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LABOR ISSUES. GROWING WORK FORCE 14 million people immigrated to US between 1860-1900. Most looking for work in industries 9 million people moved to cities.

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Presentation on theme: "LABOR ISSUES. GROWING WORK FORCE 14 million people immigrated to US between 1860-1900. Most looking for work in industries 9 million people moved to cities."— Presentation transcript:


2 GROWING WORK FORCE 14 million people immigrated to US between 1860-1900. Most looking for work in industries 9 million people moved to cities to work in factories

3 INDUSTRY Workers worked long hours for little pay. Work was repetitive and boring. Many work environments were hazardous. Many children worked in factories for longer hours than adults and in more dangerous conditions. Many workers lived in cramped, unsanitary tenement housing.

4 RISE OF LABOR UNIONS Labor unions sprung up after the Civil War for people of the same trade Knights of LABOR – 1869- pursued social reform 8 hour work days Equal pay=equal work End child labor 1885 – strike against railroads- cut wages, some strikes turned violent End of union by 1890’s

5 A merican Federation of Labor L ed by Samuel Gompers O rganized skilled workers in smaller unions based on craft B y 1892 250,000 members (no women) F ocused on wages, hours and conditions U sed strikes and boycotts plus collective bargaining ( process in which workers negotiated as group with employers E ncouraged a closed shop workplace (only union members work here)

6 Reaction to labor unions Employers disliked unions Forbade union meetings Fired union organizers Forced new employees to sign yellow dog contracts (never join a union) Refused to recognize union representatives

7 RAILROAD STRIKE 1877 1 st major unrest of labor J uly 14 1877 B & O railroad announced a 10% wage cut W orkers reacted with violence in Pittsburg, Chicago, St. Louis P resident Hayes sent in troops to put down the riots (1 st time in history this happened) I n Pittsburg -Soldiers fired on rioters and killing and wounding many 2 0,000 angry men and women set fire to the railroad company causing 5 million in damages H ayes again sent in troops –this set precedent for federal troops to repress labor unrest

8 HAYMARKET RIOT 1886 T ook place on May 4, 1886, in Chicago. B egan when an unknown person threw a homemade bomb at police as they attempted to disperse a public meeting in support of striking workers. The blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and an unknown number of civilians. E ight anarchists were indicted for murder. Although the state presented no proof that any of the eight had thrown the bomb, four of those brought to trial were put to death. Of those remaining, two fled the country, one turned state‘s evidence, and one committed suicide in prison. T he causes of the incident are still controversial, although deep disagreements between business and working class people in late nineteenth century Chicago—such as demands for an eight-hour day—are generally acknowledged as having caused the tragedy. T o commemorate the incident, labor leaders began organizing May Day celebrations.


10 PULLMAN STRIKE 1894 Began on May 11, 1894, when factory workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company, in the Chicago area, walked out following failed negotiations over declining wages. Strikers appealed to the American Railway Union (ARU), which argued unsuccessfully for arbitration. On June 20, the ARU announced that, effective June 26, its membership would no longer work trains that included Pullman cars. By early July, and in the face of crippling railway stoppages, the federal government intervened, forbidding boycott activities and dispatching soldiers to Chicago and other locales. ARU President Eugene V. Debs was arrested and imprisoned for ignoring the federal government‘s injunctions. Unable to garner the support of other labor leaders, the boycott and the ARU were effectively broken by mid-July. Although public sentiment did not favor the boycott, George Pullman received broad criticism for his company‘s paternalistic policies and refusal to arbitrate. By and large, workers received the public‘s sympathy.


12 TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FACTORY FIRE Occurred on March 25, 1911, in New York City‘s Asch Building, where the Triangle Shirtwaist Company occupied the top three of the building‘s ten floors. The fire began shortly after 4:30 p.m. in the eighth floor cutting room, where tons of fabric fed the flames. While most of the workers on the eighth and tenth floors escaped, dozens of workers on the ninth floor were trapped, unable to open a door that could have led to their escape. 146 workers died in about fifteen minutes. Some of the deaths were caused by the collapse of the rear fire escape. Some workers tried to slide down the elevator cables, but lost their grip and fell to their death. Others jumped to their death from the building‘s windows. Company owners were initially charged with manslaughter, but were later acquitted. In 1914, the court ordered them to pay damages to the families of twenty-three victims who had sued. The tragedy led to efforts to improve factory safety and it served as a catalyst for organizing garment workers.


14 HOMESTEAD 1892 Occurred in Homestead, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) between the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (the AA) and the Carnegie Steel Company. In 1889 workers negotiated a three-year contract, which included a sliding wage scale based on the market price for steel. As the contract neared expiration, Andrew Carnegie, the plant‘s owner, traveled to Scotland, leaving manager Henry Clay Frick in charge. Negotiations between workers and Frick failed. On June 30, 1892, the day the contract was to expire, workers were locked out of the plant and a strike began. Workers blocked the plant to prevent scabs, a worker who replaces a Union worker during a strike, from entering. In response, Frick arranged to have 300 strike-breaking detectives from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency (known as Pinkertons) provide security for the plant. When the Pinkertons attempted to arrive on July 6 under cover of darkness, workers sounded alarms and people gathered to meet the force. The Pinkertons opened fire: three Pinkertons and seven workers died, and others were injured. Six days later the National Guard arrived. On November 17, day laborers and mechanics voted to return to work. Three days later, the prohibition on returning to work for the company was lifted. The plant rehired some as non-union workers, but blacklisted others.


16 COXEY’S ARMY Refers to a protest march by unemployed American workers, led by the populist Jacob S. Coxey. While its official name was the Commonweal in Christ, the movement took its nickname from its leader‘s name. The purpose of the march was to protest the unemployment caused by the economic depression of 1893 and to urge the government to create public works jobs. The march began in Massillon, Ohio, and it included 100 men. Although Coxey predicted that this number would swell to 100,000, the ―army numbered only 500 by the time it reached Washington, D.C. When Coxey‘s Army reached the capital on April 30, 1894, Coxey and other movement leaders were arrested for walking on the grass of the U.S. Capitol. The rest of the army then scattered. Some of the movement‘s more militant leaders went on to head ―armies ‖ of their own in the Pacific Northwest, where many of the protestors were unemployed railroad workers.


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