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Labor Unions The Workers’ Search for Power. Work in Industrial Period  Factory system ended personal relationship between employer and worker  Big.

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Presentation on theme: "Labor Unions The Workers’ Search for Power. Work in Industrial Period  Factory system ended personal relationship between employer and worker  Big."— Presentation transcript:

1 Labor Unions The Workers’ Search for Power

2 Work in Industrial Period  Factory system ended personal relationship between employer and worker  Big. biz. cut corners to maximize profits  Long hours  Low Pay  Rigid Timetables  Strict discipline  Frequent layoffs  Reduced wages for women and children  Machines replacing workers  Unsafe, unsanitary, and poorly lighted factories

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5 Urban Working-Class  Average workday hours  In some cities averaged about 10 hours  Wages:  Employers believed that workers should not earn more than a subsistence income. Why?  High wages hurt profits  Moral reasons Prevented wasting money on alcohol, gambling, prostitutes, etc.  1890:  Subsistence income: $530  Average annual wages for family of four: $380

6 Labor Organization before Civil War  1820s-1830s  First attempts to organize in major cities  Attempted to influence politics with third parties (“Workingmen’s Parties”)  City based  Farm migrants to cities; Skilled Laborers  Little experience with labor in cities  Followed middle- and upper-class leaders Goal: Organize labor as a tool to reform society NOT for benefit of laborers  No feelings of oppression  No class consciousness

7 Labor After Civil War  Unskilled labor  Status of labor changed  “De-skilling” of the labor force emerged  Urbanization and the lure of the city brought many rural citizens into urban areas  Sources of labor:  Women, children as young as five  By 1910: 25% of U.S. children employed full-time

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9 The Two Main Labor Groups  Knights of Labor (1866, Terrence Powderly)  First significant, national organization  Membership? Wide ranging, included black laborers, women, skilled/unskilled (except. Chinese and non-producers)  Goal? Economic and social reform  get rid of capitalism w/ worker owned businesses  8 hour work day  Tactic used? Strikes, boycotts, mass meetings  Aroused public anger. Why? Use of violence and anti-capitalist agenda  1,000,000+ members in the 1880’s

10  American Federation of Labor (AFL)  Founded in 1886 by Samuel Gompers  “Mainstream” voice of labor  Membership? only skilled workers, a federation of various existing trade unions under the umbrella of the AFL. Not open to individual to join.  Goals? Higher wages, shorter hours, improved working conditions. Closed shop? Meaning all union labor  Tactic? Strikes, but refrained from alignment w/political parties  Public disapproved of AFL collective actions but saw them as less of a threat than Knight of Labor Why?

11 Discussion:  What are the biases of the following groups/individuals:  Capitalists  Nativists  Horatio Alger (‘luck and pluck’)  Anarchists  Socialists  American Public

12 More Discussion  In what ways do the biases actually strengthen American capitalism.  In what way did the biases weaken the American labor movement?  According to Judge Jenkin, does the right of the property owner of laborer take precedence.  In what way does the “violence” cartoon reflect his decision?  How did government actions in the Homestead and Pullman strike also reflect Judge Jenkin’s decision.


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