American Labor Movement Development Of Unions Essay — страница 3

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particularly strong among textile workers, dock workers, migratory farmers, and lumberjacks. Under the leadership of Eugene V. Debs, they gained particular fame from the Colorado mine clashes of 1903 and the brutal manner in which they were put down. (, 3) The wobblies gained much character after winning the battle and striking against the textile mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 with their peak membership of one hundred thousand. They called for work stoppages in the middle of World War I which led to a government crackdown in 1917, and essentially destroyed them. (Department of Humanities, 3)A powerful reform called Progressivism swept the country in the early years of the twentieth century. The goal of college professors, ministers,

journalist, physicians and social workers was to improve conditions for all Americans. They wanted to make the political system and the economic system more democratic. They were appalled at the fact that Americans were either wealthy or lived a life a poverty. Those who owned the nation?s resources should share some of their wealth with the less fortunate was their theory. The movement appealed to farmers, small businessmen, women, and laborers. (, 3)The progressives were concerned about the country?s labor problems. They disagreed with and were disturbed with the growing use of court rulings to halt strikes. In 1890, Congress passed the Sherman Anti-trust Act which purpose was to punish big business corporations that combined to prevent

competition. However, it seemed to be used more as a weapon against unions. Progressives also were irritated by the use of federal troops and state militia against strikers. (3)Factory conditions still had not improved. The Progressives and the AFL pressured state governments for laws to protect wage earners. Almost all the fifty states passed laws to forbid the hiring of children under fourteen years of age. Thirty-seven states forbade children under sixteen to work between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Nineteen states established the eight-hour day for children under sixteen in factories and stores. Women were also in need of protection for their jobs. Forty-one states wrote new or improved laws to protect women workers, limiting the work day to nine hours or the week to fifty-four hours.

(3)Another problem that had to be handled was the industrial accidents that occurred too often to be ignored. Progressives said the cost of insurance to cover medical bills should be paid by the employers. By 1917, thirteen states had passed workers? compensation laws. Many states also passed laws to improve safety regulations. (3)There was an alliance of Progressives and the AFL because they had similar goals in the improvement of American labor. Congress passed laws as a response to the many requests and demands to protect children, railroad workers, and seamen. A Department of Labor in the president?s Cabinet was established. Congress also passed the extremely important Clayton Act in 1914, which ceased the use of antitrust laws and court injunctions against unions. The

federal government created the War Labor Board during World War I to settle disputes by arbitration. The board made advances in wage increases, the eight-hour work day, and collective bargaining. They favored unions, and this led to a huge increase in the union membership. By January of 1917, the AFL had 2,370,000 members. The number increased, and two years later they had 3,260,000. (3)Throughout the twentieth century, union struggles increased and decreased. During the 1920?s, the economy was high and generally prosperous for all Americans. The Great Depression in the 1930?s was a time of hardship and poverty for many workers. Unions actually benefited with the help of Frankilin D. Roosevelt who promised Americans a “New Deal”. The Wagner Act was passed which guaranteed

workers the right to join unions and bargain collectively. The National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) was formed. The board could hold elections so that workers could vote for the union they wanted to represent them. The board could also stop unfair practices used by employers against unions. America was developing into the country it is today. (4)The purpose and philosophy of a union, that a group is more powerful than any individual, has not changed throughout time. Americans are still fighting for what they believe in. They have been since the development of the country. Americans have realized that working together in unison is important for achieving their goals. The country would not have survived if the people had not compromised and “shared the wealth”. Although we as