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Labor in the Progressive Era. after Haymarket. Prepared by Tom Conry, Madison High School Portland, OR. Labor – three possibilities. Moderate – the American Federation of Labor, headed by Samuel Gompers, craft union

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labor in the progressive era

Labor in the Progressive Era

after Haymarket

Prepared by Tom Conry,

Madison High School

Portland, OR

labor three possibilities
Labor – three possibilities
  • Moderate – the American Federation of Labor, headed by Samuel Gompers, craft union
  • Socialists – Socialist Party headed by Eugene Debs, works through elections
  • Radicals – International Workers of the World, headed by “Big Bill” Haywood, wants direct action
american federation of labor afl samuel gompers
American Federation of Labor (AFL)Samuel Gompers
  • Craft union
  • Mostly white men
  • More conservative
  • Wanted shorter hours, higher wages, better working conditions
  • What does labor want? "More“
  • Change will come through collective bargaining
american socialist party eugene debs
American Socialist PartyEugene Debs
  • Learned from failure of 1894 Pullman Strike
  • Formed political party, worked through elections
  • Diverse membership, many women
  • Wanted government ownership of big industry, vote for women, no child labor, right to strike
  • Change will come through elections
industrial workers of the world big bill haywood et al
Industrial Workers of the WorldBig Bill Haywood et al.
  • "The Wobblies"
  • Industrial union, came out of Western mining strikes
  • Especially big in Oregon and Washington
  • Used strikes, boycotts, songs, and education
  • Rejected political parties and elections
  • Change will come through a general strike and the workers will take over
joe hill of the iww wobblies
Joe Hill of the IWW (Wobblies)
  • Swedish immigrant (born Hillstrom)
  • IWW songwriter
  • Framed for murder and executed
  • "Don't mourn – organize!"
elizabeth gurley flynn of the iww the original wobbly rebel girl
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn of the IWWthe original Wobbly "Rebel Girl"
  • Joined the Wobblies at age 16
  • Great public speaker
  • Helped to organize the 1912 Lawrence, Mass. "Bread and Roses" strike
  • A founder of the American Civil Liberties Union
what the wobblies wanted
What the Wobblies wanted
  • Against capitalism
  • Revolutionary union
  • “One big union”
  • Workers should own industries
  • Distrust of electoral politics
  • Work toward a national general strike

What will kill capitalism?

Why is the caption in Italian?

supreme court decisions against labor
Supreme Court decisions against labor
  • Based on “liberty of contract” doctrine (14th and 5th Amendments)
  • Lochner v. New York (1905) states were not allowed to restrict work hours
  • Danbury Hatters case (1908) unions were not allowed to boycott
  • Before the Clayton Antitrust Act, striking was against the law
three events revitalize labor
Three events revitalize labor
  • 1902 Anthracite strike (TR supports miners against capital)
  • 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire (sweatshop working conditions exposed)
  • 1912 Bread and Roses textile strike, Lawrence, Massachusetts (high point of the IWW)
king coal
King Coal
  • Used in furnaces for heating
  • Used in stoves for cooking
  • Powered the railroads
  • Powered factories
  • Used in power-generating stations
anthracite operators led by george divine right baer
Anthracite operators led by George “Divine Right” Baer
  • Installed by J.P. Morgan as head of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad
  • Social Darwinist
  • Told TR there was "nothing to negotiate"
how divine right baer got his nickname
How "Divine Right" Baer got his nickname

“The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for, not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given control of the property interests of the country” [open letter to the press during the 1902 strike]

workers demands
Workers’ demands
  • Eight-hour day
  • 10% raise
  • Owners must recognize and bargain with the union
what happened
What happened?
  • United Mine Workers president John Mitchell calls for arbitration (a presidential commission to settle the strike)
  • George “Divine Right” Baer refuses (and insults TR)
  • TR leans on J.P. Morgan to make Baer accept the commission
at the commission baer is disastrous
At the commission, Baer is disastrous
  • Insults TR
  • Gets bad press for the owners by declaring: “They don’t suffer; they can’t even speak English.” (Baer on the miners’ situation)
the result miners win
The result: miners win!
  • The commission accepts most of the union demands (but not union recognition)
  • TR becomes famous for the “square deal”
  • Establishes the principle of presidential intervention in important strikes and labor struggles
why the anthracite strike of 1902 matters previous presidents had sided with capital
Why the Anthracite Strike of 1902 matters:previous presidents had sided with capital
  • Andrew Jackson in 1834 sent troops to break strike on the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
  • War Department employees took over the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad during the Civil War
  • Rutherford B. Hayes sent troops to break the Great Railroad Strike of 1877
  • Grover Cleveland used troops to break the Pullman Strike of 1894
now tr was offering a square deal to both management and labor
Now TR was offering a “Square Deal” to both management and labor

The "Square Deal" – Reforms increase Federal Power, ended Laissez Faire

"Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense."... "We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less.""The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us."

--New York State Fair, Syracuse September 7, 1903

the disaster that ended tammany hall
The Disaster that Ended Tammany Hall
  • 146 dead, mostly young women
  • Most are Jewish or Italian Catholics
  • Doors were locked
  • People saw that machine politics were inadequate
lawrence 1912 what happened
Lawrence 1912 – what happened?
  • American Woolen Company speeded up production and reduced wages
  • Mostly women workers
  • Diverse immigrant workforce
  • IWW asked to organize strike
how the iww organized
How the IWW organized
  • Set up democratic committee of 50 workers, all nationalities
  • Union supplied food and fuel for 50,000 workers
  • Governor declared martial law
  • IWW says: "Bayonets cannot weave cloth"
the children s exodus
The Children's Exodus
  • Company tries to starve workers
  • IWW & Socialist Party sends children out of town to other workers
  • New law: no children can leave
how the strikers won
How the strikers won
  • Elizabeth Gurley Flynn takes children out (against the law)
  • Police beat women and children in front of cameras
  • Police riot enrages public
  • American Woolen Company forced to raise wages
bread and roses 1912 strike song
Bread and Roses (1912) strike song


James Oppenheim, 1912


As we go marching, marching in the beauty of the day,A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts grayAre touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses, For the people hear us singing:"Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!"

As we go marching, marching we battle too for men,For they are women's children and we mother them again.Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes.Hearts starve as well as bodies;give us bread but give us roses.


As we go marching, marching we battle too for men,For they are women's children and we mother them again.Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes.Hearts starve as well as bodies;give us bread but give us roses.

As we go marching, marching unnumbered woman deadGo crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too!


As we go marching, marching we bring the greater days.The rising of the women means the rising of the race,No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposesBut a sharing of life's glories:Bread and roses! Bread and roses!