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. Coming from a time of segregation and social divide, the Knights of Labor stood out as one of the most accepting labor unions of the age, which largely accounted for their membership to reach almost 800,000 members during its peak. All workers in a trade were included, regardless of their skill level.
Groups like the Immigration Restriction League and the American Protective Association wanted to restrict immigration into the United States. Legislature passed literacy requirements for immigrants, and even outright banned the entrance of certain groups, like the Chinese, into the country (Source A). As a result, immigration’s force in shaping America was limited in comparison to other phenomena. The largest factors shaping America during the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, industrialization, urbanization, and immigration, were interconnected, each influencing the others.
Progressivism was a reform movement that began during the end of the 19th century and continued through the first couple decades of the 20th century. During this time, many writers, politicians, and social welfare advocates came forward as leaders of the Progressive movement and sought to solve societal problems that were caused by capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. While these Progressives often differed in what they saw as America’s main problem and how it could be fixed, they shared the common belief that in order for the reforms to work, the government needed to take the lead, be actively involved in the reforms, and be more democratic. All citizens, similarly, were to take responsibility for their society as well. What follows is
The government consistently took action that was detrimental to U.S. industrial workers by passing legislation that
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.
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).
The Act included the first regulation that legalized safeguards for health, life and limb (Wikipedia). Indeed, the laws were meant for the workers in the factories to have safer working conditions, but it never really worked out. Records vary, but it is known that as many as 35,000 workers killed and another million injured on the job in 1900. (Lutz,
Frances Perkins, a survivor from the Shirtwaist Factory Fire quotes “Moved by this sense of stricken guilt, we banded ourselves together to find a way by law to prevent this kind of disaster.” Frances Perkins became secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and this quote said by Perkins “something must be done. We’ve got to turn this into some kind of victory, some kind of constructive action,” helped new workplace safety standards into law in the state of New York. The benefits that I would like the audience to see is how workplace safety is important by learning about the history of regulation, OSHA, and workers compensation.
On Saturday, June 25, 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill that was a landmark law in the Nation’s social and economic development. This law was called the Fair Labor Act of 1938. (Grossman) This Act established minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting full-time and part time workers in the private sector and in the Federal, State, and local government. (US Department of Labor, 2008)
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 1892, workers at the Homestead steel plant near Pittsburg ambulated out on strike and mass chaos the lives of at least two Pinkerton detectives and one civilian, among many other laborers death (Document G).
Based on our group’s research, we believe that the labor movement in the 1820s in the United States during the Jacksonian Democracy was a major factor in the implementation of many of the laws and better working conditions that are present in today’s society. As we have learned and presented to the class, this labor movement in the 1820s grew out of the need to protect the common interest of workers and to improve their overall working conditions. We currently see the results of these labor unions that were formed in the 1820s whenever we enjoy the luxury of having our weekends off from work and having the opportunity to miss work, also known as “sick leave”, when we are ill. We now have an established minimum wage and legally, no one is forced
During the Gilded age billionaires like Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller were earning massive profits off of the backs of cheap, underpaid labor. Working conditions in the late nineteenth century were terrible and the pay was even worse. Workers would work for 12 hour days in harsh dangerous conditions with no job security and no safety standards These employees would earn a bare minimum wage of one dollar a day for six days a week. Outraged workers wanted better conditions and better pay, so they formed unions like the Knights of Labor (KoL) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL). These unions fought for eight hour work days, better conditions, and better pay along with other topics.
An in depth analysis of the factors that led to the rise of labor unions in the United States only reveals that the basic need and the primary objective of the workering people was to secure economic and legal protection from their exploiting employers. The origins of the
Between 1880 and 1910 progressivism was the improvements and progress of the United States of America by the expansion of democracy and achieving economic and social fairness. During that period of time progressivism was an opportunity for the government to create reforms at national and international measures. Such as: Child Labor Law of 1887 and the prohibition. The strength of progressivism came from farmers, politicians, and middle class workers. Progressivism is truly how the government regulated, got involved, and changed aspects to improve the country.