History Of The Labor Movement In Th United States

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This is a brief history of the labor movement in the United States from the late eighteen hundreds to the present. In 1881 a movement toward organized labor was beginning to be inforced. A group of people from a few trades and industries such as carpenters, cigar- makers, the printers, merchants, and the steel workers met and formed The Federation of Organized Trades And Labor Unions. Although it had little power, the organization was defanantly and the side as the workers. It stated that a eight hour work day was considered a full day and asked that all affiliated unions include this as part of there law by May 1, 1886. Dispite some success it was felt that the organization needed reorganizing to make it a more effective center for the trade unions. It was now that the American Federation of Labor came to be. Gompers was elected president and was a leader in the national cigar makers union as well. The newly formed American Federation of Labor (AFL) began to recognize that women should be represented through organized unions. In 1894 it adapted a resolution that "women should be organized into trade unions to the end that they may scientifically and permanently abolish the terrible evils accompanying their weakend, unorganized state; and we demand that they receive equal compensation with men for equal services performed." While 8 hour day strike movement was generally peaceful, there was some acts of violence that set the labor movement back. The McCormick Harvester Company in Chicago learned ahead of time of a planned strike and so locked out all its employees who held union cards. Because of this fights broke out and police opened fire on the union members killing four of them. A public rally to protest these killings at Haymarket Square drew a large crowd. When a bomb went off, killing seven police officers and wounding fifty more, the police began to fire into the crowd and several more people were killed and about two-hundred wounded. This incident set the eight -hour-day movement back by a few years. In the early parts of the 20th century, many struggles between unions and corporations over hard work, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions for very low wages were surfacing. One confrontation, that in the end was stoped by a federal court raised many questions about weather the government could simply force union workers to return to work though an injunction. It was the American Railroad Union that boycotted the handaling of Pullman railroad cars and eventualy went on strike. Federal troops were sent in to break up the strike and an injunction forced the wokers back to work. This was becoming a common occurance which became a legal weapon against union organizing and action. A sign of better intervention showed during a strike of the United Mine Workers. The two sides were asked to go to arbitration and eventualy seteled the strike. Moving foward to world war 1, the AFL by helping supply the government with supplies gaind the support of political leaders. But after the war however the labor movement suffered setbacks. The postwar depression brought wages down and caused a major decline in union membership, a loss of about a million members from the years 1920 to 1923. Many employers made use of the work force`s desparate state by making workers sign the "yellow dog contract" in order to get a job. Because this contract prohibited them from joining a union, membership dropped even further. Finaly Roosevelt`s efferts to bring the county out of the depression also helped

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