Industrialization and Workers

Industrialization and
Ch 6, Sec 3 & 4
Factory Workers
• Boom in workforce mid to late 1800s.
– Urbanization and large immigrant population.
• 10-12 hours/day, 6 days/week.
• Paid by piecework – paid by number of
completed products.
• Worked in sweatshops – long hours, low pay,
poor working conditions.
• Efficiency studies by Frederick Winslow Taylor
led to division of labor.
– Production divided up into small parts, each
person does on part over and over.
– Made businesses very efficient; low skill level, low
• Few safety measures in factories; hot, loud,
• Due to low pay, wives and children worked.
– 1 in 5 kids aged 10-16 was employed.
Frederick Winslow Taylor
Unions and Strikes
• 1890-Richest 9% of Americans held 75% of
– Led to resentment and anger.
• Many began to support philosophy of
– Public control of factors of production, not
– Wealth should be spread evenly to all.
• Socialist ideas led to creation of labor unions.
• Unions formed to help workers in hard times.
– Changed to become a way for workers to give
demands to employers.
• Higher pay, shorter hours, better conditions, etc.
• 1869, Knights of Labor union formed to
organize all into single union.
– Wanted equal pay for equal work (women,
minorities), 8-hour workday, no child labor.
– Peaked at 700,00 members, then declined and
disappeared in 1890’s.
• 1886, Samuel Gompers founded American
Federation of Labor (AFL).
– Craft Union – Only skilled workers in a network of
smaller unions, each devoted to a specific craft.
• Wanted better wages, hours, conditions.
• Used strikes, boycotts, collective bargaining.
– Workers negotiate as a group with employers.
• AFL was very effective and successful.
Samuel Gompers
• 1877, railroad workers struck to protest wage
cuts and unsafe conditions.
– Destroyed railroad property, US president sent
troops to restore order.
• Eugene V. Debs organized the American
Railway Union.
– Industrial union – workers from all crafts in a
given industry.
• Debs was opposed to violent strikes, preferred
peaceful protests.
Industrial Union
Eugene V. Debs
• Employers disliked and feared unions.
• Tried to stop unions by:
– Forbidding union meetings.
– Firing union organizers.
– Forcing new employees to sign contracts
promising not to join unions or strike.
– Refusing to collectively bargain.
– Refusing to recognize unions as workers’
• 1881-1900 – 24,000 strikes.
• Haymarket Riot, 1886 – national protest for 8
hour workday led to strikes.
– Chicago-fight between strikers and scabs led to
union protest in Haymarket Square.
– Someone threw a bomb and killed cops, led to
open riot with dozens dead.
– Knights of Labor blamed.
– 4 anarchists hanged, 1 killed self, 3 let go.
• Homestead Strike, 1892 – Carnegie’s partner
Henry Clay Frick tried to cut wages at
Homestead, Pennsylvania mill.
– Led to huge strike.
– Frick sent in Pinkertons to break strike; gunfight,
many killed.
– Anarchist Alexander Berkman tried and failed to
kill Frick.
• Public opinion turned against strikers.
– Strike ended against workers 3 months after start.
Henry Clay Frick
Alexander Berkman
• Pullman Strike, 1894 – George Pullman built
luxury railroad cars, and a town for his
– 1893, cut wages 25%, kept rent and food prices
– Caused local union to strike.
• Pullman shut down factory, refused to bargain.
– ARU led nationwide Pullman strike, 260,000
• Blocked mail delivery, fed gov’t got involved.
– Citing Sherman Anti-Trust Act, railroads got court
order to end strike, President Cleveland sent
troops to enforce.
George Pullman
Strikers burned 600

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