Union affiliation was first seen in the 1600’s when the roots of the United States were just being planted with skilled trade groups such as artisans, laborers, goldsmiths and printers. Over the next two hundred years, unions developed their desires for higher wages through the use of strikes and protests. The nation’s progress spurred the need for more labor and so began the Industrial Revolution. During the Revolution, many union members began to witness the power that employers had and as a result decided to make use of the concept of power in numbers. The National Labor Union formed in 1866 and worked to persuade congress to set a Federal eight-hour workday, which applied to government employees (Miller). Many large unions formed following in the NLU’s footsteps and uni...
Beginning in the late 1700’s and growing rapidly even today, labor unions form the backbone for the American workforce and continue to fight for the common interests of workers around the country. As we look at the history of these unions, we see powerful individuals such as Terrence Powderly, Samuel Gompers, and Eugene Debs rise up as leaders in a newfound movement that protected the rights of the common worker and ensured better wages, more reasonable hours, and safer working conditions for those people (History). The rise of these labor unions also warranted new legislation that would protect against child labor in factories and give health benefits to workers who were either retired or injured, but everyone was not on board with the idea of foundations working to protect the interests of the common worker. Conflict with their industries lead to many strikes across the country in the coal, steel, and railroad industries, and several of these would ultimately end up leading to bloodshed. However, the existence of labor unions in the United States and their influence on their respective industries still resonates today, and many of our modern ideals that we have today carry over from what these labor unions fought for during through the Industrial Revolution.
It is the first national organization raised by the American working class. Social Labor Party was founded in 1876 to form the center of the socialist movement in the United States, the decline of the late 19th century. In 1901, the American Socialist Party stead. 1919 suddenly decline. In the same year, the US Communist Labor Party and the Communist Party of the United States was born. In 1921 the two parties merged, said the US Communist Party. In the same year the rapid collapse after losing presidential campaign, only Minnesota agrarian labor longer exists, it is the history of the United States effective local third party. In the mid-1880s, it had a huge number of members. Later, due to the leadership class cooperation policy in the late 1980s it declined sharply. American Federation of Labor (the “AFL”) then took its place. Its predecessor was the trade unions and the Confederation of Labor of the United States and Canada organized. The organization was established in November 1881 in Pittsburgh. 1886, launched the “51” national general strike, the end of the restructuring is to AFL Gompers President. American Federation of Labor was founded in 1881 was a great influence of labor organizations. It was a loose coalition of various trade unions organized by industry for skilled workers. Because of the leadership’s extraordinary organizational skills and it lasted as long as 40 years, the AFL has absorbed many
Unions, designed to protect workers, became well known. The Knights of Labor organized by Terence Powderly became the first major union, but did not last long with its non-strike philosophy. On the contrary, the American Federation of Labor, which organized skilled workers, and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which organized unskilled worker, were extremely successful. These alliances eventually merged to become the AFL CIO and organized all workers. Labor unions thrived through the Gilded Age and protected workers all throughout the country. On the other hand, violence was not an admirable effect of the continuing changes. Unfortunately, when brutality was presented, the unions usually were blamed. For instance, when the Haymarket Affair broke out in 1886 and an anarchist set off a bomb amidst a crowd whilst the unions were accused for the tragedy.
In 1886, Samuel Gompers combined small unions specific to one craft into the American Federation of Labor, which included all skilled workers. He did not unite the entire working class; skilled laborers were in higher demand, and keeping the AF of L exclusive to them gave them more leverage. Knowing that the radical nature of the Knights of Labor led to its downfall, the AF of L chose to keep their demands simple, only asking for higher wages and better working conditions. These changes were unanimously wanted, and kept the organization united, with the AF of L being the biggest labor union up until the Great Depression.
As a result of the internal conflict and before the Knights termination, the American Federation of Labor was founded in 1881 by Samuel Gompers. According to United States, Bureau of Labor Statistics (1964) the organization was known as pure and simple unionism. The AFL intentions were higher wages and better working conditions. During the depression of 1873, they financially assisted members and their families during strikes, unemployment, injury, or death. By World War I they saw membership grow to two millions and by 1920 it rose to four millions.
Yellin, Samuel. American Labor Struggles New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co. 1936; Reprinted New York: Arno Press, 1970.
The early 1900s was a time of many movements, from the cities to the rural farms; people were uniting for various causes. One of the most widespread was the labor movement, which affected people far and wide. Conditions in the nation’s workplaces were notoriously poor, but New York City fostered the worst. Factories had started out in the city’s tenements, which were extremely cramped, poorly ventilated, and thoroughly unsanitary. With the advent of skyscrapers, factories were moved out of the tenements and into slightly larger buildings, which still had terrible conditions. Workers were forced to work long hours (around 12 hours long) six hours a day, often for extremely low pay. The pay was also extremely lower for women, who made up a large portion of the shirtwaist industry. If a worker were to openly contest an employer’s rule, they would be promptly fired and replaced immediately. Also, strength in numbers did not always work. Managers often hired brutal strikebreakers to shut movements down. The local police and justice were often of no help to the workers, even when women were being beaten. At the time, the workers needs were not taken seriously and profit was placed ahead of human life. This was not just a struggle for workers’ rights; it was also a movement for the working class’ freedom.
