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Progressive Era
The rapid industrialization of the cities during the late nineteenth century led to many problems and conditions that needed to be solved. These reforms became the foundation of the progressive movement. The two major problems were the unfair labor conditions and the abusive practices of big business owners. The reform also required laws are passed by different levels of government. First major problem consisted of unfair labor conditions. Women and children made up a large population of the work force. Eighteen percent of children between ages of 10 to 15 worked during late 1800s (Document 3). The main reason for this was that women and children could be paid low wages and were less likely to join labor unions. Large wave of immigrants in the city also contributed to low wages in general. No minimum wage laws or laws for maximum working hours had been passed at this time. Since there was no law requiring safe working conditions, business owners had no reason to increase their production cost to make a safer working place. As long as business owners had large supply of cheap labor, business owners did not pay high wages to workers. Without high wages, working families could not afford big houses in the city. Many large immigrant families had to live in crowded tenements (Document 1). Several laws were passed to improve labor conditions during the Progressive Era. Many states passed minimum wage laws. Many states also started to pass child-labor laws. Some states even passed workmen’s compensation laws, giving medical insurance to workers. Labor unions were also developed during this time. National Labor Union, Knights of Labor and American Federalization of Labor (AFL) were the three major unions at this time. AFL was the most successful labor union founded by Samuel Gompers. It was very successful because, AFL only accepted skilled workers. Second major problem in the late 1800s was the power and abuses of big business. Big business owners...
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