Tanner's Labor Union Dbq Apush

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From 1875 to 1900 the United States was experiencing the free enterprise associated with the Gilded Age. This was the day of big business’s and “Captains’ of Industry.” Due to almost no government regulation, corruption was a recurring problem that Labor Unions tried to tackle. Despite good intentions, Labor unions were mostly unsuccessful in improving the position of workers during this time period because of their inability to organize successfully, the power of the employer, and the negative public opinion of labor unions.

The labor unions were founded with the goal of helping the wage earners gain power. The two labor unions, The Knights of Labor formed in 1877 and the AFL formed in 1886, sought worker rights, better wages, hours, and working conditions during this era. Although they never achieved the 8 hour workday they did manage to cut the average workday for industrial workers by 30 minutes from 1875 to 1891 (Doc. A). The labor union’s goal of better pay and working conditions was offset particularly by the immigration factor. Due the new inventions industrial jobs that once took three to four hundred skilled workers now required 100 unskilled laborers (Doc. D). Although this new format produced cheaper products, it also transferred even more power to the employers. If an unskilled worker tried to join a union in attempt to better himself he was instantly fired and replaced by the abundant supply of immigrants. The labor unions were far too weak to be able to accomplish the goals they had set out for themselves.

Another factor that prevented labor union success was their inability to organize successfully. There were too many groups that were demanding change for successful reform to occur. The disorganization between the unions, socialists, and anarchists prevented these men from uniting under a common purpose and pursuing together (Doc. F). The Knights of Labor, led by Terence V. Powderly, was dedicated to the proposition of protecting all...
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