4th Period - Labor and Unions

Effects of Labor and Unions
This theme explores the role of the labor movement in American society, from
Indentured servitude to modern day labor unions.
Xavier Zapien
Alexis Harington
Rodrigo Larios
Priscilla Macfall
Study Guide
The 1600’s were a time in which the New World was actually beginning to prosper.
With the growth of the settlements, settlers began trying to find new resources which could
be deemed profitable. This eventually led to the introduction of Tobacco in 1612,
introduced by John Rolfe. The emergence of Tobacco led to a large amount of labor
workers needed to maintain the crop, leading to the idea of Indentured Servitude. After
promising 7 years of labor, indentured servants were given a free passage to the new world
and freedom once those years were completed. This allowed land ownership for most men
who were not able to get any in the all ready populated Europe. This form of labor became
incredible popular, that during the 17th century, more than 75 percent of the 130,000
English men who migrated to the New World were indentured servants. Although
indentured servitude was popular, there was still a labor shortage, which led to the
development of the headright system in 1618. This system gave a tract of land of about 50
acres to colonist and potential settlers. Sometimes wealthy investors could increase their
land by paying the passage of indentured servants and gaining a headright for each one
whom they sponsored. Although indentured servitude and the headright system were great
ideas for a good source of labor, the workers began to get angry at the way they were
treated, leading to the Bacon Rebellion. Bacons Army was filled with current and former
indentured servants, aiming to attack the Doeg and Susquehannock tribes for more land,
eventually turned to a riot against the disliked conditions that the servants were enduring.
They took action by turning their anger towards Jamestown, sacking and burning the city.
After that attack, plantation owners turned their sources of labor towards that of Native
Americans and African Slaves. The idea of enslaving the Native Americans ending up
being a failure, as they escaped easily since they knew the land and were majorly difficult
to find. Plus Europeans were constantly wiping out 85 to 95 percent of their enslaved
Native Americans due to diseases they would pass to them. But African slaves on the other
hand knew nothing of the land so they were less likely to escape, unable to speak to each
other as they most likely came from different parts of Africa, making them less likely to
revolt and easier to control thus developing African Slaves to become the main source of
labor at the time.
In the 1700's the majority of people worked on farms until the Industrial Revolution when
American society shifted from a predominately agricultural based lifestyle to an urban
based system, heavily reliant upon wages and labor. In 1786, a group of printers in
Philadelphia requested a raise and were rejected. As the Industrial Revolution came along,
more and more people became more dependent on wages for their basic survival needs,
Labor unions became more necessary and more unions were formed to meet the different
needs of the growing numbers and types of workers.
The increasing number of people that live in urban areas and predominantly results in the
physical growth of urban areas is known as urbanization which was majorly increased
during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. Although factories employed young, old,
black, or white, children were a significant portion of the American labor system. The
average work day was 12-14 hours a day sometimes exceeding to 19 hours. The national
Labor Union was formed to persuade congress to pass 8 hours a day for workers. in1831,
1600 members of the United Tailoresses of New York revolted for higher wages.
Commonwealth vs. Hunt in 1842 a problem arose when an employer threatened to fire
another employee, the Judge, Lemuel Shaw stated that Labor Unions have the right to
open or close shops, overall legalizing the idea of a Labor Union.
Due the industrial revolution, workers conditions were not very good and needed
help from organizations such as labor unions. The Knights of Labor, founded in 1869 by
Uriah Stephens, was the first national labor union. Their common goals were 1) an eight
hour work day; 2)equal pay for equal work for men and women; 3) Child labor laws;
4)safety and sanitary codes; 5) a federal income tax; 6) Government ownership of railroad
and telegraph lines. Despite advocating negotiation over strikes, they were inclined to
violence in order to achieve their goals. After a series of failed strikes under the leadership
of Terrence Powderly in the 1880’s, the popularity of the Knights declined. This led to the
public viewing the unions as being violent and advocates of political radicalism. In 1886,
during a labor demonstration in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, a bomb went off, killing
police. The members of the unions were blamed for this incident but no one knows where
the bomb came from. This was known as the Haymarket Square Riot. Samuel Gompers
was the leader of the American Federation of Labor (1886), and concentrated on the
issues of higher wages and shorter work days. He realized that the union could gain power
by excluding unskilled workers; the AFL was formed as an alliance of trade unions (unions
made up exclusively of workers of a single trade). Most labor unions refused to admit
immigrants, blacks, and women. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was an act that the
government created to restrict monopolies. It was a law that forbids any “Combination…or
conspiracy in the restraint of trade”. Due to the poor wording of the act, Labor Unions were
often found to restraint trade. Labor Unions were formed during this period to counter the
meager handling of workers. Courts and Businesses were very hostile to these. Before the
civil war, Unions existed but they were very small, regional, or local.
During the beginning of the 1900s or the twentieth century labor unions
were consider very radical groups that in 1908 the Federal Bureau of Investigation was
created to recede the number of labor unions since they were consider enemies of the
state. This made businesses more powerful than labor unions by increasing their different
tactics to break up the unions. The Palmer Raids in early 1920s, led by Attorney General A.
Mitchell Palmer, was raids and arrests of 4,000 suspected radicals, these raids were also
aided by the government. During the 1902 the Hatter Union issued a nationwide boycott
of a non-union hat manufacturer in Connecticut, the manufacturer then sued the union
claiming that it violated the Sherman Antitrust Act (approved the 2nd of July in 1890).
