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Labor in the Gilded Age


Labor in the Gilded Age Lecture 1 The Great Strikes and Demonstrations Administrative Reading for next time Montgomery Work Rules and Manliness – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Labor in the Gilded Age

Labor in the Gilded Age
  • Lecture 1
  • The Great Strikes and Demonstrations

  • Reading for next time
  • Montgomery Work Rules and Manliness
  • Haymarket AnarchistFights for Freedom
  • Reading for class after movie
  • George Pullman Defends Managerial Paternalism
  • Samuel Gompers Defends the Right to Strike
  • Movie in class next time snacks!

  • Working conditions and relations among different
    parts of the working class from the Civil War to
  • Development of unions, especially national labor
    federations, especially the Knights of Labor

  • I- Period of great strikes
  • II- The Haymarket Square Riot

I- Period of Great Labor Upheavals
  • Great labor wars between workers and the monopoly
  • Demonstrations that employers and their allies in
    government were determined to crush
  • Employer claim that strikes and unions were the
    work of anarchists, communists, and were

Focus of Strikes Heart of American Industry
  • Railroads
  • Railroad Strike of 1877
  • Strikes against Goulds railways in 1885 and 1886
    by the Knights
  • Strike by American Railway Union against Pullman
    in 1894
  • Mining
  • Metal Miners, Coeur DAlene Idaho
  • Coal Miners, Tennessee
  • Steel The Homestead Strike - 1892

Government and Strikes
  • In many of these cases, the union was poised to
    win a great victory
  • In most of those, government intervention on the
    side of the employers turned the tide
  • Some took the lesson that workers needed
    political influence
  • Others took the lesson that unions should stay
    out of politics in the hope that government would
    then stay out of union business

II- Haymarket Square Riot
  • May 1886
  • Began with the demand that workers implement the
    8-hour day on May 1, 1886
  • On May 3, lockout at McCormick Harvester works
    turned violent

Chicago Central Labor Council
  • Led by Anarcho-Syndicalists
  • One was Albert Parsons, who was told to get out
    of town during the 1877 railway strike
  • Called demonstration downtown to protest the
    police action at McCormick the previous day

(No Transcript)
The Demonstration
  • Series of fiery speakers
  • The Mayor left, stopping at the local police
    station to tell the police chief it was a
    peaceful meeting and there was no problem
  • Police arrived

The Riot
  • Bomb thrown, no one knows by whom, into the
    police ranks
  • One killed immediately (several died later) and
    many injured
  • Police began shooting and clubbing wildly
  • No one knows how many died but over 200 injured

  • Group of men charged
  • Included Parsons and his associate August Spies
  • Both had left the demonstration around the same
    time the mayor did

  • States Attorney said, Convict these men, make
    examples of them, hang them, and you save our
  • Chicago police instituted reign of terror against
    dissident groups
  • Same States Attorney told the police to, Make
    the raids first and look up the law afterwards.

  • Parsons went into hiding
  • Candidates for the jury chosen by a special
    bailiff instead of at random
  • One was a relative of a police victim
  • Others admitted prejudice but were permitted to
    serve anyway
  • Evidence filled with contradictory and unclear
    statements and obvious lies

  • Jury was inundated with anarchist and socialist
  • Really defendants ideology that was on trial
  • All 8 convicted and five sentenced to death
  • Executed November 1887
  • Others pardoned in 1894

  • Haymarket Square set back the labor movement for
  • Simultaneously associated by the press with the
    Molly Maguires, the Anarchists, and the Knights
  • 1886 200,000 workers had achieved 8 hours. By
    one year later, only 15,000 still had it
  • Still has an impact now

Next Time
  • Film next class
  • Following class well talk about the Pullman

Labor in the Gilded Age
  • Lecture 2
  • Film- The River Ran Red

Labor in the Gilded Age
  • Lecture 3
  • The Pullman Strike

  • Reading finish this topic
  • Essay reminder

  • Period of great strikes
  • Railroad 1877 Railway Strike
  • Mining
  • Steel Homestead Strike
  • The Haymarket Square Riot
  • Riot blamed on Anarchist-led unionists but
    clearly not their doing
  • Major setback for unionism

