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Labor Union Movement

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Carolina Jimenez

on 19 December 2014

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Transcript of Labor Union Movement

By: Joanna Roecker, Rocky McAndrew, Janna Chahbaz, Rebecca Russell, Carolina Jimenez, and Matthew Noriega
Knights of Labor
Samuel Gompers
Child Labor
Women Workers
Advancements and Gains
Recent Events
Labor Union Movement
Unsafe Working Conditions

machinery cut off limbs and fingers, crushed hands, and pulled hair
children experienced spin curvature
long work hours caused exhaustion, workers became distracted, more injuries
limited or no breaks during long work shifts
small children used for tight machinery
limited or no compensation for injuries
Unfair Pay

Federal Minimum Wage every 10 years
1938 -$00.25
as labor unions grew, so did minimum wage
low pay meant workers could not afford basic neccessities
workers needed to be paid more for dangerous

Born in 1850 into a Jewish family in London, Gompers began making cigars alongside his father at the age of 10
immigrated to New York City 1863
Gompers died in December 1924 in San Antonio, Texas, where he had been rushed after falling ill in Mexico City while attending the inauguration of the new president of Mexico.
First and longest president of the AFL
It grew from a marginal association of 50,000 in 1886 to an established organization of nearly 3 million in 1924 that had won a permanent place in American society

Gompers was elected president of the reorganized Local 144 of the Cigar Makers' International Union (CMIU) in New York City
When the FOTLU re-organized in 1886 as the American Federation of Labor, Gompers was elected its first president, a position he held for nearly 40 years.
when Gompers and the federation enacted much of their program and enjoyed their greatest influence
During World War I, Wilson appointed Gompers to the Council of National Defense, where he helped mobilize labor support for the war
Labor union membership soared by the end of the war, reaching into the millions. At the war's end, Wilson appointed Gompers to the Commission on International Labor Legislation at the Versailles Peace Conference, where Gompers helped create what would become the International Labor Organization (ILO).
the labor policies forged in this period laid the basis for the New Deal endorsements of labor rights in the 1930s.

“What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.”
"Show me the country that has no strikes and I'll show you the country in which there is no liberty."
Significant Strikes
Great Southwest Railroad Strike
Period: March to September, 1886
Affected area: Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Texas
In 1886, the Knights of Labor went on strike at the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads
Hundreds of thousands of workers across five states refused to work, citing unsafe conditions and unfair hours and pay
The strike suffered from a lack of commitment from other railroad unions, the successful hiring of nonunion workers by Gould and from violence and scare tactics
Great Anthracite Coal Strike
Period: May to October, 1902
Affected area: Eastern Pennsylvania
At the turn of the last century, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) began a strike that threatened to create an energy crisis
Industrialist and financier J.P. Morgan believed the strike could threaten his businesses and made a deal with the union
The UMWAs initial demands were for a 20% wage increase
Railroad Shop Workers Strike of 1922
Period: July to October, 1922
Affected area: nationwide
In 1922, the railroad labor board announced that wages for railroad shop workers would be cut by 7 cents
The great American railroads responded, immediately employing non union workers to replace three-quarters of the empty positions
The unions knew the ban put an end to their efforts and settled in October for a 5 cent pay cut and went back to work
How the organization began
Formation and Early Years:
the heads of the five labor organizations were convinced that no accommodation with the leadership of the Knights of Labor was possible.
they issued a new call for a convention to be held on December 8, 1886 in Columbus, Ohio in order to construct "an American federation of alliance of all national and international trade unions."
Forty-two delegates representing 13 national unions and various other local labor organizations responded to the call, agreeing to form themselves into an American Federation of Labor.

a refusal to work organized by a body of employees as a form of protest, typically in an attempt to gain a concession or concessions from their employer
unions used strikes as an attempt to persuade their company owners and the public to agree with their demands during the late 1800s and early 1900s
not all strikes are violent, not all are peaceful
obviously, owners did not appreciate their workers going on strike since they temporarily lost their workforce
"scabs" were hired to replace workers on strike
laborers could be fired for striking under specific circumstances