Then also in 1903 the case of Northern Securities Co. v. United States had a ruling of 5 to
4 against the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroad companies because they had
formed a monopoly. Back to 1902 had a Coal Miner Strike that lasted approximately ten
months ending in October 1902, these coal miners and their employers agreed that the
workers would be given a ten percent increase and a nine hour work day. However the
United Mine Workers Union was forbidden from having another strike within the
following three years. In 1905 the International Workers of the World (IWW) a “radical”
union is formed its main goal was to overthrow capitalism by replacing it with a more
socialist system. Then in 1906 The Jungle by Upton Sinclair which talks about how badly
the workers were being treated in the factories however the book had more success in the
start of regulating food. A big step for the labor unions came in 1913 in the Department of
Labor which was made to protect the rights of the workers. And also the following year in
1914 the Clayton Antitrust Act is passed which legalizes nonviolent strikes and boycotts
And starting in 1923 with President Warren Harding, then Calvin Coolidge and
finishing with Herbert Hoover who all believed in big business (they were all republicans)
the Labor unions for steel, coal and mine industries were suppressed by federal troops.
Also during this time the Supreme Court overturned a minimum wage law for women and
abolished child labor restrictions. Throughout the 1920s the members of labor unions
begins to decline because of the “pro-business atmosphere”. Then the labor unions then
started picking up momentum in 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act which is a federal
law that establishes the minimum wage in federal, state and local governments. Then in
1947 the Taft-Hartley Labor Act limited the power that unions had during a strike. Then
in 1949 there was an improvement on the Fair labor standards act of 1938 that includes
outlawing child labor. Then things begin to slow down again until 1959.
In 1959 the Landrum-Griffin Act was passed to eliminate labor unions’ internal
affairs and their official’s relationships with employers. In 1970 the Postal Worker Strike
which had 180,000 strikers became the largest public employee walkout that lasted for two
weeks, and was a strike against the government and the president at the time Richard
Nixon sent the U.S armed forces and the National Guard to break up the strike. Then
beginning in 1997 the labor unions decreased dramatically that only fourteen percent of
workers belong to a union. And in 2005 the Teamsters (Union of truck drivers, chauffeurs,
and warehouse workers) and Service Employees Unions (2.1 million diverse members in
the U.S, Canada and Mexico) announced their withdrawal from the AFL-CIO (is a union that
is 12.5 million working people in every walk of life) which this action is consider the worst
crisis since 1935 when the CIO split from the AFL. Then in the same year only a few days
later another large union dissipates, which are the United Food and Commercial Workers.
1. Tobacco – A crash Crop discovered by John Rolfe that became the main source of
money in Jamestown.
2. John Rolfe – Introduced the cash crop of tobacco.
3. Indentured Servitude – In return for free passage, indentured servants typically
promised seven years of labor, after which they received their freedom.
4. Headright System – A tract of land, usually about 50 acres, that was granted to
colonist and potential settlers.
5. Bacon’s Rebellion – A rebellion which directed the farmers anger into attack of
both Doeg and Susquehannock tribes, but when the governor rebuked Bacon for
their action, he directed his army – which by now included both the former
indentured servants from the frontier and current indentured servants, dissatisfied
with their condition – toward Jamestown, sacking and burning the city.
6. Jamestown – First English permanent settlement established in the New World in
7. Native Americans – the inhabitants living in the New World before the arrival of
European settlers.
8. African Slaves – African blacks who brought from Africa for use in labor.
9. Knights of Labor- a secret organization whose professed purpose is to secure and
maintain the rights of workingmen as respects their relations to their employers.
10. Uriah Stephens- founder of the Knight of Labor. (1869)
11. Terrence Powderly- was an Irish-American politician and labor union leader,
best-known as head of the Knights of Labor in the late 1880s.
12. Haymarket Square Riot- May 4, 1886, the police clashed violently with militant
anarchists and labor movement protesters in Chicago. Seven policemen and several
protesters were killed. (Regarded as the first Red Scare in the U.S.).
13. Samuel Gompers- was an English-born American cigar maker who became a labor
union leader and a key figure in American labor history. Gompers founded
the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and served as the organization's president
from 1886 to 1894 and from 1895 until his death in 1924.
14. American Federation of Labor- was one of the first federations of labor unions in
the United States.
15. Trade unions- unions made up exclusively of workers of a single trade
16. Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890- is a landmark federal statute on United
States competition law passed by Congress in 1890. It prohibits certain business
activities that federal government regulators deem to be anticompetitive, and
requires the federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and
organizations suspected of being in violation.
17. AFL-CIO- is a union that is 12.5 million working people in every walk of life
18. Coal Miner Strike (1902)- Anthracite coal miners in Pennsylvania went on strike
for approximately ten months, then their employers agreed to increase their wages
by ten percent and reduce the working day to nine hours if the United Mine
Workers Union (who organized the strike) did not protest within the following
three years.
19. Department of Labor- created in 1913 to protect the rights of the workers.
20. Fair Labor Standards Act- established minimum wage in 1938. Then in 1947
there was a change to outlaw child labor.
21. Federal Bureau of Investigation- commonly known as the FBI started in 1908
and J. Edgar Hoover was the first man in charge of the agency.
22. Hatter Union (1902) - A union that boycotted hats by a manufacturer in
23. International Workers of the World (IWW) - a radical union that tries to
overthrow capitalism by replacing it with a more socialist system.
24. Capitalism- economic and political system in which countries and industries are
owned and controlled by private owners and socialist- is when the LandrumGriffin Act- passed in 1959 was to stop corruption in labor unions.
25. Northern Securities Co. v. United States- reached the Supreme Court in 1903; the
case was against the Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroad Companies who
had formed a monopoly, by the Trust Buster Theodore Roosevelt (Roosevelt
administration), which had a 5 to 4 ruling against the monopoly.
26. Palmer Raids- raids and arrests of 4,000 suspected radicals starting in November
1919 and January 1920 lead by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer