History of Formations of Labor Unions in the U.S.

Topics: Employment, Industrial unionism, United States Pages: 2 (743 words) Published: March 12, 2013
The Progressive era is commonly said to have been from the end of the Spanish-American War to World War I during this time many people had goals they wanted to accomplish; usually the people were in different Labor unions. There were several major unions like the knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor. Although, the labor unions did not achieve much, during the late 1800s, to help the position of workers this was because: the unions were not as powerful and the people they were up against, the government was on the side of the owners of the major companies who were important to the U.S., and different groups with the same goals in mind would not work together to achieve them.

To start, the labor unions did not have as much power behind them as the people they were up against. When you are a weaker force it takes a lot more to get things accomplished rather than if they were the powerful force such as the major companies which were important to the U.S. economy. Many companies wanted to have control over their employees and what their employees did. A contract was a good way to take care of that control over their employees, (Document E). One example of this was an employee contract for the Western Union Telegraph company. In the contract it was basically saying that by signing this contract you are agreeing to drop any affiliation to any group that was trying to change certain aspects of the work place. It also included that they could not join any groups in the future. Since companies and their owners had so much power and control over people it was hard for the unions to have enough power to accomplish their goals.

To continue, the Government was on the side of the company owners because they were a major part of the U.S. economy and many of the people were more powerful than the government peoples. Railroads were an important part of the economy at the time due to the fact that they were a huge part of the interstate commerce. The government...
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