  • The Pullman Strike of 1894
  • Eugene V. Debs and Industrial Unionism
  • The Pullman Company
  • Causes of the strike
  • Conduct of the strike
  • The Aftermath

I. Eugene Debs and Industrial Unionism
  • Born in Indiana 1855
  • Had worked as Fireman and as Engineer
  • Popular and influential
  • Believed strikes not an effective labor weapon,
    advocated arbitration
  • Same time as he changed his mind about strikes,
    he began to doubt the effectiveness of craft

I. Debs and Industrial Unionism
  • June 1893 American Railway Union founded
  • Early success in strike against Great Northern
  • Result was dramatic growth

II. The Pullman Company
  • George M. Pullman came from working class family
  • Developed idea for sleeping cars on trains
  • Success led to need for large factory which he
    built in Chicago in 1880
  • Decided to build a model community for his
    workshops and workers

The Model Community
  • Rents 25 higher than in neighboring communities
  • Gas had to be bought from the company
  • Spies
  • In 1892 Pullman made 4,000,000

III. Causes of the Strike
  • Summer 1893, in midst of panic, Pullman decided
    to cut costs
  • Refused to reduce rents or cost of utilities
  • December 1893 strike
  • Result was that the men began to form branches of
    the ARU

III. Causes of the Strike
  • May 1894 elected committee to bring grievances to
  • Next morning, three of the committee members were
  • Meeting of the full committee that evening
    decided on a strike unless the men were rehired

IV. Conduct of the Strike
  • Pullman went on vacation
  • Workers formed strike committee
  • For a month, strike remained local and peaceful
  • June 12, 1894 ARU opened its first national
    convention, in Chicago
  • Debs predicted boycott would become national

IV. Conduct of the Strike
  • After 4 days 125,000 workers on strike
  • Initially quite peaceful
  • Widespread support by workers of all kinds
  • Mail cars moved fine and almost no violence at
    all in Chicago
  • Clearly the workers were winning

IV. Conduct of the Strike
  • Media turned against strike once it spread beyond
  • Still clearly the workers were winning
  • Of the 24 rail lines feed Chicago, 13 were
    virtually immobilized

IV. Conduct of the Strike
  • Intervention of the Federal Government
  • Key was Attorney General Richard Olney
  • Olney wired US Attorneys to protect mail
  • Federal marshals ordered to protect mail
  • Debs publicly offered to assign union work crews
    to any mail train that did not have a sleeper car

Intervention of the Federal Government
  • Olney wanted Cleveland to send troops
  • Interference with the mail provided the excuse
  • June 30, Olney appointed a special federal
    counsel in Chicago
  • His main function was to help railroads secure
    injunctions against the strike

Intervention of the Federal Government
  • Application for injunction immediately granted
  • One of the most wide-ranging injunctions ever
    issued before or since
  • Debs and other officers enjoined
  • US Strike Commission
  • US Supreme Court upheld the injunction later
  • Debs decided to flout the injunction

Intervention of the Federal Government
  • July 3, Walker and others sent telegram to
    President requesting troops
  • Requested to protect federal property, mail, and
    enforce injunctions
  • Cleveland now ordered federal troops to Chicago
  • July 5 Debs offered again to end the boycott if
    the employer would agree to arbitrate the dispute

Intervention of the Federal Government
  • Major conflicts as well in Denver, San Francisco
    and several other places
  • Cleveland issued order against assemblages of any
    kind in Illinois
  • Still widespread public support for strikers
  • Judge Grosscup now called into session a grand
    jury to investigate the insurrection against
    the state of Illinois

IV. Conduct of Strike
  • July 8, Debs sent out call for support
  • Chicago Trades and Labor Council met
  • July 11, city-wide strike attracted only 25,000
  • July 12, AFL Executive met
  • Debs then proposed calling the strike off

