American History-19th Century

1592 Words4 Pages

As urban industrial workers expanded in the 19th century, industry and the industrial work force boomed as well. Workers , however, were met with difficult situations that ultimately led to violent outbursts. Low wages could not buy food and clothes at the same time and conditions in the work place brought about countless deaths and injuries. Growing number of immigrants caused the reduction of wages and insecurity of the workers caused unemployment. There were hostilities between workers, employers, and organizations and complaints of no social safety nets. Due to these chaotic dilemmas, union members decided to emerge as one, in order to overcome the corporations. Methods of scientific management were incorporated and the two ideological groups (radicals and conservatives) were firmly rooted in the belief of mutualism. However, conflicts between anarchists and capitalists ignited strikes, generating the Haymarket Square Riot along with the Homestead and Pullman strikes. It was then clear that they could not eliminate corporate control. Even with unity, the workers resulted in a fruitless effort. Urban industrial workers were bombarded with many problems, a major one being long working hours. They not only had to endure endless hours of labor and turmoil, but received scarcely any pay at all. To make things worse, they were struggling to exist in the late 19th century where industrialization was flustering and depressions were part of the norm. An average American worker earned a measly $500 per year and a woman only half as much as the men. People were not making enough money to purchase the necessities of life and thus, lived a hard, struggling life. A woman stated she didn’t "live" , but merely "existed".. she didn’t live that you could call living." However, even at low wages, an incredible number of hours were being worked. Skilled workers worked an average of 50.4 hours a week and the unskilled at 53.7 hours a week. Where machines replaced workers, the cost of the equipment had to be covered by intensive labor. Steelworkers, for example, worked on average 63.1 hours per week; some laborers were even required to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with even a 24 hour shift and only one day off every two weeks. Long laborious effort... ... middle of paper ... ... Chicago decided to cut the wages of its workers. Due to Pullman’s monopoly on sleeping cars, the American Railway Union (ARU) was created by Eugene V. Debs. The ARU was ordered not to handle the sleeping cars. Railroad officials saw this boycott as a chance to break up the union. The ARU spread the strike all throughout the country which resulted in the disruptance of US mail. President Cleveland sent in troops to cease the strike with the help of Attorney Olney. The ARU was stopped and Debs was put in jail. The corporation won once again, but this time with the power of the government and its arbitrary power over corporation rule. Workers did become "one" and worked well together as "one" but did not succeed as "one". Even throughout lock-outs and strikes, they were suppressed by government power and corporation rule. The power they had hoped to gain as they united wasn’t strong enough to overcome the arbitrary rule and omnipotence of corporations and the government. Miseries of their laborious life continued as hours remained long, wages remained low, conditions remained unsafe, and workers remained disheartened.

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