Labor Strife In Gilded Age

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Labor Strife in Gilded Age

Labor Strife in Gilded Age


During the Gilded Age's labor strife, the lives of American workers were transformed and organized labor established itself as a major force in the nation's life. The number of workers engaged in manufacturing rose from fewer than one million in 1860 to six million in 1900, Employers introduced new machinery and work methods that diluted traditional artisan skills, and American workers competed with millions of European immigrant for unskilled jobs. As periodic economic crises swept the land, high levels of unemployment, low wages, long hours, and poor working conditions sparked the organization of a labor movement, and repeated strikes and protests.


Labor's Goals and Attempt to Organize and Struggle with Owners

The labor unions increasingly believed and had the basic goals that workers could best secure higher wages and better working conditions not through political reform but through union strength at the workplace. Partly due to ideological prejudice and partly to protect the wages of its members by keeping potential competitors out of the labor market, many AFL unions excluded immigrants, blacks, and women from membership.

Missouri, the Labor Exchange, attempted to unite farmers and workers in a single cooperative movement designed to preserve their preindustrial status as independent producers and property owners. During the depression triggered by the Panic of 1893, the Labor Exchange attracted considerable attention from urban craftsmen and farmers who had been active in the Knights of Labor and the Farmers' Alliance. By late 1898, there were more than 325 locals of the Labor Exchange scattered across the country, doing business in at least thirty-three states and claiming fifteen thousand members. Hoping to build an alternative to the modern capitalist marketplace, these locals promoted the direct exchange of goods between producers by circumventing, corporate middle, men and by issuing ...
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