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Industrialization and Workers. Ch 6, Sec 3 & 4. Factory Workers. Boom in workforce mid to late 1800s. Urbanization and large immigrant population. 10-12 hours/day, 6 days/week. Paid by piecework – paid by number of completed products.

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factory workers
Factory Workers
  • Boom in workforce mid to late 1800s.
    • Urbanization and large immigrant population.
  • 10-12 hours/day, 6 days/week.
  • Paid by piecework – paid by number of completed products.
  • Worked in sweatshops – long hours, low pay, poor working conditions.

Efficiency studies by Frederick Winslow Taylor led to division of labor.

    • Production divided up into small parts, each person does on part over and over.
    • Made businesses very efficient; low skill level, low pay.
  • Few safety measures in factories; hot, loud, dangerous.
  • Due to low pay, wives and children worked.
    • 1 in 5 kids aged 10-16 was employed.
unions and strikes
Unions and Strikes
  • 1890-Richest 9% of Americans held 75% of wealth.
    • Led to resentment and anger.
  • Many began to support philosophy of Socialism.
    • Public control of factors of production, not private.
    • Wealth should be spread evenly to all.
  • Socialist ideas led to creation of labor unions.

Unions formed to help workers in hard times.

    • Changed to become a way for workers to give demands to employers.
      • Higher pay, shorter hours, better conditions, etc.
  • 1869, Knights of Labor union formed to organize allinto single union.
    • Wanted equal pay for equal work (women, minorities), 8-hour workday, no child labor.
    • Peaked at 700,00 members, then declined and disappeared in 1890’s.

1886, Samuel Gompers founded American Federation of Labor (AFL).

    • Craft Union – Only skilled workers in a network of smaller unions, each devoted to a specific craft.
  • Wanted better wages, hours, conditions.
  • Used strikes, boycotts, collective bargaining.
    • Workers negotiate as a group with employers.
  • AFL was very effective and successful.

1877, railroad workers struck to protest wage cuts and unsafe conditions.

    • Destroyed railroad property, US president sent troops to restore order.
  • Eugene V. Debs organized the American Railway Union.
    • Industrial union – workers from all crafts in a given industry.
  • Debs was opposed to violent strikes, preferred peaceful protests.

Industrial Union

Eugene V. Debs


Employers disliked and feared unions.

  • Tried to stop unions by:
    • Forbidding union meetings.
    • Firing union organizers.
    • Forcing new employees to sign contracts promising not to join unions or strike.
    • Refusing to collectively bargain.
    • Refusing to recognize unions as workers’ representatives.

1881-1900 – 24,000 strikes.

  • Haymarket Riot, 1886 – national protest for 8 hour workday led to strikes.
    • Chicago-fight between strikers and scabs led to union protest in Haymarket Square.
    • Someone threw a bomb and killed cops, led to open riot with dozens dead.
    • Knights of Labor blamed.
    • 4 anarchists hanged, 1 killed self, 3 let go.

Homestead Strike, 1892 – Carnegie’s partner Henry Clay Frick tried to cut wages at Homestead, Pennsylvania mill.

    • Led to huge strike.
    • Frick sent in Pinkertons to break strike; gunfight, many killed.
    • Anarchist Alexander Berkman tried and failed to kill Frick.
      • Public opinion turned against strikers.
    • Strike ended against workers 3 months after start.

Pullman Strike, 1894 – George Pullman built luxury railroad cars, and a town for his workers.

    • 1893, cut wages 25%, kept rent and food prices same.
    • Caused local union to strike.
      • Pullman shut down factory, refused to bargain.
    • ARU led nationwide Pullman strike, 260,000 workers.
      • Blocked mail delivery, fed gov’t got involved.
    • Citing Sherman Anti-Trust Act, railroads got court order to end strike, President Cleveland sent troops to enforce.