa in 1523, and Norway became a Danish province in 1536.

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United Nations agency headquartered in Geneva. Its roots can be traced to 1865, when the International Telegraph Union was established to coordinate international development of the telegraph. It acquired its present name in 1934 and became a UN specialized agency in 1947. Its activities include regulating allocation of radio frequencies, setting standards on technical and operational matters, and assisting countries in developing their own telecommunications systems.

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Political entity created by the constitution of 1946 of the Fourth Republic. It replaced the French colonial empire with a semifederal entity that absorbed the colonies (overseas departments and territories) and gave former protectorates limited local autonomy, with some voice in decision making in Paris. By the constitution of 1958, the French Union was replaced by the French Community.

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Flag of the European Union.

Organization of European countries, formed in 1993 to oversee their economic and political integration. It was created by the Maastricht Treaty and ratified by all members of the European Community (EC), out of which the EU developed. The successful EC had made its members more receptive to greater integration and provided a framework for unified action by member countries in security and foreign policy and for cooperation in police and justice matters. In pursuit of its major goal to create a common monetary system, the EU established the euro, which replaced the national currencies of 12 of the 15 EU members in 2002. Originally confined to western Europe, the EU enlarged to include several central and eastern European countries in the early 21st century. The EU's principal institutions are the European Community, the Council of Ministers (a forum for individual ministries), the European Commission (an administrative bureaucracy), the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, and the European Central Bank.

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Economic union of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The three countries formed a customs union in 1948, and in 1958 they signed the Treaty of the Benelux Economic Union, which became operative in 1960. Benelux became the first completely free international labor market and contributed to the establishment of the European Economic Community.

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Organization founded by Roger Baldwin and others in New York City in 1920 to champion constitutional liberties in the U.S. It works for three basic concepts: freedom of expression, conscience, and association; due process of law; and equal protection under the law. From its founding it has initiated test cases and intervened in cases already in the courts. It may provide legal counsel, or it may file an amicus curiae brief. The Scopes trial was one of its test cases; it provided counsel for the Sacco-Vanzetti case. In the 1950s and '60s it opposed the blacklisting of supposed left-wing subversives and worked to guarantee freedom of worship and the rights of the accused. Its work is performed by volunteers and full-time staff, including lawyers who provide free legal counsel. Seealso civil liberty.

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African intergovernmental organization. It is the successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The AU was established in 2002 to promote unity and solidarity among African states, spur economic development, and promote international cooperation. The OAU was established in 1963 with similar goals, and during its tenure the group mediated several border disputes on the African continent. More economic in nature and with a stronger mandate to intervene in conflicts, the AU replaced the OAU in 2002. In 2004 the AU's Pan-African Parliament was inaugurated, and the organization agreed to create a peacekeeping force. The AU's headquarters are in Addis Ababa, Eth.

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(Jan. 1, 1801) Legislative agreement uniting Great Britain and Ireland under the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After the unsuccessful Irish revolt of 1798, the British prime minister, William Pitt the Younger, decided that the best solution to the Irish problem was a union to strengthen the connection between the two countries. The Irish parliament resisted the proposal, which called for its abolition, but votes bought by cash or honours ensured passage of the agreement in 1800. The union remained until the recognition of the Irish Free State (excluding six of the counties of the northern province of Ulster) by the Anglo-Irish treaty concluded on Dec. 6, 1921; the union officially ended on Jan. 15, 1922.

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Réunion is an island in Southern Africa, in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. It is an overseas region of France. The total area of the island is 2,512 km², of which 10 km² is water. The island has a coastline of 207 km. The maritime claims of Réunion include an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles, and a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles.

The climate in Réunion is tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation. The weather is cool and dry from May to November, and hot and rainy from November to April. The terrain is mostly rugged and mountainous, with fertile lowlands along the coast. The lowest point is the Indian Ocean and the highest is Piton des Neiges at 3,069 m.

Réunion's natural resources are fish, arable land and hydropower. As of 1993, 60 km² of the land is irrigated. The use of the land, as of 1993, is described in the table below:

Land use
Use Percentage of Area
arable land 17
permanent crops 2
permanent pastures 5
forests and woodland 35
other 41

Local natural hazards include: periodic, devastating cyclones (December to April), and Piton de la Fournaise (2,631 m) on the southeastern coast is an active volcano.

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