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Unions and strikes . A presentation by Gerrit Koepping. Without unions. Employees and employers negotiate salaries and benefits individually This sometimes meant that employers could play employees against each other (Oh, you want $10 an hour? Well, John will work for $9 an hour)

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Unions and strikes

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unions and strikes

Unions and strikes

A presentation by Gerrit Koepping

without unions
Without unions

Employees and employers negotiate salaries and benefits individually

This sometimes meant that employers could play employees against each other (Oh, you want $10 an hour? Well, John will work for $9 an hour)

Would also employ women or children to drive down labor costs

Wages, hours, days off, job security, pensions, benefits were all less secure

Labor costs/prices were lower

what is a union
What is a Union?

Workers join together to collectively negotiate their wages, hours, benefits, working conditions, etc. . .

Once a union is established then a company’s employees must join the union to work for the company

Employees pay the union monthly dues

what if the company refuses
What if the company refuses?


Workers stop working for the company and try to stop the company from producing its goods

why not just hire new workers
Why not just hire new workers?

Hard to do if workers have specific skills

Picket lines – factory entrances are blocked by striking workers

Publicity to try to pressure a company to concede to union demands

Violence – sometimes unions would attack replacement workers (“scabs”)

Sometimes companies would hire their own thugs to attack strikers – sometimes the government would help

labor in the 1800s
Labor in the 1800s

Post Civil-War Industrialization meant the skilled labor could be replaced with unskilled labor

The Knights of St Crispin was the first nationwide labor movement The Knights were bootmakers and shoemakers who organized in the 1870s to oppose competition from machine-made products made by unskilled labor

A successful (though violent) labor strike for railroad workers in 1885 encouraged other workers to unionize

knights of labor
Knights of Labor

First Labor Union to remain active for more than a few years

Were tailors who formed a secret society in 1869, and grew to a nationwide organization in 1880’s

Grew to include all types of workers

Proposed laws to cut workday to eight hours, and equal pay for men and women

“Mother Jones”

american federation of labor

Replaced the Knights of Labor in the 1880s as the leading union of its time

Tried to organize skilled workers

Advocated for improved wages and hours using strikes && boycotts

American federation of labor
the haymarket riot
The Haymarket Riot

Following the death of four strikers at police hands about 1,000 factory workers protest in Haymarket Square in Chicago in May 1886

Someone in the crowd throws a bomb killing 7 police and injuring 67 bystanders

Police fire on crowd killing 10 and wounding 50

8 Radical strike leaders prosecuted, 4 executed

Turns public sympathy against strikers

protests and resistance

Homestead Strike- 1892- Carnegie Steel Company reduced its wages- Violence between strikers and Pinkerton guards – strike fails when workers quit union

Coeur d’Alene Disputes between mine owners and miners (Coeur d’Alene was a mining region) – twice federal troops are called in to break up the strikes

Protests and resistance
more of the same

The Pullman Strike- Pullman sleeping train company has a “model industrial village”

They strike when Pullman lowers wages and fires many workers

American Railway Workers refuse to handle trains that have Pullman Cars

US army disperses strikers, as requested by RR industry leaders – railway traffic comes to a halt in he Midwest

Supreme Court upholds President’s right to issue an injunction, an order to end a strike

…More of the same
obstacles to unity
Obstacles to Unity

Most unions didn’t include women, members of minority groups, and unskilled workers (only 1 in every 33 workers was a member of a union)

African Americans could only join separate, local unions

Hostility towards immigrants

Exclusion act of 1882- halted immigration of Chinese workers and gained wide support from American labor unions

Obstacles to unity

Stood for restricted immigration

Reformers believed that farmers and workers should be freed from the exploitative practices of banks, railroads, and merchants.

Convert the US to the silver standard – to cause inflation

Largely a rural movement

farmers and the populists
Farmers and the populists

Improved farming technology meant that farmers produced more and more food – driving down prices

Individual farmers responded to falling prices by growing more food to cover the losses coming from falling prices

To buy more land, to grow more food they borrowed money – Banks become the enemy

To get that food to the urban markets they need the railroad – Railroads become the enemy

the grange
The Grange

By 1875 about 1 million members

Demanded regulation of railroad rates

Creation of agriculture colleges

Formed cooperatives to pool goods, sell to larger buyers, purchase seed and machinery in bulk, pooled credit

populists political fate
Populists political fate

In 1892, gained 14 seats in Congress and two governorships

By 1896 election the populists had faded especially when Democrats start demanding the coinage of silver – The Democratic Candidate William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska demands “free silver”

Republican William McKinley wins the cities and the presidency with his warnings against radicalism

1898 – Gold discovered in Alaska

populists and race class
Populists and race, class

Efforts to unite farmers under their economic interests ran into a problem in the South where whites feared empowering black farmers and sharecroppers

Also hindering the populists was a shift in political power and population from rural, agricultural America to urban, industrialized America