A Historical Look At American Labor Abuse Essay

A Historical Look At American Labor Abuse Essay

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Greater employee benefits and higher wages are necessary for American workers in low-wage jobs, as current labor conditions often infringe upon basic workplace rights - and have an adverse effect on the United States economy. Though some employers argue improving working conditions and benefits will seriously affect prices of production, the impact of these changes on both companies and consumers are relatively minimal, so, both better benefits and fair working conditions and pay are imperative.

A Historical Look at American Labor Abuse
It is a harsh reality that unjust treatment of labor was a prevalent management attitude in the early 1800’s. Unfair labor practices originated through a mix of human greed and capitalistic exploitation. A prominent labor reform leader near the turn of the 20th century, Oscar Neebe (1886), wrote in his autobiography, "I worked in a factory where they made oil cans and tea-caddies… I saw children from 8 to 12 years old work like slaves.” He also states that “most every day it happened that a finger or hand was cut off, but what did it matter?” The horrifying abuse experienced by these workers is hard to comprehend. However, these abuses were possible due to the inability of workers to organize and combat the grueling conditions in turn leading to a situation akin to slavery. The organization of labor unions, such as The Knights of Labor, helped put a stop to these atrocities. As Walter Licht (1970), a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, said in his article titled, “The Knights of Labor Commemorated and Reconsidered,” “[The Knights] aimed at achieving better working conditions and a new social order based on equality and cooperation.” The Knights fought valiantly for lab...


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...n order to account for the potential losses in production volume. Impoverished workers who cannot pay for necessary medical procedures are forced to use the emergency room for easily treatable medical conditions that impose a burden on the healthcare system by withdrawing from funding pools they do not contribute to with taxes. If rendered unable to care for impoverished workers’ basic needs their overall quality of life and potential are nearly destroyed by chronic illness and injuries. An overall reduction in the quality of lives for workers would translate directly into a similar drop in the quality of the goods produced by those workers in turn negatively affecting the ability of the company’s products to market. Sweeping effects on the entirety of the economy as well as other workers are hard to ignore when addressing the issue of the abuses occurring today.

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