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Labor in the Gilded Age Lecture 1 The Great Strikes and Demonstrations.

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Presentation on theme: "Labor in the Gilded Age Lecture 1 The Great Strikes and Demonstrations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Labor in the Gilded Age Lecture 1 The Great Strikes and Demonstrations

2 Administrative Reading for next time –Montgomery – Work Rules and Manliness… –Haymarket Anarchist…Fights for Freedom Reading for class after movie –George Pullman Defends Managerial Paternalism –Samuel Gompers Defends the Right to Strike Movie in class next time – snacks!

3 Review Working conditions and relations among different parts of the working class from the Civil War to 1880 Development of unions, especially national labor federations, especially the Knights of Labor

4 Today I- Period of great strikes II- The Haymarket Square Riot

5 I- Period of Great Labor Upheavals Great labor wars between workers and the monopoly capitalists Demonstrations that employers and their allies in government were determined to crush Employer claim that strikes and unions were the work of anarchists, communists, and were un-American

6 Focus of Strikes: Heart of American Industry Railroads –Railroad Strike of 1877 –Strikes against Gould’s railways in 1885 and 1886 by the Knights –Strike by American Railway Union against Pullman in 1894 Mining –Metal Miners, Coeur D’Alene Idaho –Coal Miners, Tennessee Steel – The Homestead Strike - 1892

7 Government and Strikes In many of these cases, the union was poised to win a great victory In most of those, government intervention on the side of the employers turned the tide Some took the lesson that workers needed political influence Others took the lesson that unions should stay out of politics in the hope that government would then stay out of union business

8 II- Haymarket Square Riot May 1886 Began with the demand that workers implement the 8-hour day on May 1, 1886 On May 3, lockout at McCormick Harvester works turned violent

9 Chicago Central Labor Council Led by Anarcho-Syndicalists One was Albert Parsons, who was told to get out of town during the 1877 railway strike Called demonstration downtown to protest the police action at McCormick the previous day


11 The Demonstration Series of fiery speakers The Mayor left, stopping at the local police station to tell the police chief it was a peaceful meeting and there was no problem Police arrived

12 The Riot Bomb thrown, no one knows by whom, into the police ranks One killed immediately (several died later) and many injured Police began shooting and clubbing wildly No one knows how many died but over 200 injured

13 Aftermath Group of men charged Included Parsons and his associate August Spies Both had left the demonstration around the same time the mayor did

14 Aftermath State’s Attorney said, “Convict these men, make examples of them, hang them, and you save our institutions.” Chicago police instituted reign of terror against dissident groups Same State’s Attorney told the police to, “Make the raids first and look up the law afterwards.”

15 Trial Parsons went into hiding Candidates for the jury chosen by a special bailiff instead of at random –One was a relative of a police victim –Others admitted prejudice but were permitted to serve anyway Evidence filled with contradictory and unclear statements and obvious lies

16 Trial Jury was inundated with anarchist and socialist literature Really defendants’ ideology that was on trial All 8 convicted and five sentenced to death Executed November 1887 Others pardoned in 1894

17 Impact Haymarket Square set back the labor movement for years Simultaneously associated by the press with the Molly Maguires, the Anarchists, and the Knights 1886 200,000 workers had achieved 8 hours. By one year later, only 15,000 still had it Still has an impact now

18 Next Time Film next class Following class we’ll talk about the Pullman Strike

19 Labor in the Gilded Age Lecture 2 Film- The River Ran Red

20 Labor in the Gilded Age Lecture 3 The Pullman Strike

21 Administrative Reading – finish this topic Essay reminder

22 Review Period of great strikes –Railroad – 1877 Railway Strike –Mining –Steel – Homestead Strike The Haymarket Square Riot –Riot blamed on Anarchist-led unionists but clearly not their doing –Major setback for unionism

23 Today The Pullman Strike of 1894 I.Eugene V. Debs and Industrial Unionism II.The Pullman Company III.Causes of the strike IV.Conduct of the strike V.The Aftermath

24 I. Eugene Debs and Industrial Unionism Born in Indiana 1855 Had worked as Fireman and as Engineer Popular and influential Believed strikes not an effective labor weapon, advocated arbitration Same time as he changed his mind about strikes, he began to doubt the effectiveness of craft unionism

25 I. Debs and Industrial Unionism June 1893 American Railway Union founded Early success in strike against Great Northern Railroad Result was dramatic growth

26 II. The Pullman Company George M. Pullman came from working class family Developed idea for sleeping cars on trains Success led to need for large factory which he built in Chicago in 1880 Decided to build a model community for his workshops and workers

27 The Model Community Rents 25% higher than in neighboring communities Gas had to be bought from the company Spies In 1892 Pullman made $4,000,000

28 III. Causes of the Strike Summer 1893, in midst of panic, Pullman decided to cut costs Refused to reduce rents or cost of utilities December 1893 strike Result was that the men began to form branches of the ARU

29 III. Causes of the Strike May 1894 elected committee to bring grievances to management Next morning, three of the committee members were fired Meeting of the full committee that evening decided on a strike unless the men were rehired

30 IV. Conduct of the Strike Pullman went on vacation Workers formed strike committee For a month, strike remained local and peaceful June 12, 1894 ARU opened its first national convention, in Chicago Debs predicted boycott would become national strike

31 IV. Conduct of the Strike After 4 days 125,000 workers on strike Initially quite peaceful Widespread support by workers of all kinds Mail cars moved fine and almost no violence at all in Chicago Clearly the workers were winning

32 IV. Conduct of the Strike Media turned against strike once it spread beyond Pullman Still clearly the workers were winning Of the 24 rail lines feed Chicago, 13 were virtually immobilized

