Most of the immigrants who poured into the US lacked money and education. They remained in the nations growing cities, where theytoiled long hours for little pay. Despite the harshness of their new lives moststill improved their standard of living. In the US they had a chance at socialmobility—moving up in society-unlike in Europe.
• Working conditions were dangerous, monotonous, repetitive, unsafe, unhealthy, with long hours, and with little pay.• Average pay $400-$500 a year• Woman—17% of work force—less than the average male worker• Children-10% girls (10-15 years old) 20% boys held factory jobs• Labor tried to fight against such condition with little success—fear of …
First Unions• National Labor Union 1866-1st labor union— excluded women—fell apart after depression of 1873-• Molly Maguires—militant labor union— sometimes used terrorist tactics.• Both were unsuccessful but they provided a template of action for more successful subsequent groups
The Great Railroad Strike-1877• Eastern railroads announced a 10% wage cut. Rail service was disrupted between Baltimore to St. Louis, equipment was destroyed, and rioting in the streets of Pittsburgh. President Hayes sent in troops –11 demonstrators died and 40 wounded. Over 100 died before the strike fell apart.• 1st major national strike, illustrated disputes no longer local with a national economy
http://libcom.org/history/articles/us- rail-strikes-1877 Howard Zinn• http://youtu.be/ds4cHgzN-S8
The Knights of Labor-1869• Open to “all who toiled” (except lawyers, bankers, liquor dealers, and gamblers)• very inclusive—welcomed women and blacks• Fought for an 8 hour day• Abolition of child labor• Membership peaked at 700,000-after a few strikes membership dropped• Terrance Powderly
American Federation of Labor• Very exclusive—associated with skilled workers, led by Samuel Gompers.• Worked for better wages, hours and working conditions.• Worked for collective bargaining—but not rule out strikes• No women
Sources of labor Weakness• Some gains by labor but forces were against them• Only 4% in unions• AFL excluded unskilled, blacks and recent immigrants• Tensions between ethnic and racial groups• Shifting nature of workers• Most importantly-wealth and power against them
• With a surplus of cheap labor, management held most of the power in its struggles with organized labor.• Employers did everything possible to prevent unions• The lockout, blacklists, yellow dog contracts, calling in private guards ( The Pinkertons), or state militia or the army, court injunctions
• Labor was often divided on best methods for fighting management—political action, strikes, picketing, boycotts• Management fostered public fear of unions as un-American
Haymarket Square Riot-1886• Strikers and labor leaders were called to a protest meeting in Chicago at Haymarket Square --when police ordered the crowd to disperse someone threw a bomb-it killed 7 officers and injured 67 more. Chicago officials rounded up 8 anarchists and charged them with murder—all found guilty and 7 were sentenced to death.• Middle class America now associated anarchism with unions and strikers• Knights of Labor lost popularity and membership
Haymarket Square Riot• http://youtu.be/_OQxncb2ihQ part 1• http://youtu.be/8w-z8ud_9QU part 2• http://youtu.be/VKkEl9XzjFc part 3
The Homestead Strike-1892• Homestead was one of Carnegie’s steel plants in Pitts.• Strike called by the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin workers—most powerful trade union in the country—why?• Steel industry was introducing new methods and reducing need for skilled labor• Cut wages
• The plant was shut down by Carnegie’s heavy man Henry Frick and he called 300 of Pinkerton’s men as strikebreakers.• Read p. 618• http://youtu.be/r9M_eDmpZsk• http://www.history.com/videos/andrew- carnegie-and-the-homestead-strike#andrew- carnegie-and-the-homestead-strike
The Pullman Strike-1894• http://youtu.be/-N2tl1LM1r0• http://youtu.be/yOgATGaTSrM--• CBS on its legacy
• In the end, what all these strikes illustrated was that government would always intervene on the side of management. Not until the 1930’s will Unions gain the federal support that it would need.