From the years 1875 through 1900 many organized labor unions and strikes occurred. The point of these strikes and labor unions was to eliminate such long hours and low wages that many laborers of that time had to endure. The labor unions demanded eight hour workdays. The labor unions and strikes also worked to eliminate many other hardships that laborers had. The labor unions and strikes were not successful. The only thing they really achieved was in bringing attention to the plight of the worker as well as bringing attention to child labor. However, in their demands for better wages and an eight hour workday, they were unsuccessful. Furthermore, during this time period, the companies and employers enjoyed an improvement in the methods of production in machinery, while at the same time hardly losing anything to these strikes; at most having to agree to pay a little more wages to their workers. However, the eight hour workday was not an effect of the labor unions and strikes of 1875-1900.
One reason and factor to why the labor unions and strikes were not all that much effective was that the newspapers as well as other propaganda was in general against the labor unions and chose to generally portray them as ignorant and foolish. This can be seen from Thomas Nast’s cartoon in Harper’s Weekly in 1878 where he showed that what the laborers were trying to do was the equivalent of killing the goose that lays the golden egg, with the employers being the goose and the laborers being the killer. Nast portrayed them as being foolish for not realizing that by striking against their employers they would subsequently be “killing” them.
Labor Union A labor union is as defined in the dictionary, an organization of wage earners formed for the purpose of serving the members' interests with respect to wages and working condition. There are people favor union’s formation and people against the formation of labor unions. Even though there are many difficulties in organizing labor union, the union was successful in late 1800s. Today ...
Another reason why the labor unions and strikes were not effective was because there were too many different groups that were working to help labor interests. This led to ineffectiveness as the different groups kept getting in each others way. This is illustrated in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in 1887 in which he shows many “cooks” (groups supporting laborers) fighting over the “labor interest broth”. This picture shows that while these groups kept fighting with each other, they were not taking care of the broth.
Another reason why the labor union and strikes were not effective was because of the radical ways through which the strikes were conducted. The strikes could sometimes get so radical that it could lead to violence and sometimes even killing. This can be seen from the Haymarket Riot in which someone threw a bomb into a crowd of policemen. This led to gunfire, the death of eight policemen, multiple civilians, and four anarchists being tried for murder. In general, when groups start to become radical, popular support for that group and that group’s interests decline.
Another incident in which there was radical rioting and violence was the Homestead Riot in Pittsburgh, PA in 1892. The striking laborers attacked a group of policemen and detectives which resulting in mass firings of guns and people killings. This can be seen from the Coroner’s list of the people that were killed there that day, in which he reported that eleven were killed as well as others that did not have official notification of their death.
Another result of radical rioting was that it caught the serious attention of the federal government. Whereas before, the federal government would have been more susceptible to allowing the employers and laborers and work out themselves, now the federal government was forced to join and to start taking action. Thus, when the laborers starting to mess around with the railroad tracks the Supreme Court vehemently declared in 1895 that they have the right to put down such actions by these protestors. The effects of this declaration led to the federal government being sided with the employers and more importantly, against the laborers. This made it much harder for the laborers to get their requests granted.
While researching this paper I came across a very interesting article. In the November 2000 issue of Reason magazine, Michael McMenamin leads with the following paragraph: Organized labor was a one-century phenomenon. Look it up. Union members were only 9.5% of the private sector work force in 1999, down from a peak of 37% 40 years earlier. The last time union membership was so low was in 1902, ...
The only thing that kept the labor unions and strikes from being absolutely ineffective was that the laborers were very determined and that they had a large support group. Even though they weren’t achieving nearly as close to how much they wanted to, the laborers were very persistent and were supported in their actions. This can be seen an editorial in The New York Times in 1877 where it stated that even though people involved in the strike were too ignorant to know what they were doing, as can be seen from the riots in Baltimore and Ohio Road, the people running the strikes were bold and determined and had a large support of the people around them.
The effects of this persistency resulted in a slight raise in daily wages and slight decrease in the average daily hours. This can be seen from the historical statistics of the United States where it shows overall increases in daily wages and overall decreases in average daily work hours. Even though there were overall increases in daily wages and overall decreases in average daily work hours, these changes were slight and not nearly even close to what the laborers had been expecting. In fact, these changes can most probably be characterized as more of a win for the capital than the laborers as this enabled the laborers to come back to work without the capital having to give in to too much.
In 1883, the Western Union Telegraph Company made an employee contract that included a paragraph that said that the employee would not be allowed to be affiliated at all with any unions if they wanted to work there. This showed that the labor movement of 1875-1900 had reached a new low. The fact that the Western Union Telegraph Company felt that they were able to have this paragraph in there employee contracts, even though there were strikes going on shows that the efforts of the unions and strikes were futile and were not being taken seriously.
Perceiving and interpreting Karl Marxs works, Capital in particular, the majority of scientists and analysts faced the problem weather to choose philosophical or economic approaches in understanding Marx. Practically both chosen approaches define applications of Marxs philosophy, theory of capital, class struggle, distribution of wealth, etc. Careful analysis shows that Marxs postulates should be ...
Another action by the capital that showed that the efforts of the unions and strikes were futile and were not being taken seriously can be seen from the testimony of a machinist before the Senate Committee on Labor and Capital. In the testimony, he stated that improvements in the methods of production are always being made and thus resulting in all improvements and benefits going to the employer while all the injuries and disadvantages of these improvements going to the employees. The labor union tried to strike against thisNO BIBLIOGRAPHY