Organized Labor From 1875 To 1900

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2000 AP United States History DBQ How successful was organized labor in improving the position of workers in the period from 1875 to 1900? Analyze the factors that contributed to the level of success achieved. In the late 19th century, America was experiencing both a time of prosperity and poverty. Although some of the richest people in history were found in this time period, the majority of the population was a struggling working class. Families worked in terrible conditions, and were struggling to make ends meet. This called for organized labor, or labor unions. However, these labor unions proved to be rather unsuccessful in improving the position of workers. The unsuccessfulness of the labor unions occurred because of the initial failure…show more content…
Labor Union strikes were the most prominent form of worker insurrection against employers. During the period of 1875-1900, many labor unions participated in strikes, however many of them failed to achieve their goals. The biggest reason that farmers and workers went on strike was clearly stated by a machinist before the Senate Committee on Labor and Capital. Because machines were taking jobs away, workers would lose their livelihood, and most likely their only source of income. In the year of 1877, employees working for the four largest railroads went on strike due to the fact that their employers cut their wages by 10 percent; this was known as the Great Rail Road Strike. This strike was unsuccessful because it got out of hand, and President Hayes called in the federal troops to quell the unrest brought by the striking laborers. Because of the failure of the Great Rail Road…show more content…
Employers had no compassion or empathy for their workers who slaved away in their factories. Because immigrant labor was cheap, it was often exploited by the employer. Workers tried to better the situation by unionizing and have a show of strength with the numbers of workers. The big businesses, used government support to suppress the organization of strikes or work revolts. However, when unions rised up and demanded fair wages, employers would have to consider these demands and negotiations would have to take place. This is one of the reasons why companies, such as the Western Union Telegraph Company, would demand employees to sign a contract which would allow them to fire employees who join labor unions, this was also known as a yellow dog contract or ironclad oath. In 1890 the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was signed into Law. The Anti-Trust Act had many loopholes, and big businesses turned it around in their favor, against the workers, who it was supposed to help. This was used to curb labor unions that were deemed to be restraining

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