As of 1989, trade unions had not played the
strong role in the political system that the economic
Only a small percentage (5 to 7 percent) of the population
15 percent of the labor force) belonged to labor unions in
late 1980s, and the unions themselves tended to be
fragmented and weak.
The trade unions were also inclined to be highly
most were associated with the major political parties.
a Christian Democratic trade union group, a communist
organization, a group of unions associated with the PRD,
organization for government workers, a teachers' union,
relatively nonpartisan group. The several union groups
as often with each other as with management.
Since most Dominicans earned very low salaries, the
could not support themselves, or very many of their
on the basis of union dues. Several of the major groups
funding from outside the country. In addition, because the
country typically had high rates of unemployment and
underemployment and a surplus of unskilled labor,
replaced workers who tried to organize. Sometimes
engaged in what could be described as union-breaking
including the summoning of the police to put down union
activities. These and other conditions both weakened and
politicized the labor movement. Although collective
had gained popularity and legitimacy, political action was
more widely used by the unions to satisfy their demands.
Political action might take the form of street
violence, marches to the National Palace, and general
all meant to put pressure on the government to side with
workers in labor disputes. In extreme cases, a general
might be called in an effort to topple a government or a
minister deemed insufficiently receptive to labor's
Data as of December 1989