Labor Unions in the Late 19th Century America

1511 WordsFeb 21, 20147 Pages
During a time period of great advancement in technology, the late 19th century could appropriately dub itself as an industrial revolution. Rapid transformations of the work-place worsened working conditions and prompted the common laborer to join forces with others in order to create labor unions. Although these unions were fueled with excellent intentions and driven by exasperated motivation, these organizations did little to improve the working conditions during this particular time frame. It wasn’t until the 20th century that tangible changes in the workplace, stability in personal finance, and the public’s perception of their motivations that organized labor truly improved the position of workers from 1875 to 1900. Although…show more content…
An observer of strikes established in order to promote such strong points as these higher wages were even viewed as irrational and hopeless. (Document B). If these public presences yielded no reward, then the unions obviously did not accomplish what they set out to do in the first place. In this way, the organized labor movements promoting higher wages did not result in the improvement of the position of workers. They were still trapped in those disgusting tenements for years to follow. Because of a lack of clear organization of these labor unions, a rather unfavorable notion stained the public perception of various groups. As depicted in Frank Leslie 's Illustrated Newspaper, the label of “anarchist” was associated with labor unions, and specifically, the Knights of Labor. ( Document F) Quite obviously, this group was viewed as a bunch of rabble-rousers and very violent. This most certainly did not help the popularity and success of labor unions because this negative connotation lead to the downfall of this once very popular labor group. For example, in Chicago, a demonstration by the Knights of Labor turned into the Haymarket Square Riot and lead to the death of a group of police officers. The term “riot” practically labels the group as destructive and uncivil and therefore made them looked down upon by the public. A non-existent group certainly can not make the changes they set out to do in the first place! In another revolt in
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