Dbq Essay On Labor Unions

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Matt Strigenz
Mr. Haindfield, pd. 5
APUSH Reaction Paper #10

The chief political issue of the late 1800s was working conditions for laborers. Big businesses, having sought to cut costs however possible, created horrible working conditions for laborers. In an effort to improve these conditions, workers waged strikes and formed labor unions, so that they might gain some semblance of bargaining power. However the fight to improve conditions for workers was largely ineffective thanks to public support of big business, disorganization amongst labor unions, and the negative connotation that came to be associated with labor unions. The American public supported big business in almost every conflict involving big business and…show more content…

Worker’s wages did increase roughly three cents per day during this time period, but this can be attributed more to inflation rather than some hard-won victory by labor unions (Source A). The term “labor union” was broad in its definition, and this hurt worker’s effectiveness in accomplishing their often ill-defined goals in the long run. The term labor union could be used to describe no small number of things. Did it talk about unions such the AFL, which only skilled craftsmen such as lawyers or mechanics? Or was it referring to the Knights of Labor, which accepted anyone who wished to join? These different unions also had different goals many times. The AFL, for example, strived only for an 8 hour workday, safer conditions, and better wages, while the KoL focused on political issues such as women’s rights as well. This had the unfortunate effect of being used as a weapon against labor unions by people who did not support them, such as political cartoons in newspapers, etc (Source F). Membership was also an issue of labor unions. Some unions only accepted skilled craftsmen, so that they might be able to more effectively strike. This also limited the amount of people available to join the union, and so directly hurt their bargaining power. Others were willing to accept any and all members, like the Knights of Labor, in order to swell their numbers.

Apush Labor Union Dbq Essay

809 WordsFeb 13th, 20124 Pages

The 1800s is characterized with the rise of industrial America. As technological advances were introduced to industry, unskilled labor also rose in accordance to the rise in factories. However, this rise also introduced several labor unions such as the Knights of Labor, which organized a series of protests and riots. The labor unions had good intentions, aiming to lower the average work hours for workers, as well as increase their wages. However, their methods which involved riots and protests, were altogether not effective, and ended up being detrimental to their cause. Between 1875 and 1900, labor unions surged and were temporarily successful; however, their methods would prove detrimental to their cause overtime, leading to their…show more content…

Despite being able to cause a small improvement in workers’ pay and hours, labor unions ultimately died out by the 1900s due to their methods. Unable to truly focus on the plight of skilled workers, most labor unions instead focused on that of unskilled workers, pushing aside the skilled workers. (Doc D). The actions of labor unions ended up being counterproductive, forcing companies to wage war against the labor unions. These stricter contracts such as that of Western Union Telegraph Company, forced workers to affiliate themselves against labor unions. (Doc E) One important thing to note is that the workers’ rights advocates were never able to coincide on one factor. As evidenced in an illustration in 1887, labor unions had to compete with other movements such as socialism, anarchism, and other labor unions. (Doc F). Because of this, the media, although recognizing the labor union movement, began viewing the labor unions as dangerous entities. Although the initial strikes such as the Wabash strike were successful, the ones that followed proved detrimental to the movement, and caused the steady decline of the labor unions. Because some of the strikes were dangerous, many strikes resulted in the deaths of those involved, such as the Homestead Crisis, and Pinkerton (Doc G). Combined with events such as the Wildcat strike, Haymarket strike, the Pullman Strike, the public began to associate a negative

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