Making a new deal Essays

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Making a new deal The politics of laborers have made them a vital and vibrant part of American history. One has only to study the underlying political causes of the first labor movements to understand why. Few will doubt that one of the most important parts of labor history occurred with the working-class experience in Chicago from the 1920s to the late 30s. During this era, many workers petitioned the government and employers for changes. Some groups of those workers were successful and others were not. Lizabeth Cohen, in Making a New Deal, takes a different approach from traditional labor historians. She examines the effects that ethnic workers had on the successes and failures of the earliest labor movements. Though striking…show more content…
Knowing that, it is even more interesting to read about the affects of ethnicity on the earlier labor movements. Chicago industry consisted heavily of steel towns and packing towns. Immigrants lived in those towns, but there were also immigrant neighborhoods where they worked in garment factories and did other light industry (Cohen, 17). The steel towns, packing towns, and immigrant neighborhoods were geographically and culturally insular (Cohen, 21). Technically, their isolation from one another was why the first striking workers of Chicago failed, but to sum that abortive labor movement in one sentence would do injustice to labor history. The Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) began to nationally organize the steel mills in 1918 (Cohen, 39). With assistance from the American Federation of Labor, the CFL formed the National Committee for the Organization of Iron and Steel Workers, which combined twenty-four steel unions. The new organization could not raise enough funds, had poor organizers, and neglected to incorporate leaders who spoke foreign languages (Cohen, 39). Labor leaders not attempting to bond ethnic workers early on was a mistake. Employers knew well beforehand that ethnic workers were more likely to become intransigent than non-ethnic workers who worked under the same miasmal conditions (Cohen, 40). Some employers even hired detectives to create animosity
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