Causes for Opposition

worker abuse
low wages and long hours
unsafe working conditions
no time to learn
sick from work
fighting amongst workers


1836 First state child labor law
1842 States begin limiting children’s work days
1881 Newly formed AFL supports state minimum age laws
1892 Democrats adopt union recommendations
1916 New federal law sanctions state violators
1936 Federal purchasing law passes
1938 Fair Labor Standards Act
Benefitting Labor Unions

In 1902 Maryland became the first state to pass a law providing accident compensation regardless of fault, but the law was declared unconstitutional in 1904 by the state supreme court.
Supporters of workmen's compensation asserted that the potential savings in premiums would more than cover the costs of necessary safety improvements, making it in the employers' own best economic interest to reduce accident rates.
In 1908 the federal government established a very limited compensation system for its employees which, in combination with the growing movement for compensation as a preventive measure, helped spur the states to action.
In May 1911 Wisconsin became the first state to establish a workmen's compensation system. Nine other states passed compensation laws that year, three in 1912, and eight more in 1913. By 1921, 46 jurisdictions had workmen's compensation laws in force
In 1907 Massachusetts created a state board of steam boiler rules after two disastrous explosions
The Wisconsin Safe Place Statute of 1911 required employers to furnish employment and a place of employment, in which workers' lives, limbs, health and comfort would, within reasonable limits, be protected
Illinois Occupational Disease Act of 1911 helped establish the problem of industrial disease as a matter for public concern and helped to alleviate the problem in a number of ways
Hurting Labor Unions

1915 Yellow-dog contracts allowed employers to fire laborers for entering a union
welfare capitalism persuaded laborers away from joining unions with benefits like dental plans, health care benefits, company-run unions, sports teams, etc.
The American Plan intended to destroy unions using blacklisting, yellow-dog contracts, and company spies


First known as the Noble and Holy order of the knights of labor
As early since the 1790s shoemakers in Philadelphia joined and tried to maintain a price structure  and resist cheaper competition.
In the 1820s, a Mechanics Union was formed that attempted to unite the efforts of more than a single craft.
The Knights of Labor was founded on December 28, 1869, when both American capitalism and the labor movement were young and relatively disorganized.
By the 1880s The Knights were considered by many to be Industrial Workers of the World
KOL called for the abolition of the wage system and fought to organize all workers into one big union, including women and immigrant

Terence Vincent Powderly was an Irish-American politician and labor union leader, best known as head of the Knights of Labor in the late 1880s.
A lawyer, he was elected mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania for six years.
The Knights promoted the social and cultural uplift of the workingman, rejected Socialism and radicalism, demanded the eight-hour day, and promoted the producers ethic of republicanism.
In some cases it acted as a labor union, negotiating with employers, but it was never well organized, and after a rapid expansion in the mid-1880s, it suddenly lost its new members and became a small operation again.
Leanora Barry

She took a job in an Amsterdam hosiery factory where she faced harsh conditions, long hours, and low pay
Found herself working upwards of 70 hours a week,
only eleven cents her first day and only 65 cents her first week
Barry joined the local women’s branch of the Knights of Labor in 1884,
Barry, who had been forced into factory labor because of economic necessity, represented the organization’s ideal working woman.
she was the first woman to be paid to be a labor investigator and organizer
Barry always kept moving forward amidst setbacks, and she willingly made personal sacrifices for the cause in which she believed.
Mary "Mother" Jones

Yellow fever killed husband and four children
“cause of the children”
"Child labor is docile ... It does not strike. There are no labor troubles."
called for a federal child labor law to protect children from exploitation
1903, Kensington, Pennsylvania
Had to send their young children to work to get money for food
Asked local papers to publish the facts about child labor in Pennsylvania

Violence by pro-labor unions

Union thugs have vandalized equipment, torched buildings, and even murdered people, for the simple act of working non-union
There have been more than 50,000 incidents of union violence over the past 40 years
Union violence investigations have determined that union violence is responsible for at least 203 Americans deaths since 1975
The first tragedy to put labor unions squarely within the national consciousness was the Haymarket Square Massacre of May 4, 1886, in which striking union workers threw a bomb at Chicago police, killing eight police officers and countless civilians, after being incited to their lethal rampage by socialist Samuel Fielden
A bomb explodes at the headquarters of the stridently anti-union Los Angeles Times, killing twenty people. Eventually two men connected with the Iron Workers Union, which has been implicated in other bombings, will confess to dynamiting the Times.

