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Labor Unions DBQ

Good Essays
During the Gilded Age (1870-1900), workers faced numerous problems in which they attempted to fix through organizing into labor unions. But, these unions failed. Their overall goals were to have better wages and working conditions, but a shorter work day in which they did not achieve. (Document A1) The government was corrupted and controlled by big business, which caused a lack of good interpretation, regulation, and passing of progressive legislations. Big businesses also had control over the media which lead to reports in newspapers to give the reader a negative view on labor unions. Labor unions needed skilled workers to have leverage in collective bargaining, but steadily improving technologies replaced many skilled workers. To prevent…show more content…
Thus, Pinkertons, police or military would be sent to the location where more violence would cause many injuries, some possibly fatal. (Document G1) Labor unions would always be blamed for these fights, even if they had not instigated it, and so the public thought unions were violent and reckless. These strikes were made illegal due to them never being peaceful (Document H2) On top of that, many labor unions were said to be connected to communism and socialism. Many believed the unions were a threat to capitalism and the United States which terrified the public. (Document F2) To combat these opinions, Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, made a statement to show that he and his union were pro capitalism, not socialism. “Economically, you (socialists) are unsound; socially, you are wrong; and industrially you are an impossibility.” (Document G2) But this did not eliminate the bad image of labor…show more content…
A yellow dog contact would require the worker to avoid all labor unions to get or maintain their job which lead to a decrease in union members. (Document E1) Without many members, unions would lose their leverage of strength in numbers. In the Homestead Strike and Lockout of 1892, Andrew Carnegie, the owner of Carnegie Steel, hired Pinkertons. These spies would become part of the union, and discover if they wanted to do a sit in strike. This could have caused lots of damage to Carnegie’s factory, and so he locked out the workers the next day. The workers went home and then returned with weapons and fight with the Pinkertons. Numerous people were killed. (Document G1) Many owners and managements saw their workers as the equivalent of machines. “So as long as they do my work for what I choose to pay them, I keep them…” (Document A2) Management’s could easily fire and replace their workers with scabs, who were immigrants. Scabs would do the same amount of work for a lesser pay which lead to more native workers being fired, and less members in the labor unions. Losing the leverage that the number of members provided would become a tremendous problem for workers and labor
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