Labor Unions, Immigrants, Reconstruction and American Industries

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1. Choose one of the early labor unions to analyze. Explain its origins, its purposes and its results. Chap 14 Think about: reasons to form a union, short and long-term results

As business leaders began to consolidate their forces, it seemed necessary for workers to do so as well. Even though northern wages were generally higher than southern wages, exploitation and unsafe working conditions drew workers together across regions in a national labor movement. Skilled and unskilled laborers, male and female, black and white, joined together in unions to try to improve their working conditions. Skilled workers had formed small, local unions since the late 1700s. One of the first large-scale labor unions was the National Labor Union (NLU). The NLU was founded in 1866, by an ironworker of the name William H. Sylvis. The NLU grew to a total of 640,000 members, and in 1868 the NLU persuaded congress to legalize an eight-hour workday for government employees. The National Labor Union also concentrated on linking local unions. Industry and government responded forcefully to union activity. They viewed the union activity as a threat to the capitalist system. The Great Strike of 1877, the Haymarket Affair, and the Homestead Strike were all strikes that turned violent due to formation of labor unions. These strikes all were trying to gain fair working conditions. The Great Strike of 1877 was workers from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad protesting their second pay cut in two months. This caused other railroads to get backed up and stop shipping, and transportation was stopped for a week. The strike ended when President Hayes stated that the strikers were impeding on interstate commerce, federal troops ended the strike. The Haymarket Affair was a violent strike protesting police brutality, and when the strike ended the public began to turn against the labor movement. The Homestead Act was a strike protesting the working conditions described at the Carnegie...
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