Unions
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Section 4. Unions. Unions. Life in industrial America was more than difficult. Machines replaced skilled labor, leaving repetitive mundane jobs for many Americans to go to every day. Working conditions were often unhealthy and dangerous. Workers breathed in lint, dust, and toxic fumes.

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Unions

Section 4

Unions


Unions1

Unions

  • Life in industrial America was more than difficult.

  • Machines replaced skilled labor, leaving repetitive mundane jobs for many Americans to go to every day.

  • Working conditions were often unhealthy and dangerous.

    • Workers breathed in lint, dust, and toxic fumes.

  • Machines lacking safety devices caused high numbers of injuries.


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Unions

  • Industrialism also brought about an increase in the standard of living.

    • Real wages earned by the average worker rose by about 50 percent between 1860 to 1890.

http://outrunchange.com/2012/06/14/typical-wages-in-1860-through-1890/


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Unions

  • Despite a rise in the standard of living, an increase in the division of income between the wealthy and the working class caused resentment among workers.

    • In 1900 the average industrial worker made $.22 per four and worked 59 hours a week.

  • Between 1865 and 1897 the U.S. experienced deflation, or the rise in the value of money.


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Unions

  • Deflation caused prices of goods to fall, which increased the buying power of workers.

  • Even when wages began to be cut, workers buying power was still increasing.

  • This caused workers to believe that companies wanted to pay them less money for the same work.

  • Many workers decided that the only way to improve their working conditions was to organize unions.

  • They could bargain collectively to negotiate high wages and better working conditions.


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Unions

  • There were two basic types of unions.

    • Craft worker unions: Craft workers had special skills and training allowing for them to receive high wages and had more control over how they organized their time.

      • Included machinists, iron molders, stonecutters, glassblowers, shoemakers, printers, carpenters.

    • Common laborers had few skills and received lower wages.

  • In the 1830s craft workers began to form trade unions.

    • Trade Union: unions limited to people with specific skills.


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Unions

  • Employers were often forced to recognize and negotiate with trade unions because they represented workers whose skills they needed.

  • Employers generally regarded unions as illegitimate conspiracies that interfered with their property rights.

  • Later unions expanded including common labors called industrial unions.

    • Corporations particularly opposed these unions.


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Unions

  • Companies used several techniques to prevent unions from forming.

    • They required workers to take oaths or sign contracts promising not to join unions.

    • They hired detectives to go undercover and identify union organizers labeling them on a blacklist, a list of “trouble makers”.

    • Companies used lockouts to break up unions by locking out the workers and refusing to pay them.

    • If strikes occurred companies would use strikebreakers or replacement workers


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Unions

  • Workers that wanted to organize unions faced many problems.

    • There were no laws protecting worker’s right to organize or requiring companies to negotiate with unions.

    • Union perception was that they threatened the American institution.

  • During this time the ideas of Karl Marx were spreading through Europe.

    • Marxismargued that the basic force shaping capitalist society was the class struggle between workers and owners eventually leading to a worker’s revolt, seizing control of factories and the overthrow of the government.


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Unions

  • Marxism claimed that after the revolution, the government would seize all private property and create a socialist society where wealth was evenly divided.

  • Eventually the states would wither away, leaving a Communist society where classes did not exist.

    • These thoughts strongly shaped European unions.

  • Anarchy also became prevalent during this time.

    • Anarchist believed that society does not need any government and that with only a few acts of violence they could ignite a revolution to topple the government.


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Unions

  • These beliefs spread throughout all of Europe.

  • When the immigrant population began to expand throughout America the thoughts of Marxism and Anarchism followed.

    • This created a nativist mentality increasing hatred toward immigrants and unions alike.


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Unions

  • In 1873 a severe recession known as the Panic of 1873 struck the American economy and forced many companies to cut wages.

  • As struggles continued into 1877, several railroads announced another round of wage cuts.

  • This triggered the first nationwide labor protest.

  • The day after the cuts took effect, railroad workers in Martinsburg, West Virginia, walked off the job and blocked the tracks.

  • As other cities (New York, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Chicago) heard about West Virginia, railroad workers began to do the same.


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Unions

  • Several states called local militias to stop the violence.

  • Determined to stop the violence, President Hayes ordered the army to open the railroad between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

  • He also sent troops to Chicago where they eventually ended the strike.

    • More than 100 people died and millions of dollars in damage to property had been destroyed.


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Unions

  • The failure of the Great Railroad strike convinced many labor organizations that they needed to become more organized.

