A look at the union movement of the late 19th century

In a free society, some form of majority rule is the most logical application of governance. For centuries, workers have organized under the same principles of majority rule in order to use the collective power of the group to create greater leverage with their employers.

A look at the union movement of the late 19th century

Notes Labor unions have been defined as "private combinations of workingmen" that try to increase wages and improve working conditions for members. What means do labor unions use? As Henry George suggests, trade unionists are hardly known for their kindness to strangers and genteel ways.

From colonial times, trade unionists found the going difficult in North America. There was no prevailing ideology of "working-class solidarity," and unions were far from respectable; in fact, they had a well-earned reputation for being antisocial, even criminal.

Some unions were secret societies with secret oaths, and unionists engaged in intimidation, threats, vandalism, and violence, especially against uncooperative workers denounced as subhuman "scabs" and "blacklegs.

History of Labor Unions

Courts of law were not fond of union methods either, and employers, consumers, and workers often resisted "militant" unions. Competition from imported goods made life difficult too. Some workers were intensely anti-union, not just employers. America was an open society, a frontier society, farm-dominated, sprawling, and free, and wages often were double those paid in England because labor was so scarce here.

Although no reliable statistics are available, union membership probably remained below one percent of the work force most years from colonial times to the s. If a union declared and lost a strike, it usually collapsed and disappeared.

Most unions failed during business downturns as jobs, union membership, and revenue declined. While wage rates fell elsewhere in response to depressed business conditions, unions stubbornly insisted on maintaining wage rates "wage rigidity"intensifying their own failure.

As nonunion labor became less expensive more "affordable" and induced more hiring, production costs fell, thereby reducing unemployment. Such wage-price flexibility shortened business downturns by expanding output and employment, thereby acting as "shock absorbers" in the economy.

History of the United States (–) - Wikipedia

In the vast sweep of the early American economy, unions were a curiosity rather than a prominent feature, confined largely to skilled trades in big cities and on the railroads.

Not until the late s and prosperous s, when political philosophy began to shift toward collectivism and the "progressive era," did national trade unions gain a real foothold.

Colonial Times In the early modern era, the European guild system consisted of tightly regulated local occupational and product monopolies, which never really took hold in North America. Most labor protests, however, were spontaneous actions like that reported inwhen, according to the Charleston Gazette, Negro chimney sweeps "had the insolence, by a combination among themselves, to raise the usual prices, and to refuse doing their work.

Philadelphia was a city of labor-union firsts: Union Tactics Trade unions in the early Republic sought monopoly control over the local supply of labor with the "closed shop," an arrangement requiring employers to hire union members only.

Selective admission to apprenticeships restricted membership, thereby artificially limiting the supply of skilled labor for hire and placing upward pressure on wage rates.In the late 19th century, industrialization led to harsh working conditions in the U.S. Which policies of the U.S government allowed such conditions to develop and later led to the growth of labor unions to correct abuses of workers.

Terence Vincent Powderly rose from an impoverished childhood in Pennsylvania to become one of the most prominent labor leaders in late 19th century America. Powderly became the head of the Knights of Labor in , and in the s he guided the union through a series of strikes.

US History Module 2. STUDY. PLAY. Which of the following events damaged public support for the labor union movement during the late 19th century?

A look at the union movement of the late 19th century

the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. In the late s, Tammany Hall was associated with which of the following? political corruption.

From the Industrial Revolution to the rise of mass production in the early 20th century, women transformed their relationship with the union movement. During the 19th century, women entered factories in large numbers, working fourteen hours a day, six days a week in dangerous jobs for low pay.

With workers recognizing the power of their employers, the number of local union organizations increased steadily during the midth century. In a number of cities, unions in various trades joined together in citywide federations.

The Nation Labor Union, (actually a federation- an organization of local unions) formed in The NLU eventually . The American labor force has changed profoundly during the nation's evolution from an agrarian society into a modern industrial state.

The United States remained a .

Women's Rights | Unions Making History in America