chapter 20 section 4 the rise of organized labor
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Chapter 20, Section 4: The Rise of Organized Labor. Main Idea: As workers lost power over their working conditions, they began to organize into unions. The Changing American Labor Force. A. A New Kind of Workplace.

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chapter 20 section 4 the rise of organized labor

Chapter 20, Section 4: The Rise of Organized Labor

Main Idea: As workers lost power over their working conditions, they began to organize into unions.

a a new kind of workplace
A. A New Kind of Workplace
  • Changed Relations w/ Workers – before CW, most businesses were small, family-run; after, large factories (less employer-worker contact)
  • Dangerous Conditions – owners did little to provide safety for their workers; some were killed or severely injured, others suffered from poor health (lung disease)
  • Children in Industry – in 1900, 2 mill kids under 15 worked; owners hired kids because they worked cheaply; working kids couldn’t go to school, so they had little chance for a better life as an adult
b workers organize
B. Workers Organize
  • Knights of Labor (1869) – skilled & unskilled workers; women & minorities could join too; union was secretive because owners would fire workers who joined unions; Terence Powderly was pres. – wanted shorter work day, end to child labor, equal pay for men & women
  • Trouble for the Knights – Haymarket Riot (Chicago, 1886): Workers at McCormick Harvester Co. go on strike & clash w/ strike breakers. Police open fire in crowd. Workers rally the next day to protest & bomb goes off. Public opinion begins to turn against labor unions because they are associated w/ riots & violence

Knights of Labor

Terence V. Powderly

An injury to one is the concern of all!


Workers Organize

Knights of Labor – formed

in 1869 as the first labor

union in the nation.

Goal #3:

Equal pay for men

and women

Goal #1:

Shorter work day

Goal #2:

End child labor


· On May 3, 1886, striking factory workers clashed with strikebreakers in Chicago.

· Four workers were killed by the police.

· The next day, thousands of people gathered in Haymarket Square to protest the killings.

· A bomb exploded, killing a police officer.

· The police then opened fire, killing ten protesters. This became known as the Haymarket Riot.


Haymarket Riot (1886)

McCormick Harvesting Machine Co.


Working Conditions

· Factory workers, miners and steel workers faced serious injury or death on a daily basis.

· Children worked in many industries, doing dangerous work for low pay.

c american federation of labor
C. American Federation of Labor
  • Samuel Gompers – pres of AFL; skilled workers only, people joined trade unions which belonged to the AFL
  • Goals (more practical than KoL): higher wages, shorter hours, better conditions; used strikes to achieve these goals
  • AFL collected dues & put some of it in a strike fund (workers on strike would get $ from AFL while on strike so they would last longer)

Unions of the AFL - CIO

  • The AFL is an umbrella organization made up of many different trade unions.




United Farm Workers of America

Screen Actors Guild

United Steel Workers of America

American Postal Workers Union

International Association of Firefighters

American Federation of Teachers


Management vs. Labor

“Tools” of Management

“Tools” of Labor

  • “scabs”
  • P. R. campaign
  • Pinkertons
  • lockout
  • blacklisting
  • yellow-dog contracts
  • court injunctions
  • open shop
  • boycotts
  • sympathy demonstrations
  • informational picketing
  • closed shops
  • organized strikes
  • “wildcat” strikes
d strikes
D. Strikes
  • Strikers win little sympathy – many Americans did not support strikes if they were inconvenienced by it; unions had little support from the public or the govt. (were “un-American”)
  • The Pullman Strike – George Pullman cut the pay of his workers, but did not lower the rents they paid for company-owned houses; a federal judge ordered Pullman workers to end strike & leaders of strike were jailed for “violating Sherman Antitrust Act” * major setback for unions
  • Slow Progress – in 1910, only 5% of workers belonged to a union (skilled only)
e women in the labor movement
E. Women in the Labor Movement
  • Many women were employed in textile mills, tobacco factories & the garment (clothing) industry
  • Mother Jones – organized labor movements, paved way for reform (end child labor)
  • ILGWU – International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union

Mother Jones: “The Miner’s Angel”

  • Mary Harris.
  • Organizer for theUnited MineWorkers.
  • Founded the SocialDemocratic Party in 1898.
  • One of the founding members of the I. W. W. in 1905.
f tragedy at the triangle shirtwaist factory
F. Tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
  • Fire Breaks Out – exit doors were locked (to keep workers in), other doors only opened in (workers blocked them), elevators broken, fire escapes inadequate
  • Death Leaps – fire truck ladders couldn’t reach upper floors, people jumped to escape fire (150 dead, mostly young women)
  • Shock Results in Reform – new safety laws to protect workers were passed

Triangle Fire – (1911) One hundred and fifty people, mostly young women, died in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City.

Fire fighters arrived soon after the alarm was sounded but ladders only reached the 6th floor and pumps could not raise water to the highest floors of the 10-story building.  Still the fire was quickly controlled and was essentially extinguished in half an hour.  In this fire-proof building, 146 men, women, and children lost their lives and many others were seriously injured.


The 240 employees sewing shirtwaists on the ninth floor had their escape blocked by back-to-back chairs and workbaskets in the aisles.  The 75-foot long paired sewing machine tables obstructed essential access to the windows, stairs, and elevators.


For endless hours, police officers held lanterns to light the bodies while crowds filed past victims laid out in numbered rough brown coffins.  As the dead were identified the coffin was closed and moved aside.  Forty-three were identified by sunrise on Sunday. Six days later 7 were still unrecognized. 


Few of the terrified workers on the 9th floor knew that a fire escape was hidden behind iron window shutters. The ladder descended next to the building forcing those fleeing to climb down through flames as they struggled past other shutters stuck open across their path.  The design had been deemed inadequate and the material from which it was made was insubstantial.  After a few made their way down, the heat of the fire and weight of the people caused the ladder to twist and collapse dropping many who had chosen it as their lifeline.