- Created by: Eleanorarrowsmith
- Created on: 17-06-18 21:00
Trade Unions in the United States
Social context in 1800s: Why Labour solidarity started from a weak point
· American workers were better off than their European counterparts
- Higher wages, better food, clothing and shelter.
· Huge demand for labour between the Civil War and WWI
· Big businesses monopolised their corner of the market (e.g. Carnegie and Rockefeller)
· ‘The American Dream’ – ‘rugged individualism’ the illusion of social mobility destroyed worker solidarity
· A divided workforce – Whites, immigrants and blacks, skilled and unskilled, different economies (North and South)
· Labour was always a minority- In 1800s majority were farmers. Workers didn’t make up the majority
· The taint of radicalism – violence in labour protests meant it lost crucial support among M/C e.g. Haymarket Affair (1886)
· The support of the courts and federal government – overwhelmingly supported federal govt. e.g. Lochner vs. New York (1905) ruled that calls for a 10hr day violated 14th amendment or other rulings that forbade unions from calling strikes or boycotts.
A few Trade Unions did develop…
African- American Unions 1869
- AA emancipated yet weren’t supported in work – hypocrisy
- White, poor workers still see AAs as below them (White supremacist attitudes)
- Segregated Unions emerge
- Prevented unity needed for Civil Rights progress
- At times of industrial unrest white workers were laid off - AAs were cheaper employees
- Booker T. Washington wanted AAs to prove themselves & then ask for political rights – saw skilled education as the way forward.
- National Labour Union urged AA to form separate union
- AAs couldn’t afford fees, had to deal with more pressing issue of poverty
- 1869 Unions began to be formed. National ***** Labor Union attempted to affiliate w white Unions – unsuccessful.
The Knights of Labor 1869
- Led by Terrence V Powderly (Grand Master Workman)
- Ahead of its time – called for 8hr days, equal pay for women & abolition of child labour. Avoided strikes
- Reached 700,000 members 1886
- Tarnished with Haymarket Affair, support vanished
The Haymarket Affair
- Strike in Chicago, violence between police and strikers. Trouble blamed on German immigrants, no evidence but 5 executed.
Weakened & divided labour movement
‘Native’ borns more suspicious of immigrants (race division meant unions could not work as the representatives of all workers)
Destroyed reputation of the KOL
- Took the place of the KOL, led by Samuel Gompers
- Loose alliance of unions, didn’t believe in collective action, no political agenda
- 1914 – over 2 million members
- Gompers believed Unions should care for people in sickness and after retirement.
- Approach proved insignificant in Carnegie Homestead steel plant strike 1892 when management easily crushed the…