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Organized Labor Union Of The Late 1800s And Its Impact Today

2018 words - 9 pages

Modern democratic ideas were sprouting in America, especially within the organized labor movement from 1875 to 1900. During this period, blue-collar industrial Americans sought to abate their plight through the formal use of collective bargaining and the voice of the masses; seeking to use their strength in numbers against the pocket-heavy trusts. America’s rise in Unions can be traced back to 1792, when workers in Philadelphia formed America’s first union which instituted the avant garde method collective bargaining. It is because of these grass roots that America’s organized labor has continued to grow to this day, however not unchallenged. The challenges unions face today stem directly ...view middle of the document...

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (Doc F) began to answer this question on January 8, 1887. The scene depicts a large pot containing the “broth” of labor interests with several cooks, each with spoons labeled to their personal agendas, all competing for the broth. The message is clear; with too many cooks and ideas in the kitchen, no function or ordering is able to be had and as a result the broth is allowed to bubble out of control into violence. These forces within the movement caused the depressing of the laborer’s position. We can also observe that the purpose of the movement was to rally workers behind united front and create an organized change. However, because we can see such front does not exist, the movement cannot even be considered an “organized” labor movement. As it lacks any organization between forces all fighting for the same goal and it widely alienated workers against each other in doing so. Therefore it is best to look at the these movements as the labor movements of disunion, or unions of disunion, as these unions do not meet the requirements, under the simple definitions, to be considered organized. These unions of disunion alienated themselves politically before they had the chance to express a single idea, as the in fighting made it impossible for any coherent legislation that would appeal to each group to come about. Such in fighting can be related to the Republican mudslinging campaigns of 2008, as the in fighting slowly diminished the reputation of each candidate to a point where none could win, thus allowing the other party, in this case the trusts, to succeed behind a united front. The unions of disunion furthered their uncanny ability to fail the blue-collar worker through the landmark Sherman Antitrust Act. Several unions were able to unite against big business and effect change, proof that their disunity was the cause of their discord and that unity was their only possibility for effective use. However, the union’s lobbying only succeeded in producing a weak law, one which trusts easily avoided. Furthermore, the act hurt the worker by officially agitating the sleeping monster of the trusts and by hindering union growth since unions were technically large trusts. Thus one can easily observe the unions of disunion’s aptitude for failure, as they shot themselves in the foot and ruined the laborers only outlet. The unions of disunion furthered their ability to smother the hopes and dreams of the laborer by lobbying for legislation that damaged the ability of other unions to function. The farmer’s movement, led by the grange party, lobbied for fairer rail rates and government regulation of the rails as a means to improve the plight of the farming laborer. The efforts of the farmer’s movement resulted in The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 and caused the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commision; a panel which allowed the government to regulate and oversee the railroads. Then, in 1894, the Pullman strike broke...

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