Labor UnionsBy Madison McLeod and Amber Jamison
Affects of the Growing IndustrialRevolution During the Industrial Revolution (1800s) American society shifted from a predominately agricultural based lifestyle to an urban based system, heavily reliant upon wage labor. In the 1800s urbanization increased, and therefore people began to see wage labor as their source of income for necessities. Apprenticeship was no longer rampant in America as inventions and factories became a larger part of American life. Because of this fact, the employer could accept many untrained workers instead of training them for years as an apprentice.
Who are the Laborers? Children under the age of ten were a significant portion of the American Labor system. For example, in Samuel Slater’s mill the first laborers were nine children all under the age of twelve. Factories would employ young and old, African American, White, and Immigrant workers. It was common to see women working in factories most likely in sewing circles.
Children Factory Workerssaswesternciv3a.pbworks.com
Immigration’s Influence Irish immigrants poured into the states after a devastating potato famine hit their homeland in the mid 1840’s German immigrants migrated to America due to the collapse in their home government and their craving for democracy. American factory workers resented the heavy flow of immigration because of the competition it created for the factory jobs. (American factories did not require much experience, and the employers would hire almost anyone)
Factory Life The average work day was 12-14 hours, however it could reach up to 19 hours per day Factories were poorly lit and heated. Machinery was very dangerous due to moving parts that the laborers had to maneuver through (high death rates). Children brutally whipped, often in a “whipping room” Wages were exceptionally low, especially for the number of hours worked per day
Employers Under the domestic system of apprenticeship, employers would become friendly and close to their employees due to the small number and the training the employees for multiple years. In the factory system the employer would have hundreds of workers doing simple tasks that required little to no experience. Employees were easily replaced.
Striker’s Conditions They had ambitions such as a ten hour work day, higher wages, and more sufficient working conditions that would benefit all ages. They requested education for their children as well as heartless disciplinary action such as imprisonment on account of the laborer’s debt.
Specific Unions The National Labor Union was formed in 1866 to persuade congress to pass an 8 hour day for federal workers The Knights of Labor was formed in 1869 by Uriah Stephens to emphasize the importance of a skilled worker compared to an unskilled worker. The American Federation of Labor was founded by Samuel Gompers in 1886 to benefit skilled workers.
Violent Strikes Children employed in the silk mills in Paterson, New Jersey go on strike in pursuit of an 11 hour work day 6 days a week (1835). In 1831, 1600 members of the United Tailoresses of New York revolt for higher wages. In 1824, in Pawtucket Rhode Island, 102 women go on strike against increasing hours and decreasing wages. (1st women strike)
Commonwealth vs. Hunt In 1842, the problem arose when an employer threatened to fire an employee who had supposedly broken the rules in his factory (he was also fearing a strike). The judge, Lemuel Shaw decided that the labor unions have a right to open their own closed shops, overall legalizing the idea of a labor union.
Labor Change from 1830-1860 Labor unions existed before 1800, but increased during the Industrial Revolution time period. Only 24 strikes occurred before 1835 Striking boomed in the 1840’s especially after Commonwealth vs. Hunt
Sources http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_did_the_Industrial _Revolution_effect_the_labor_unions Invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/whole_clo th/u2ei/u2materials/eitessay.html http://www.schoolshistory.org.uk/IndustrialRevolut ion/workingconditions.htm Socialstudieshelp.com/Eco_Unionization.htm http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1289 64/Commonwealth-v-Hunt Clear.uhwo.hawaii.edu/timeline-US.htm The American Pageant (13th addition)