Categories
High School Hs American history

The American Labor Movements and Strikes

image_pdfDownload
Bookmark(0)




This book developed by ©Academy Global Learning 2020
All rights reserved under ©Academy Global Learning 2020. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

Illustrated and Designed By
Christian Alas
Sound By
Margarita Onofre

The American Labor Movements and Strikes

Organizing a union was dangerous since many organizers were being “blacklisted” and fired from their jobs. Being blacklisted meant that their names were put on a list that was then sent to other employers with the intent of making it hard or impossible for them to find other jobs. However, during the final years of the 19th century, many remarkable people still continued organizing labor unions.

– 2 –

National Labor Union. A number of labor unions, consisting of skilled workers, united to form this federation in 1866. The leaders largely ignored the needs of individual members, but were instead involved in social reform. In 1872, the Union dissolved.

Industrial Workers of the World. “Big Bill” Haywood, a miner from the West, organized workers across the whole country. These workers came anywhere from the textile mills of New England to the lumber mills of the state of Washington. Haywood’s national organization was called the Industrial Workers of the World and the members of the organization became nicknamed as “Wobblies.”

– 3 –

Knights of Labor This group was established by some Philadelphia garment workers in 1869. In 1871, a fiery Irish immigrant and widow, Mary Jones, also known as “Mother Jones,” began attending meetings of the Knights of Labor at 41 years of age. She soon began organizing unions and leading strikes.

These unions were often with coal miners. At the age of 87, Mary Jones was still at work. Mary was “a little old lady in a black bonnet” rallying the coal miners in West Virginia. The Knights of Labor was one of the first major unions and included merchants and farmers along with both skilled and unskilled workers. The goals included abolition of child labor, equal pay for equal work, the passage of safety and health laws, and an eight (instead of ten) hour work day. The group favored settlement of disputes by negotiation instead of by strike. In 1885, this organization had reached its peak of power, but it had almost disappeared by the year 1900.

– 4 –

AFL (The American Federation of Labor) was organized in 1881 by Samuel Gompers, an English immigrant. Gompers, a cigar maker, was a very important organizer of skilled workers. In 1886, the name of Gompers’ original Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada was changed to the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Gompers was the first president of the AFL and served for thirty-seven years until he died in 1924. The things most sought after were wage increases and shorter daily work hours.

The group’s main way of achieving their goals was through collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a negotiation between the representatives of the organized workers and their employer. Gompers also favored the use of strikes. In 1900 the AFL had the largest membership of all the unions in the country. The AFL helped unions get started and unite with each other in their negotiations with business owners and employers.

– 5 –

Railroad Strikes of 1877 Railroad workers who were protesting wage cuts made by their employers spread violence and caused havoc from Pennsylvania to Chicago and St. Louis. The strikers derailed trains and burned railroads. In Pittsburgh, military troops were sent in and opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators. Ten demonstrators were killed and many more were wounded. The violence continued to grow and spread across the country from West Virginia to California.

President Hayes sent in federal troops to end the strikes and restore order. This was the first time in U.S. history that troops had been used to stop labor unrest.

Haymarket Riot In May, 1886, workers held a meeting at an industrial plant in Chicago to protest the police action that was being taken against strikers.

– 6 –

A riot broke out, and after a bomb exploded, eight police officers and several strikers were killed. This riot increased anti-labor feelings, especially against the Knights of Labor. This protest rally and riot had taken place in the city’s Haymarket Square. At a rally the next day, May 4, a contingent of 180 police officers marched in to disperse the crowd.

A bomb exploded in their ranks, killing seven officers and wounding sixty-six. A giant riot broke out, and the police began firing into the crowd. Four people were killed and at least two hundred were wounded. Although the actual bomber in the riot was never identified, eight anarchist leaders were convicted as accessories to murder. One of the anarchists committed suicide, four of them were hung, and three were sent to jail. The governor of Illinois, John Peter Altgeld (1847-1902), pardoned the three survivors in 1893. Due to anti-labor sentiments, this move destroyed Altgeld’s political career.

– 7 –

Find the vocabulary words (in bold), write them below, and find the definition of each in a dictionary.

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

________

– 8 –

Write 5 sentences using some of the vocabulary words.

1. ______________________________________

2. ______________________________________

3. ______________________________________

4. ______________________________________

5. ______________________________________

– 9 –

Write one sentence to describe the history of American Labor Movements and Strikes for each area below:

What?

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

When?

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

How?

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

– 10 –

Where?

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

Why?

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

Who?

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

– 11 –

Discuss:

1. Why was it important for workers and unions to unite, including both skilled and unskilled workers?

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

2. Explain the use of strikes instead of the use of collective bargaining to settle disputes.

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

– 12 –

3. Why did the Federal Government become involved in the Railroad Strikes of 1877?

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

4. Discuss “anti-labor” feelings and how they destroyed Altgeld’s political career.

______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

– 13 –







The American Labor Movements and Strikes