Unions in America were created to improve the working conditions of its labor force. These labor force consisted of the men, women, and children that were employed by the owners of industry. Many unions were established in the early 1800s, but due to the widespread fear of socialism and the repression from the courts, the majority of them eventually failed. Most capitalist, at the time, felt there was no need to share with its employees the profits of their businesses (Murrin et al. 2002:685-702). Management, for the most part, paid little attention to salary and provided few, if any, safety measures and health protection for the people actually doing the work. Employees worked long hours weekly, often twelve or more daily. These abuses and corruptions by owners towards the working-class were some of the reasons why the U.S. Department of Labor, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the American Federation of Labor came into existence.
John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, to name a few, started their fortunes during the 1800s. The methods used by these men to get rich stirred people to refer to them as “robber barons.” Rockefeller formed Standard Oil after buying several oil refineries with the enormous profits he made during the Civil War. Similarly, J.P. Morgan had his hand in creating several of the major industries of the day, which included investment banking, General Electric, and International Harvester (Murrin et al. 2002:685-686). The successes these men experienced were usually attained at the expense of the common laborer. With their wealth and influence, even the anti-trust government laws of the time that were supposed to dissolve monopolies, were used as weapons agai...
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...ions. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1914: BoondocksNet Edition, 2001. Retrieved April 9, 2003 http://www.boondocksnet.com/editions/marot/
Murrin, John M., Paul E. Johnson, James M. McPherson, Gary Gerstle, Emily S. Rosenberg, and Norman L. Rosenberg. 2002. “An Industrial Society.” Pp. 685-686, 701-702, 704 in Liberty Equality Power. Harcourt College Publishers, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL.
Summary of the Major Laws of the Department of Labor.” U.S. Department of Labor. 9 Apr. 2003. Retrieved April 9, 2003 http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/Lawsprog.htm
This is the AFL-CIO. 2003. Retrieved April 9, 2003 http://www.aflcio.org/aboutaflcio/about/thisis/index.cfm
“Who was Samuel Gompers, Anyway?” Samuel Gompers Papers Project. 2003. Retrieved April 9, 2003 http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/colleges/ARHU/Depts/History/Gompers/page6.html
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