American Workers and Labor Unions in The Twenties

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In the period immediately following World War I, American workers struggled to earn a living as prices rose and wages stagnated, forcing them to seek union support. Labor unions endeavored to represent the working class against their employers and corporations, who refused to increase wages or improve working conditions. In order to combat the capitalist’s immense political clout, unions made their voice heard through strikes. After the war, capitalists linked unions to the mounting communist threat, stressing that strikes undermined capitalism and threatened a republican form of government. As a result, government sided with capital against labor unions and the struggle of the American workers, who had no voice against corporations. This struggle can be exemplified in a correspondence between union leader, Samuel Gompers and bishop William Quayle, published in “The Twenties in Contemporary Commentary: Labor & Capital”. The letters demonstrate that in the 1920’s, labor unions were necessary as a means to overcome capitalist greed and enhanced the ideals of democracy by empowering the working class. Unimpeded in their pursuit of maximum profits to the detriment of the workers, capitalists and their oppressive methods made labor unions necessary. It is vital to acknowledge the possible bias in Gompers’ argument, considering he is a union leader. Also, bishop Quayle’s potential bias must be considered, stemming from him being a clergymen who’s in contact with those affected

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