American Labor Movement Development Of Unions Essay — страница 2

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(1)The first large national labor organization to become popular was the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor. It was founded in 1869 by garment workers in Philadelphia who believed that one union of skilled and unskilled workers should exist. The union was originally a secret, but later was open to all workers, including blacks, women and farmers. Five hundred thousand workers joined in a year. Their goals were an eight-hour work day, a minimum wage, arbitration rather than strikes, health and safety laws, equal pay for equal work, no child labor under the age of fourteen, and government ownership of railroads, telegraphs and telephones. However, the Knights of Labor was a relatively weak organization, and eventually fell apart. (www.planetpapers.com/ Assets/306.shtml,

2)In 1886, the American Federation of Labor (AF of L) was formed and replaced the Knights of Labor. Its leader was former cigar union official Samuel Gompers who only wanted to focus on skilled workers. (www.planetpapers.com/Assets/306.shtml, 2)The founders were quoted as saying, “the various trades have been affected by the introduction of machinery, the subdivision of labor, the use of women?s and children?s labor and the lack of an apprentice system so that the skilled trades were rapidly sinking to the level of pauper labor. To protect the skilled labor of America from being reduced to beggary and to sustain the standard of American workmanship and skill, the trade unions of America have been established.” (AFL-CIO American Federationalist, 1) The AF of L was a

conglomeration of twenty-five unions that included three hundred thousand workers working for increasing wages, reducing hours, and improving working conditions. (AFL-CIO American Federationalist, 2)Gompers believed that everyone should receive equal pay for equal work, and that everyone?s rights should be protected. He also thought the unions should be primarily concerned with the day-to-day welfare of the members and should not become involved with politics. He also thought that socialism would not succeed in the United States. “Bread and butter” unionism was the term given to his philosophies that higher wages and fewer working hours could achieve the goal of a better life for the working people. (www.planetpapers.com/Assets/306.shtml, 2)Laborer?s goals and the

unwillingness of capital to grant them resulted in many violent labor conflicts and strikes. The first of these occurred with the Great Rail Strike of 1877. Rail workers all over the United States went on strike due to a ten percent pay reduction. (www.planetpapers.com/Assets/306.shtml, 2) Rioting and destruction of several cities surfaced with the efforts to stop the strike. Federal troops had to be sent in at several locations to end the strike such as Baltimore, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; and San Francisco, California. (Department of Humanities, 2)The Haymarket Square incident took place nine years later in 1886. On May 1, many workers struck for shorter hours. A group of radicals and anarchists became involved in this campaign.

Two days later, a death occurred from shooting during a riot in the McCormick Harvester plant in Chicago when police arrived and tangled in the chaos. On May 4, a bomb exploded in Haymarket Square during a meeting called to discuss the events of the preceding day. (James Connolly Society, 1) Nine people died, including eight police officers, and some sixty were wounded. (Department of Humanities, 2)The next riots came in 1892, at Carnegie?s steel works in Homestead, Pennsylvania. The company hired three hundred Pinkerton detectives to break a strike by the Amalgamated Association of Iron. Steel and tin workers were fired upon and ten were killed. The National Guard was called in to resolve the situation. Non-union workers were hired and the strike was broken. Unions were not

allowed back into the plant until 1937. (2)Two years later, a strike in the Pullman Palace Car company came about as a result of wage cuts. The American Railway union joined the strike, and much of the country?s rail system was not running. Over three thousand men were trusted by General Richard Olney to keep the rails open. The federal court gave a court order against union interference with the trains since they were an important and necessary vehicle in transportation, and the strike was eventually broken. (2-3)The most militant of the strike-prone unions was the International Workers of the World (IWW), commonly known as “wobblies”. (3) They formed in 1905 in Chicago as a combination of unions fighting for better conditions in the West?s mining industry. The IWW was