A Discussion on US Labor History

It can be argued that the United States had the bloodiest and most violent labor history of nay industrial nation in the world.  Harsh working conditions and poor wages led union workers to revolt.  This, along with the employers quick and violent action and the governments lack of participation in wage and peace keeping, left the late 1800s a bloody time in American history.

The main reasons, for example, railroad workers revolting in the late 1800s was because of poor wages, but Laos because of union cohesion.  In most of the riots.   That occured at the industries, if the employer would have given proper recognition to the union status, violence may not have broken out.  The attempts to quell or destroy the people from gathering also had violent effects in the revolt.  Also, had there not been influential mob leaders antagonizing the rioters to continue, many of the riots may have disbursed without casualties.  In the strikes and riots of the late 1800s, sit-ins would be the result of the employer not budging when demands for better wages by the union were asked and not recieved.  One answer the employers deduced is to employ outside non-union help and have them formally sign a contract staying the employee would not join a union.  The hiring of non-union personnel enrages the peaceful petitioners into all out mob-destruction, usually ending with the calling of state and federal troops, and dead and wounded with thousands in property damage.

Along with the poor wages, the mistreatment of union workers, while employed, was another factor in the revolts.  The harsh working conditions only fueled the unions to show hatred for their employers.  The quick firing of employees, too, led to angry mobs forming.  Employers quickly sending for federal aid in peaceful sit-ins turned them violent quickly, only after troops arrived and harassed those on strike.  Also, the breaking of contracts with unions because of an expiration date excuse on the unions’s contract was a way around paying workers in Homestead, PA, for example, which resulted in a bloody massacre.

The governments stance in the strikes was to let the state handle its own affairs unless troops were attacked, which would result in the governor or chief of police asking for federal troops.  The involvement of soldiers led to strikes becoming more violent, but also led to those on strike becoming disorganized, weak, and quelled into giving up on the strike.  President Clevland, for example, stated it was not a federal right to deal with matters of judicial procedure, yet government troops were used frequently.

The riots of 1877 were violent and bloody, and always led to the union being dispatched and the government and private employers winning the day.  It is no wonder why the unions revolted.  With no compromising on the employers side and little recognition to the unions, the disrespect led to chaos.  The employers were taking away the only way some people knew how to make a life.  The terrible wages for the work asked is another reason for their revolts.  Are the wealthy really that vague and blind that blood is the same as a dollar sign?  With the lack of government support the unions had no rights in the private sector, besides what the owner decided, and since they fell under state law, the government could intervene and then wash its hands of the matter and claim it intervened in a private matter, who were not/could not be brought up on legal charges.

So who really ran the government when the soldiers would go to the call of private corporations whenever they needed, and for whatever reason?

Have things changed since our government is still run by private corporations?

Are we ever going to change our understanding of value and retake the standard of wages, decided by the people instead of those who want to oppress the people into slave labor.

Just because we add a zero do we have more? Or are the zeros created by some other entity that does not have yours or societies interests in mind, a profit-driven mentality that reigns?  Good questions for research and introspection.

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2 thoughts on “A Discussion on US Labor History

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    Liked by 1 person

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