Organized Labor

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Organized labor did improve the position of workers in the period of 1875 to 1900 somewhat, but not as much as they had hoped for. Although it did succeed in creating sympathy from many communities, and ultimately did result in lesser hours and increased pay, it was not as successful as most would have hoped it to be. Many labor unions including the NLU, ARU, and Knights of Labor were started to improve the position of workers but ended up collapsing. Strikes such as the Haymarket Riot and the Pullman Strike failed and proved to be relatively ineffective. Statistically speaking, it is clear that organized labor had a positive effect. The Historical Statistics of the United States shows substantial increase in average daily wages and relatively substantial decrease in the average daily hours per worker in this time period. We can presume this is because of the organized labor unions. The testimony before the House of Representatives of Samuel Gompers also describes that strike and organized labor unions help the worker to benefit from advances and not just the employer. The Western Union employee contract also shows that employers were worried about unions, as it forced workers to terminate their ties to the union. But at the same time, this shows the employer still has the upper hand over the employee because of their ability to terminate the contract if the employee has ties to union. The coroner’s list of the killed also shows that the Homestead strike, although it may have had some positive implications in the long run, involved casualties for many employees of Homestead. Although there were some successes, the organized labor did not accomplish as much as expected. Both of the political cartoons from newspapers published in this time period show that organized labor was detrimental overall to the worker’s interests and the economy in the long run. The New York Times editorial calls the strikes “hopeless” among other negative comments, although it admits...
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