Labor Relations Essay

968 Words4 Pages
From the beginning, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) set out to be a different. Rather than focusing on remolding American life and the institutions in control of American life, the AFL sought to better workers lives by securing higher wages, a shorter work day, and more favorable working conditions (Holley, Jennings, & Wolters, 2009). The AFL also divided membership up by trade, recognizing that different skilled trades had individualized needs (Holley, Jennings, & Wolters, 2009). The Haymarket Riot, Homestead Incident, and the Pullman Strike all played a role in the rise and decline of the AFL. The first event, the Haymarket Riot, was a delightful success for the newly created AFL under Samuel Gompers (Holley, Jennings,…show more content…
By all appearances this was an atrocious blow to the union movement as a whole. Union memberships after this episode plunged dramatically from 24,000 to 8,000 two years later in 1894 (Holley, Jennings, & Wolters, 2009). Also the union’s demands were not granted. But, the media was sympathetic to the union in this case; they claimed that Carnegie was responsible for initiating the Incident (Holley, Jennings, & Wolters, 2009). For union members, they gained a sense of inspiration in standing up for their rights as well as a solid indication of Gompers’ support for their demands (Holley, Jennings, & Wolters, 2009). The Pullman Strike was noteworthy because it was the first time that a federal injunction was utilized to break up a strike (Brendel, 1994). George Pullman provided residences for his railroad employees; the rent was deducted directly from employee paychecks (PBS, 2001). A depression hit the economy at the time, many workers were laid off; those who kept their jobs experienced wage cuts, but their rents remained the same (PBS, 2001). Staff, under the direction of Eugene Deb’s, the American Railway Union (ARU) leader, began to strike, demanding higher wages and lower rent (Holley, Jennings, & Wolters, 2009). When tensions rose strikers became violent and destructive. This prompted negative media against unions and once again the federal government stepped in (PBS, 2001). The ARU was
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