Apush Labor Union Dbq

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The 1800s is characterized with the rise of industrial America. As technological advances were introduced to industry, unskilled labor also rose in accordance to the rise in factories. However, this rise also introduced several labor unions such as the Knights of Labor, which organized a series of protests and riots. The labor unions had good intentions, aiming to lower the average work hours for workers, as well as increase their wages. However, their methods which involved riots and protests, were altogether not effective, and ended up being detrimental to their cause. Between 1875 and 1900, labor unions surged and were temporarily successful; however, their methods would prove detrimental to their cause overtime, leading to their downfall.

As technological advances lowered the requirements for jobs, many producers began to abuse these unskilled workers. People had to work long shifts for little pay. Statistics show that wages and hours were generally unfavorable, workers forced to work longer hours for smaller pay. However, after 1880, the average hours began to decrease, while the average wages began to increase. (Doc A). The reason for these better conditions arose due to labor unions. Unions such as the Knights of Labor, the National Labor Union, and the American Federation of Labor, all advocated the same platform. They advocated for better conditions for workers, shorter hours and larger wages. Although the organizations would eventually die out around the 1900s, they were successful enough to become a dominant issue in politics, catching the eye of popular media such as The New York Times, which described union efforts as “bold and determined…have the sympathy of a large part of the community which they live”. (Doc B). Well intentioned, Samuel Gompers, leader of the AFL, was able to give testimony to the House of Representatives, elaborating on why labor unions had to exist. (Doc I). The efforts of these labor unions gave them the push that allowed...
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