Violence by anti-labor

Countless victims have lost their property, their health, their livelihoods, and even their lives to union violence
A labor rally at the Haymarket Square in Chicago, called in support of the eight-hour day, erupts into chaos when an unknown party tosses a bomb at police, who then fire into the crowd The incident stains labor's image and creates turmoil within the movement

Accomplishments and Setbacks

The AFL reached a zenith of sorts during the years of World War I.
AFL welcomed governmental intervention in favor of collective bargaining.
During World War I, Wilson appointed Gompers to the Council of National Defense, where he helped mobilize labor support for the war.
the AFL adopted a philosophy of "business unionism" that emphasized unions' contribution to businesses' profits and national economic growth.
the AFL took efforts on behalf of women in supporting protective legislation.
Difficulties: employers had never fully accepted the legitimacy of unions.
AFL met determined opposition from business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Samuel Gompers

The American labor movement owes its structure and characteristic strategies to him
Under his leadership, the AFL became the largest and most influential labor federation in the world.
It grew from a marginal association of 50,000 in 1886 to an established organization of nearly 3 million in 1924 that had won a permanent place in American society.
Gompers sought to build the labor movement into a force powerful enough to transform the economic, social and political status of America's workers.
To secure the rights of labor to organize and engage in economic action, Gompers launched a far-reaching and ultimately successful campaign to elect union members and other labor-friendly candidates to political office.

family who owns Walmart, the Waltons, are mega-billionaires worth more than $144.7 billion, but what you might not know is that Walmart is the the largest private employer in the United States employing over 1.3 million workers.
Walmart will cost the community an additional $14 million in lost wages for the next 20 years. This translates to communities being worse off in the long run when Walmart strolls into town.
Walmart workers in the state rely on at least $9.5 million a year to subsidize medicaid for workers.
Walmart has violated the rights of workers by "unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees" for "having engaged in legally protected strikes and protests" and "in anticipation or response to employees' other protected concerted activities."
Teacher's Union

For the first time in years, contract talks between city and unions show both sides want a deal

Women worked an average of nearly 13 hours a day
much of women's work being irregular
Often women’s wages were thought of as secondary earnings and less important than men’s wages even though they were crucial to the family’s survival
women were paid less than their male counterpart working alongside them, which created great financial difficulties for working women
Women were among the first workers to bear the hardships of the industrial revolution, and among the first to unionize


The Guardians and Wards Act,1890
19th amendment June 4 1920
The Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923
The Trade Unions Act 1926
The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 (19 of 1929)
The Payments of Wages Act, 1936
The Payments of Wages (Procedure) Act, 1937

Historical Events

Unhappy with the discriminatory practices of some employers, women sought protection from these actions by forming unions.
In 1900 the international ladies garment workers union was founded by Jewish and Italian immigrants.
In 1909 a strike of 20,000 garment workers achieved better wages and benefits for employees, as well as union recognition.
In 1903, the Women’s Trade Union League was established.
It was the first national association dedicated to promoting women's labor issues.
They pushed for an eight hour work day, a creation for minimum wage, an end to evening work for women and the abolition for child labor.

Who to Thank

The tremendous gains labor unions experienced in the 1930s resulted, in part, from the pro-union stance of the Roosevelt administration and from legislation enacted by Congress during the early New Deal
Samuel Gompers
Mary Jones

Important Work and Pay Change

The National Industrial Recovery Act (1933) provided for collective bargaining
The 1935 National Labor Relations Act required businesses to bargain in good faith with any union supported by the majority of their employees.
shorter work day

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