    • In the late 1870s, the Knights of Labor created the first nationwide industrial union.

  • The Knights of Labor called for the following items:

    • Eight hour workday

    • A government bureau of labor statistics

    • Equal pay for women

    • Abolition of child labor

    • Creation of worker-owned factories


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Unions

  • The Knights of Labor initially opposed the use of strikes, preferring boycotts to pressure employers.

  • Also supported arbitration to help workers and their employers come to agreements on certain disagreements.

    • Arbitration: process in which an impartial third party helps workers and management reach an agreement.

  • In the early 1880s, the Knights began to use strikes and they achieved great success initially.

    • The Knights convinced Jay Gould to reverse wage cuts in 1885 increasing union membership by 600,000 members.


The haymarket riot and the pullman strike

The Haymarket Riot andThe Pullman Strike

  • In 1886 organizers called for a nationwide strike on May 1 to show support of the eight-hour work day.

  • On May 3rd, a clash between strikers and police in Chicago left one striker dead.

  • That night an anarchist group organized a meeting in Chicago’s Haymarket Square to protest the killing at Haymarket Square.

  • When the police arrived, someone threw a bomb causing the police to open fire.

  • After fighting ceased, seven police officers and four workers were killed.

  • Police arrested eight people, seven of which were German immigrants.

  • All were convicted, and four were executed.


The haymarket riot and the pullman strike1

The Haymarket Riot andThe Pullman Strike

  • 1893 railroad workers created the American Railway Union (ARU) under the leadership of Eugene V. Debs.

  • One of the companies the ARU unionized was the Pullman Palace Car Company, based in Illinois.

  • Building a town (Pullman Town) next to its factory, Debs required his workers to live in the town and buy goods from the company store.

  • In 1893 a depression struck the U.S., causing the Pullman Company to slash wages.

  • These wage cuts made it difficult for workers to pay their rent or the high prices at the company stores.


The haymarket riot and the pullman strike2

The Haymarket Riot andThe Pullman Strike

  • Three workers complained and Pullman fired those workers.

  • In response a strike was called.

  • In support, the ARU stopped handling Pullman cars all across the United States.

  • This tied up railroads and threatened to paralyze the economy.

  • Railroad managers arranged for U.S. mail cars to be attached to the Pullman cars.

  • This would require the railroads to use Pullman cars because it is a federal offense to interfere with U.S. mail.


The haymarket riot and the pullman strike3

The Haymarket Riot andThe Pullman Strike

  • President Grover Cleveland sent troops, claiming it was his responsibility to keep the mail running.

  • Then a federal court issued an injunction ordering the union to halt the boycott, the strike at Pullman and the ARU both collapsed.


The american federation of labor

The American Federation of Labor

  • In 1886 delegates from over 20 of the nation’s trade unions organized the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

  • Started by Samuel Gompers, his approach to labor relations—which he called “plain and simple” unionism—helped unions to become accepted in American society.

  • Gompers views on organized labor were the following:

    • Unions should stay out of politics

    • Socialistic and communistic ideas were rejected.

    • Fight for small gains (high wages and better working conditions.

    • Use negotiations instead of strikes.


The american federation of labor1

The American Federation of Labor

  • Under Gompers, the AFL had three main goals.

    • Tried to convince companies to recognize unions and to agree to collective bargaining

    • It pushed for closed shops.

      • Closed Shops: requiring that companies to only hire union members.

    • Promoted eight-hour workday.


Women and unions

Women and Unions

  • By 1900, women made up 18% of the labor force.

  • The type of jobs women did outside the home reflected society’s ideas about what constituted “women’s work”.

    • One-third of women worked as domestic servants.

    • Another third worked as teachers, nurses, sales, clerks, and secretaries.

    • The remaining third were “light” industrial workers.


Women and unions1

Women and Unions

  • Regardless of employment, women were paid less than men even when they performed the same jobs.

    • It was assumed that women had men that helped support her, either her father or husband.

    • This made it acceptable to pay men more than women for the same job.

  • For these reasons, women were excluded from unions.

  • 1903 two woman labor organizers, Mary O’Sullivan and Lenora O’Reilly, decided to start a separate union for women.


Women and unions2

Women and Unions

  • With the help of Jane Addams and Lillian Wald, the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) was organized.

  • This union supported the following:

    • Eight-hour work day

    • Creation of a minimum wage

    • End to evening work for women

    • Abolition of child labor.

  • The WTUL also collected donations to support women that were on strike.


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