During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s America was making more advances in technology and machinery than ever. An example can be found in Document D when a machinist is going before the Senate Committee on labor and capital. The machinist is asked a series of questions regarding his machinery and the technological advances that have been made over the years. He stated that no one man learns the entire trade of a machinist anymore and that it is more productive for a man to learn a piece of the trade than to spend so much time studying the entire career. This, in turn, allowed sewing machines to be made faster and cheaper. With every employer’s eye set on making more money with cheap labor, working conditions got increasingly worse. People were forced to work up to nine and ten hours a day for minimum wages (Document A). The poor pay and pitiful working conditions of this time led to labor unions.
Document I gives one a personal insight into the employees viewpoint on labor unions. Samuel Gompers spoke before a commission established by the House of Representatives on the relations and conditions of capital and labor. Mr. Gompers basically makes the point that employees should be allowed to go on strike occasionally because if the right was taken away from them, the employer would never see the damage being done. Document F depicts a very clear image. One can see the anarchist, labor unions, socialists, and Knights of Labor fighting and arguing over what the best way to conduct a labor union would be. The caption is “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth”. This furthers the image of the opposing opinions only complicating the situation at hand. All of the opinions swirling around provoked violent strikes and revolts.
The second largest labor union revolt was the Homestead Strike. It was second only to the Battle of Blair Mountain. Document G gives an obituary of some of the people killed at the Homestead Strike. The battle took place between the steelworkers and...
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