33 IV. Conduct of the Strike Intervention of the Federal Government Key was Attorney General Richard Olney Olney wired US Attorneys to protect mail Federal marshals ordered to protect mail Debs publicly offered to assign union work crews to any mail train that did not have a sleeper car attached

34 Intervention of the Federal Government Olney wanted Cleveland to send troops Interference with the mail provided the excuse June 30, Olney appointed a special federal counsel in Chicago His main function was to help railroads secure injunctions against the strike

35 Intervention of the Federal Government Application for injunction immediately granted One of the most wide-ranging injunctions ever issued before or since –Debs and other officers enjoined –US Strike Commission –US Supreme Court upheld the injunction later Debs decided to flout the injunction

36 Intervention of the Federal Government July 3, Walker and others sent telegram to President requesting troops Requested to protect federal property, mail, and enforce injunctions Cleveland now ordered federal troops to Chicago July 5 Debs offered again to end the boycott if the employer would agree to arbitrate the dispute

37 Intervention of the Federal Government Major conflicts as well in Denver, San Francisco and several other places Cleveland issued order against assemblages of any kind in Illinois Still widespread public support for strikers Judge Grosscup now called into session a grand jury to investigate the “insurrection” against the state of Illinois

38 IV. Conduct of Strike July 8, Debs sent out call for support Chicago Trades and Labor Council met July 11, city-wide strike attracted only 25,000 supporters July 12, AFL Executive met Debs then proposed calling the strike off

39 IV. Conduct of Strike July 17, four ARU officers rearrested Bail set at $10,000 each This time they decided to remain in jail July 20 federal troops withdrawn By August 1, the railroads had enough men and the trains were running again August 2, ARU held meeting and declared the strike over

40 V. Aftermath Widespread firing and blacklisting of strikers No one ever prosecuted for violence against the strikers Strikers frequently prosecuted Debs convicted of contempt Pullman Strike Repression was a Public Relations Disaster for Cleveland and the Democrats

41 V. Aftermath Debs became a Socialist at the expense of US tax payers Eventually became leader of the American Socialist Party Ran for President five times Labor Day

42 Next time New craft unionism American Federation of Labor Industrial Workers of the World

43 Labor in the Gilded Age Lecture 4 The New Craft Unionism and Workers Before the Turn of the Century

44 Administrative Quiz Reminder Mid-term Reminder Second Essay Reminder

45 Review Railroad Strike of 1877 The Haymarket Square Riot - 1886 The Homestead Strike – 1892 The Pullman Strike – 1894 In each case, the government intervened to suppress dissent and to crush the workers

46 Today I- The New Craft Unionism II- Origins and Founding of the American Federation of Labor III- The World of the Workers, 1880-1900

47 I- The New Craft Unionism Decline of the Knights following the unsuccessful strike against Gould’s railways and Haymarket Square Riot in 1886 The Cigar Makers’ model of unionism Why might cigar makers be among the intellectual leaders of the labor movement?

48 Cigar Makers Reorganization Union reorganized by Adolph Strasser, who became president in 1877 Aided by his ally, Samuel Gompers In 1867 cigar makers had already become the first national union to admit women and admitted African-Americans at same time

49 Cigar Makers’ New Model Centralization Even more, entire emphasis on a narrow agenda –Wages –Hours –Working Conditions Why did this narrow agenda work? Adoption of this model seemed to breathe new life and vitality into the union movement

50 II- Origins and Founding of the American Federation of Labor Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions Craft union federation founded in 1881 Gompers chosen to lead it in 1882 Compromise structure that had little impact 1886 decided to dissolve itself and turn its funds over to a new organization, the American Federation of Labor

51 AFL Structure A union of union's ‑ individual workers did not belong Issued exclusive jurisdiction charters to each constituent union Established State Federations and City Centrals

52 AFL Functions Settle jurisdictional disputes Adopt limited legislative program Assist in supporting strikes ‑ emphasis on economic action ‑ no direct political participation or supporting of candidates This policy was called “voluntarism”

53 Why Did AFL Succeed? AFL offered what unions wanted Coherent political voice in favor of limited objectives Protection from dual unionism ‑ an obscenity in the trade union lexicon Support in periods of economic conflict without interference

54 Strengths of AFL Its focus on narrow industrial objectives: pure and simple unionism Its weakness! Why was its weakness a strength?

55 III- The World of the Workers, 1880-1900 What did George Pullman have to say about his willingness to use arbitration in the Pullman strike? Cannot arbitrate a fact that he knows to be true!

56 Role of Government State legislatures or city councils occasionally tried to intervene on behalf of workers Courts responded by invalidating virtually all such laws Why? More frequently legislatures made strikes or picketing illegal

57 Injunctions Railway strikes of 1877 and 1894 led to heavy reliance on injunctions to deter labor disputes Again employers’ property rights paramount Injunctions often issued without union even being heard Prohibited any activity in support of strike

58 Working Class 1880 more than one million workers under the age of 16 By 1900 ¾ of the population consisted of workers and their families Dramatic growth of immigration contributed to growth of working class and its growing diversity

59 Working Class Growing need of families to send their daughters out to work Craft unions largely benefited highly skilled white male workers who already had relatively the highest wages and best conditions Segregation of the south –Jim Crow system –Lynching (2500 1885-1900)

60 Discrimination Whites largely excluded African- Americans from their unions and from skilled jobs AFL initially tried to encourage or even require unions to admit African-Americans Eventually decided this was a hopeless task that would have to wait

61 Next Time Begin discussion of labor in the progressive era

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