Labor unions in the late 1800's set out to improve the lives of frequently abused workers. Volatile issues like the eight-hour workday, ridiculously low pay and unfair company town practices were often the fuses that lit explosive conflicts between unions and monopolistic industrialists. Some of the most violent and important conflicts of the time were the Haymarket Affair and the Pullman strike. Each set out to with similar goals and both ended with horrifying consequences.
The movement in organized labor from 1875 to 1900 to improve the position of workers was unsuccessful because of the inherent weaknesses of unions and the failures of their strikes, the negative public attitudes toward organized labor, widespread government corruption, and the tendency of government to side with big business. After the Civil there was a push to industrialize quickly, and the rushed industrialization was at the expense of the workers as it led to bigger profits for big business and atrocious working conditions for them; conditions that included long working hours, extremely low wages, and the exploitation of children and immigrants.
During the Progressive Era of the Gilded Age, many laborers were being mistreated by the companies that they worked for. Because of this, workers started forming labor unions or organized association of workers, formed to protect and further their rights and interests. Many of these labor unions failed, while few of them achieved their goals and still exist today. Many factors contributed to the failure of these labor unions. The labor unions were given a bad image, the reason for this was the media, and they did this by publishing articles depicting the unions as violent, communist groups. The government supported big business during this time, since the government had a lot of power; this was a huge setback in the labor unions’ battles.
The phrase ‘Rise Of Smokestack America’ is often used in reference to the industrial revolution during which America’s industrial growth led to the growth of factories and modern cities, the development of social classes due to division of labor and race. During this period, the American labor force transformed tremendously as the nation evolved from a largely agricultural society into a relatively modern society.
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.
The labor movement in the United States began due to the need of the common interest of workers to protect themselves from their employers. Those who worked in the industrial sector, organized labor unions were formed to fight for better wages, reasonable hours, and safer working conditions for the employees. Understanding the history of the labor movement in the United States from the Industrial Revolution will allow for a better understanding of the purpose of the labor movement. Incorporating how the following theories: The Mainstream Economics School, The Human Resource Management School, The Industrial Relations School, and The Critical Industrial Relations School the labor issues in the early periods will allow future organizations to address issues in a more precise manner.
Labor union were crucial in the late 1800’s when the workers were working long hours, doing hard work, without any extra pay. Job security (could be fired at any given time) and safety precautions did not exist in this era, jobs in this day was typically a threat to the workers due to the bad working conditions. When the union was formed in 1866 it was not easy, but if the workers understood how it would benefit them it would have been a greater successes. Due to lack of education, the communication between the union and the works was broken. Some of the religious beliefs created a hardship on getting the union passed. One of the unions called the AFL (American Federation of Labor) was created in 1881 that would try to fight for workers’ rights.
Reunited by the Union victory in the Civil War, America faced an era of reconstruction during which the value of the individual was reanalyzed and redefined in law. After the reconstruction, a sense of peace and prosperity calmed the American people. Given hope by their success in maintaining the Union, the Progressive Era ensued. The previously forgotten vision of Alexander Hamilton was reborn and finally implemented. America was no longer the land of the yeoman farmer. Denizens of rural areas moved to the city and sought to work in the gradually industrializing regions of the country. As big business gained power, the laborers sought to achieve the American Dream of economic prosperity through self-improvement in a laissez faire economy.
After the Civil War, many ideologies developed into the United States of America. Some of these ideologies included the free labor ideology and the producerist ideology. Free labor endorsed the belief that by removing slavery, or any other kind of barrier, everyone had an equal chance to try to get wealth (Farless). The producerist ideology tried to stay to the customary view of society and it stressed the importance of viewing the community instead of an individual (Farless). With these two ideologies, they had an impact on labor. By believing in the producerist ideology, people would be staying with tradition, and that leaves no change for our world. Many laborers wanted change, which led to problems for the laborers.
Your post is very though provoking as you tie the Populist, Labor, and Progressive Movements together as growing out of necessity. These movements strived to help others whether through regulation of businesses, better working conditions or ending child labor. America was going through many changes during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that prompted these movements into action. Theodore Roosevelt eloquently stated that “each must be his brother’s keeper. Our cause is the cause of justice for all, in the interest of all” (Who is a Progressive?). The early movements were trying to help unify America by making sure that everyone was being treated fairly. You make a solid point stating that due to these movements pointing out social reform
How did social reformers such as Edward Bellamy, Henry George, and the Knights of Labor conceive of liberty and freedom differently than the proponents of the liberty of contract and laissez-faire like Herbert Spencer and Andrew Carnegie? Which of these groups was successful in imposing their vision on the larger society in the years before the turn of the century? Why?
The early labor unions in the United States began as a result of increased strikes across the United States. These strikes were the result of many companies providing low wages to their working staff. Their working staff did not agree with these payment terms and therefore decided to start striking. The labor unions initiated early on had one goal in mind, to fight for the working class and ensure the working class was treated fairly. Although the early stages of the labor unions did not separate themselves from the meaning of an anarchist. It was thought of many labor unions as anarchists and against the government. The "Knights of Labor" were the one of the firsts labor unions that was initiated and saw their demise in the form of being compared
This film is based on the real life story of Crystal Lee Sutton and her involvement with Ruben Warshovsky and the organization of the textile workers at the J.P. Stevens Company in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina (Labor Films). Sally Field plays the lead role of Norma Rae (Crystal Lee Sutton) fighting poor working conditions at O. P. Henley Company in 1978. This company is a southern textile mill, working with a union organizer to overcome pressure from management, implied dangers, and the struggle to organize her fellow employees. Although, the film is very entertaining, there are many examples of labor and management interactions including unfair labor practices by management, unfair labor practices by
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