Before the structured labor society that we live in today, America was a very different working world; one plagued with injustice and grievances from workers across the job sectors. Two organizations, the Knights of Labor and later the American Federation of Labor acted as activists for reform and demanded better standards for working, living, and life for workers. Their strategies and success in achieving their goals were as different as the organizations themselves.
The organized labor of 1875-1900 was unsuccessful in proving the position of workers because of the future strikes, and the intrinsical feeling of preponderation of employers over employees and the lack of regime support. In 1877, railroad work across the country took part in a cyclopean strike that resulted in mass violence and very few reforms. An editorial, from the Incipient York Time verbalized: "the strike is ostensibly hopeless, and must be regarded as nothing more than a rash and splenetic demonstration of resentment by men too incognizant or too temerarious to understand their own interest" (Document B).
In a time after the civil war, America improved their financing by switching to the gold standard, improved communication by boosting the telegraph, improved transportation by building railroads, and improved wealth by giving contracts for clothes to multiple companies. The economy was also improving massively also due to natural resources, demography, and law. Railroads allowed people as well as supplies to be transported quicker, safer, and cheaper. Companies bought each other out and formed monopolies which made the price go up and the owners very wealthy. Aside from all of these positives, there are also various problems that took place during the Gilded Age (1865-1900). Problems like how industrial workers and farmers responded to
A labor union is a group of money earners that come together to promote and defend the interests of its members with respect to earnings and working conditions. Labor unions deal with employers on the behalf of its members through a process known as collective bargaining. In the United States, the first labor unions were on a regional level, when shoemakers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, organized in the 1790s. Terrible working conditions in the 19th century led to worker conditions. Employers fought back against the strikes by issuing demands, hiring private detectives and engaging in other dispositions. Sometimes, the strikes became violent. The National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935 to protect workers ' rights to form unions and
Problems like these angered the workers and caused labor unions to form. Some labor unions included the American Federation of Labor (AFL), or the Knights of Labor (KoL), which were the first two industrial labor unions. The industrial unions did more physical rebellion such as strikes or walk-outs, but both the industrial unions and the farmer unions were formed due to the people’s
This provided better working hours and safe conditions for the factory workers. People argue that the factory owners sent thugs to interrupt labor unions and government did little to protect the laborers. However, when the Antitrusts Acts were passed, it stated that nothing contained in the Antitrust Laws shall be constructed to forbid the existence and operation of labor organizations (7). This proves that the Federal Government tried to intervene and help the laborers. Sooner or later, factory workers got what they wanted with the help of the reforms during the Progressive Era.
In the 1840’s there was a wave of democratization created after Jackson’s presidency. It was created the value of the common man, and the importance of every person who was in the government. Of course, there were exceptions to this rule as there still certain groups like blacks or women that were viewed as inferior, but the majority of the population felt like they had worth. This led to series of reforms: hospitals for the mentally ill, schools for people with physical disabilities, the temperance movement, and labor unions. This movements fought a better society with better treatment even though there would be no economic incentives to do so.
One of the utmost important remote institutions the Progressives worked through was that of the unions. As industrialism flourished more advanced, working circumstances grew worse and more brutalizing. Laborers felt they needed a way to combat this trend; as a result they created UNIONS for collective bargaining for better working conditions. Nevertheless, a union was more than just an institution for improvement. They were major
The work of Samuel Gompers acted as a catalyst to the dawning of the Progressive Era. Gompers’ revolutionary union work advocated for social justice and regulation within factories. HIs work with expanding the rights of workers through factory regulation and organized unions was continued even after his death by the organization her started in 1886. The American Federation of Labor outlasted even the Knights of Labor, and today is still a well respected organization. The American Federation of Labor grew from 50,000 members in 1886, to nearly 3 million members in 1924.
They would have no nails, they had worn them off pulling hides; their knuckles were swollen so that their fingers spread out like a fan. There were men who worked in the cooking-rooms...in these rooms the germs of tuberculosis might live for two years.” These suffering Americans appealed to the government and labor unions for help, but they did not receive it due to lack of union organization, big business ties, and laissez-faire economic ideals. During the Gilded Age, the U.S. government suppressed the average industrial worker, and labor unions, though created for laborers’ aid, accomplished little and were futile when facing big business and government.
Eventually it got to the point where these workers were working so much, but barely made enough to support their family. The Knights of Labor was the first national labor group formed in 1869. This group wanted to gain an eight-hour workday, expel asian workers and immigrants from the far east, and stop child labor. Around the same time a new national organization named the American Federation of Labor (AFL) formed when the Knights of Labor union declined. The new organization was led by Samuel Gompers, a cigar maker that helped to form the union.
During the Progressive Era, most employers were not concerned with workers rights and focused more on profit than human rights or safety. The poor working class, as well as immigrants who had worked in the United States for a while, became infuriated over the unfair treatment and working conditions of which they suffered. Hugh Rockoff explains, “…industrialization had alienated the workingman…” (Rockoff 747).
According to Australian National University, Unions also encouraged developments in areas of political theory and philosophy during the period of the Industrial Revolution, particularly with Marxism and various schools of socialist thought. (What was the role of the labor unions during the Industrial Revolution?, 2015)” There are still many Unions out there today that are representing workers in various industries. I am grateful personally for the Unions because my husband has been in the Union for over thirty years, and if it wasn’t for them he wouldn’t have a retirement. We cannot overlook the technology that has changed the way that we live today.
The U.S. was a time of Industrialization which meant it led to the rise of big businesses at the expense of the workers. Factory laborers faced long hours as, low wages, and unsanitary conditions. Capitalist were so busy trying to create profits for their own selfish needs that they did not care for the well-being of their workers. The large corporations only cared about protecting themselves by allying with political parties. Many people felt that all power rested with the politicians and businessmen, but the Progressives attempted to undo these problems caused by industrialization.
The AF of L wanted “unionism” and opposed socialism. TheKnights of Labor, another labor union, was created in 1869 and enlisted in their ranks not only alllaborers but also everyone who could be truly classified as a producer. Labor unions, the two major depressions and the three “robber barons” were three of theforemost reasons the Gilded Age got its name. The “robber barons” invested in things that wouldultimately lead to a “Golden Industrial Age” but they didn’t achieve it totally legitimately, and thecreation of the labor unions sided with the workers, but at times, grew violent in their methods.