History American Labor Unions

Topics: Eight-hour day, Trade union, Employment Pages: 1 (276 words) Published: January 22, 2013
Essay :
The American Labor Movement of the nineteenth century developed as a result of the city-wide organizations that unhappy workers were establishing. These men and women were determined to receive the rights and privileges they deserved as citizens of a free country. They refused to be treated like slaves, and work under unbearable conditions any longer. Workers joined together and realized that a group is much more powerful than an individual when protesting against intimidating companies. Workers realized the importance of economic and legal protection against the powerful employers who took advantage of them. Technological improvements continually reduced the demand for skilled labor. The evidence document D provides confirms the idea; technology did improve to the extent that "100 men are now able to do what it took 300 or 400 men." Yet, millions of immigrants entered the country between 1880 and 1910 eager for work. With an abundance of new immigrants willing to work, and no laws protecting a worker's rights, businesses disregarded the lives of the individuals. This began to change with the formation of National Unions, collaborations of trade unions created to be even more effective than the local unions. The National Labor Union in 1866 managed to establish an eight hour work day in 1868 for federal employees. However, it fell apart in 1873 and an economic depression swept across the nation. The first large national labor organization to become popular was the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor. It was founded in 1869 by garment workers in Philadelphia who believed that one union of skilled and unskilled workers should exist. The union was originally a secret.
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