The Role Of Trade Unions In The 19th Century

Decent Essays
Divisions within trade unions were evidently an obstacle for Labour rights; however there were various other factors which could be said to have played greater roles than the divisions. It is clear that State & Federal Authorities, big business and employers and the perception of trade unions at the time also contributed to the obstacles trade unions faced to achieve Labour rights. One obstacle that was perhaps less significant than the divisions but played a part nonetheless was the perception of “organised” labour at the end of the 19th Century. American society viewed trade unions as violent and aggressive. This was due to the poor reputation they had created for themselves. A major turning point which caused this reactionary…show more content…
Furthermore, the unions would have to change their “militant” ways otherwise they would continue to be seen as aggressive and have alienated support which would act as an obstacle for unions achieving any sort of labour rights. Between 1865 and the 1900’s, Trade Unions and organised labour were damaged by divisions and various conflicts happening within the unions. In the late 19th Century, a new wave of immigration meant cheaper labour for employers. The unions that would strike or not work in an attempt to gain recognition lost this bargaining power as the employers and owners of the businesses would simply employ the new immigrants who were willing to work for less and most of the time, for longer. Immigration led to animosity and suspicion from the older immigrants and workers who saw themselves as true Americans, which increased racism and xenophobia within the workforces and unions as they were being divided due to race and ethnic lives. An example of this was the discrimination faced by Chinese and Japanese workers. These worked long hours and for little pay and many claimed that this was ‘un-American’ of them and they made no attempt to conform to the American social norms at the time, many continuing to wear traditional gowns and dresses from their native countries, and so by 1882, Chinese and Japanese immigration was prohibited in America. The divisions were further exacerbated by the black migration from the South. Trade Unions saw blacks and the
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