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.
The unions of disunion were not only a major detriment to increasing the socio-economic standards of the laborer from 1875 to 1900, but also served to backpedal on the progress laborers had already gained out of respect. Perhaps the cornerstone of the unions’ policies was the fight for the improved working hours, specifically and eight hour work day, and increased wages for the laborer. However, Historical Statistics of the Unites States on Hours and Wages of Industrial Workers from 1875 to 1891 proves that no such improvements truly occurred. In fact, only a nominal 3.3 cent increase in wages from 1875 to 1891 occurred, and while it some may argue that the unions are then successful in achieving some increase in wages it is crucial to realize that this nominal increase came at the cost of hundreds, if not thousands, of laborer lives. Certainly a meager 1% increase in wages does not justify such loss of life, and if it is claimed that it does then that is also to warrant the trusts right to pay their laborers so little, as anyone who condones such little increase at such high costs automatically degrades the value of the life of the worker and thus reinforces the trusts’ right to combat unions. Furthermore, it should be noted that the average price of wages through those sixteen years was a measly 161.8, a decline of 8 whole cents from the starting point. Thus we can see that unions did not really gain 3.3 cents in wages, but rather caused a net loss of 8 cents. To even attempt to claim improvement for the laborer would be a completely ludicrous notion. Unfortunately for the laborer, the unions of disunion’s extent of their plight did not stop at the ruining of the worker’s economic position through the loss of wages, but also thr...
No other union had come into such heated conflict with Gould as did the Knights, as no other union had been strong enough to challenge Gould himself. But in the end, even the strongest of all labor unions of the time could not stand against the tempest that Gould was. One might say that the Haymarket Riot was the ultimate downfall of the Knights of Labor, but this is a mistaken belief. It was Gould who caused the decline of public support for the labor union and brought about its downfall in the great strike of 1886.
By 1919, America had its first major strike in which four million people—or one in every five—Americans participated (Cohen, 12). These workers sought to protect their jobs and to solidify their wartime wages. One tool for doing so, of course, was the strike.
The Pullman Strike of 1894 was the first national strike in American history and it came about during a period of unrest with labor unions and controversy regarding the role of government in business.5 The strike officially started when employees organized and went to their supervisors to ask for a lowered rent and were refused.5 The strike had many different causes. For example, workers wanted higher wages and fewer working hours, but the companies would not give it to them; and the workers wanted better, more affordable living quarters, but the companies would not offer that to them either. These different causes created an interesting and controversial end to the Pullman strike. Because of this, questions were raised about the strike that are still important today. Was striking a proper means of getting what the workers wanted? Were there better means of petitioning their grievances? Was government intervention constitutional? All these questions were raised by the Pullman Strike.
This included women, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and immigrants. The cities provided them with opportunities to support their families. Many of these people worked factory or railroad jobs, which required no formal training. The workers were expendable to their employers- if they were injured, they could easily be replaced with someone else. Document G shows poster from July 1853, advertising for laborers on the 12th Division of the Illinois Central Railroad. It sought men with families, promising them employment and board in return for $1.25 per hour. However, the railroad companies often tried to take advantage of the minority workers. In response, they organized the Knights of Labor, which was the second national labor organization. It was founded in 1869 as a secret society and opened for public membership in 1881. The Knights were known for their efforts to organize all workers, regardless of skill level, gender, or race. After the mid-1880s, membership declined for a variety of reasons, including their participation in violent strikes against the railroads, which were controlled by a few powerful men. Document E is excerpted from an 1887 book called The Labor Movement: The Problem of Today by George E. McNeill. He was a labor leader who scolded the railroad companies for reducing their employees’ wages, interfering with the legal process, and controlling the
In the early 1930s, the Great Depression was in full swing. Businesses were cutting wages and laying off workers in order to maintain high profits. Workers faced sweatshop conditions, low wages, long hours, and the constant threat of being laid off. The conditions of the coal industry in Minneapolis were typical for the time. In the Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs; a member of the Communist League of America and one of the leaders of the 1934 strike describes his own situation: “We were just squeaking by when I was cut to forty-eight hours a week. It was a welcome physical relief since coal heavers had to work like mules, but there was also a two-dollar cut in weekly pay…. The thin flesh of mere subsistence was being scraped down to the bare bones of outright poverty…. On top of all that, I could expect to be laid off in the spring…. And I could be fired at any time without recourse merely at the employer’s whim. (Pg.30-31)”