Organized Labor In The Late Nineteenth Century

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The late nineteenth century witnessed the most violent labor conflicts in the nation’s history. Strikes and worker relations were so bad that many feared that class warfare between workers and management was imminent. Management held most of the power in struggles with organized labor due to the vast surplus of cheap labor and many workers believed they were being taken advantage of and fought for certain privileges. Unions such as the Nation Labor Union and the Knights of Labor advocated various changes to the work place such as: eight hour work days, better pay, and an end to child labor and monopolies and trusts. Even with these Unions’ good means, managers took advantage of many tactics in order to defeat them. Lockouts, blacklists, yellow-dog contracts, private guards and state militias, and court injunctions were all used making it very difficult to organize industrial workers in the late nineteenth century. The National Labor Union was the first attempt …show more content…
One was the Homestead Strike of 1892 within one of Andrew Carnegie’s Steel plants located near Pittsburgh. The manager Henry Clay Frick incited the strike by cutting wages 20%. Frick used tactics such as “the lockout, private guards, and strikebreakers” to crush the strike after a mere five months. The Pullman strike of 1894 was in response to George Pullman cutting wages in his model company and firing leaders that came to bargain with him. The workers at Pullman stopped working and were instructed by the American Railroad Union leader Eugene Debs to not handle any trains with Pullman cars. Eventually the “federal court issued an injunction forbidding interference with the operation of the railroad and demanded that workers abandon the boycott and strike.” Debs among other leaders were arrested and detained for not following the injunction effectively ending the

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