How Successful Was Organized Labor In Improving The Position Of Workers In The Period From 1875 1900? Analyze The Factors That Contributed To The Level Of Success Achieved

1086 words - 4 pages

From the years 1875 through 1900 many organized labor unions and strikes occurred. The point of these strikes and labor unions was to eliminate such long hours and low wages that many laborers of that time had to endure. The labor unions demanded eight hour workdays. The labor unions and strikes also worked to eliminate many other hardships that laborers had. The labor unions and strikes were not successful. The only thing they really achieved was in bringing attention to the plight of the worker as well as bringing attention to child labor. However, in their demands for better wages and an eight hour workday, they were unsuccessful. Furthermore, during this time period, the companies and employers enjoyed an improvement in the methods of production in machinery, while at the same time hardly losing anything to these strikes; at most having to agree to pay a little more wages to their workers. However, the eight hour workday was not an effect of the labor unions and strikes of 1875-1900.One reason and factor to why the labor unions and strikes were not all that much effective was that the newspapers as well as other propaganda was in general against the labor unions and chose to generally portray them as ignorant and foolish. This can be seen from Thomas Nast's cartoon in Harper's Weekly in 1878 where he showed that what the laborers were trying to do was the equivalent of killing the goose that lays the golden egg, with the employers being the goose and the laborers being the killer. Nast portrayed them as being foolish for not realizing that by striking against their employers they would subsequently be "killing" them.Another reason why the labor unions and strikes were not effective was because there were too many different groups that were working to help labor interests. This led to ineffectiveness as the different groups kept getting in each others way. This is illustrated in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in 1887 in which he shows many "cooks" (groups supporting laborers) fighting over the "labor interest broth". This picture shows that while these groups kept fighting with each other, they were not taking care of the broth.Another reason why the labor union and strikes were not effective was because of the radical ways through which the strikes were conducted. The strikes could sometimes get so radical that it could lead to violence and sometimes even killing. This can be seen from the Haymarket Riot in which someone threw a bomb into a crowd of policemen. This led to gunfire, the death of eight policemen, multiple civilians, and four anarchists being tried for murder. In general, when groups start to become radical, popular support for that group and that group's interests decline.Another incident in which there was radical rioting and violence was the Homestead Riot in Pittsburgh, PA in 1892. The striking laborers attacked a group of policemen and detectives which resulting in mass firings of guns and people killings. This can be...

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