Industrial Workers During The Gilded Age

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During the immorality of the Gilded Age of 1865 through 1900, no other group felt the corruption more intensely than the American industrial worker class. Commonly referred to as the slaves of the north, the American industrial workers were brutally treated, working long, gruesome hours and receiving a meager pay. Naturally, this injustice led to advocating for better conditions. Although several factors attempted to improve the lives of the American industrial workers, they ultimately resulted in worse conditions: technological change begot increased work loads; poor government actions allowed for exploitation of loopholes to dismiss the workers’ pleas; and inefficient attempts at unionization culminated in increased internal conflict among …show more content…
The government’s first attempt to regulate business was with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission; however, a problem with this was that the states, people, and especially workers that were directly affected by the monstrous railroad companies lost their input on controlling them. The federal government also exercised its power to restore peace by halting strikes and riots with military might; the Homestead Strike at one of Andrew Carnegie’s steel plants ended with federal troops storming to the scene to put an end to the pandemonium. These displays of military strength were only intended to protect the large corporations. Targeted by the federal government, the factory workers who merely desired higher wages and better conditions had their humanity stolen from them by virtually everyone. Eventually, the government began trying to restrict the power of the corporations and to help the workers; however, many of its efforts were futile compared to the influence of Rockefeller’s and J.P. Morgan’s businesses. The passage of Sherman’s Anti-Trust Act was intended to end any trust that limited trade. With this broad purpose, corporate lawyers twisted the act to put an end to labor unions—trusts of people whose striking limited trade. Considering all of these actions, the government …show more content…
Two of the first labor unions, the National Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, included both skilled and unskilled members, which caused internal conflict. Skilled members did not want unskilled members to be part of the union because their skills were not valuable, and they could easily be replaced by businesses—especially by the huge influx of European immigrants. Overall, the presence of the unskilled workers in labor unions hindered the movements. Furthermore, the Knights of Labor held radical views, which eventually caused the organization’s disbandment, exacerbated by the Haymarket Square incident that incriminated members of the Knights of Labor of terrorist activity. While the labor unions were successful in achieving an eight-hour workday, when the panic of 1873 struck, working only eight hours a day could not produce enough money for families. Corresponding to the labor union protests, the rioting sometimes got so chaotic that the businesses would employ police officers and the government would send troops to quell the protesters forcibly. With internal conflict with members who were similar to each other and being the enemies of corporations, labor unions plagued the American worker overall in the Gilded Age because little benefit

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