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Labor Unions Dbq

Essay by   •  February 14, 2012  •  Essay  •  554 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,632 Views

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During the years of 1875 - 1900 our nation was undergoing a big change in advancement of technology. Our nation was experiencing both a time for prosperity and a time for poverty. Although many people made it big from either rags to riches or by means of corruption and bribery, all of the rich people were making all of their money because of their workers. Many people working during this time was working in harsh conditions to make money enough to support their family. This resulted in the creation of organized labor, or labor unions. Many of these labor unions were unable to improve working conditions for the workers. The labor unions were unsuccessful because of failure of strikes, competition between skilled and unskilled workers, and the lack of governmental support.

In July 18, 1877 the Great Rail Road Strike took place because the four largest rail road companies decided to cut down 20% of workers income (B). At first the people felt some sympathy for the workers because of the 20% cut down on income. But when the rioters attacked the militia, sent there to break up the strike, the people's views of the unions changed. They thought that all unions were radicals. Another great strike that failed was the Homestead Strike (G). 300 Pinkerton Detectives were sent to the Carnegie steel plant of Homestead. The 300 Pinkerton detectives were faced against rioters with rifles, and they were defeated. Then troops were sent down to suppress the angered strikers. All of the organized strikes failed due to the fact that troops had suppressed the strikes before the demands that were put forward could be met.

Many employers didn't think much of their workers and thought of them as machines to make their money. Before machines were made there was a skill set for every job and people who had those skill set were skilled workers. On the other hand there were the unskilled workers who had no skills set. It was much cheaper for the employer to hire the unskilled workers because machines needed no skill to operate. In most cases the skilled workers blended in with the unskilled workers to find jobs since skilled workers were no longer needed when the industry was introduced with machines. Many companies began to include the Yellow dog contract when they hired workers (E). This contract made sure that the employee had no associations with any organized unions or if they did join this meant that they were fired.

The government showed no support for any of the strikes organized by the workers. In 1895 the Supreme Court ruled that the national government had jurisdiction in able to regulate interstate commerce, especially when commerce was carried upon rail roads. Because strikes stopped commerce from state to state and also interrupted the mail service, the government was able to stop strikes by the power of the Constitution. Since the United States of America is a Capitalist government, the government has showed no intentions of

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