IV. Conduct of Strike
  • July 17, four ARU officers rearrested
  • Bail set at 10,000 each
  • This time they decided to remain in jail
  • July 20 federal troops withdrawn
  • By August 1, the railroads had enough men and the
    trains were running again
  • August 2, ARU held meeting and declared the
    strike over

V. Aftermath
  • Widespread firing and blacklisting of strikers
  • No one ever prosecuted for violence against the
  • Strikers frequently prosecuted
  • Debs convicted of contempt
  • Pullman Strike Repression was a Public Relations
    Disaster for Cleveland and the Democrats

V. Aftermath
  • Debs became a Socialist at the expense of US tax
  • Eventually became leader of the American
    Socialist Party
  • Ran for President five times
  • Labor Day

Next time
  • New craft unionism
  • American Federation of Labor
  • Industrial Workers of the World

Labor in the Gilded Age
  • Lecture 4
  • The New Craft Unionism and Workers Before the
    Turn of the Century

  • Quiz Reminder
  • Mid-term Reminder
  • Second Essay Reminder

  • Railroad Strike of 1877
  • The Haymarket Square Riot - 1886
  • The Homestead Strike 1892
  • The Pullman Strike 1894
  • In each case, the government intervened to
    suppress dissent and to crush the workers

  • I- The New Craft Unionism
  • II- Origins and Founding of the American
    Federation of Labor
  • III- The World of the Workers, 1880-1900

I- The New Craft Unionism
  • Decline of the Knights following the unsuccessful
    strike against Goulds railways and Haymarket
    Square Riot in 1886
  • The Cigar Makers model of unionism
  • Why might cigar makers be among the intellectual
    leaders of the labor movement?

Cigar Makers Reorganization
  • Union reorganized by Adolph Strasser, who became
    president in 1877
  • Aided by his ally, Samuel Gompers
  • In 1867 cigar makers had already become the first
    national union to admit women and admitted
    African-Americans at same time

Cigar Makers New Model
  • Centralization
  • Even more, entire emphasis on a narrow agenda
  • Wages
  • Hours
  • Working Conditions
  • Why did this narrow agenda work?
  • Adoption of this model seemed to breathe new life
    and vitality into the union movement

II- Origins and Founding of the American
Federation of Labor
  • Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions
  • Craft union federation founded in 1881
  • Gompers chosen to lead it in 1882
  • Compromise structure that had little impact
  • 1886 decided to dissolve itself and turn its
    funds over to a new organization, the American
    Federation of Labor

AFL Structure
  • A union of union's - individual workers did not
  • Issued exclusive jurisdiction charters to each
    constituent union
  • Established State Federations and City Centrals

AFL Functions
  • Settle jurisdictional disputes
  • Adopt limited legislative program
  • Assist in supporting strikes - emphasis on
    economic action - no direct political
    participation or supporting of candidates
  • This policy was called voluntarism

Why Did AFL Succeed?
  • AFL offered what unions wanted
  • Coherent political voice in favor of limited
  • Protection from dual unionism - an obscenity in
    the trade union lexicon
  • Support in periods of economic conflict without

Strengths of AFL
  • Its focus on narrow industrial objectives pure
    and simple unionism
  • Its weakness!
  • Why was its weakness a strength?

III- The World of the Workers, 1880-1900
  • What did George Pullman have to say about his
    willingness to use arbitration in the Pullman
  • Cannot arbitrate a fact that he knows to be true!

Role of Government
  • State legislatures or city councils occasionally
    tried to intervene on behalf of workers
  • Courts responded by invalidating virtually all
    such laws
  • Why?
  • More frequently legislatures made strikes or
    picketing illegal

  • Railway strikes of 1877 and 1894 led to heavy
    reliance on injunctions to deter labor disputes
  • Again employers property rights paramount
  • Injunctions often issued without union even being
  • Prohibited any activity in support of strike

Working Class
  • 1880 more than one million workers under the age
    of 16
  • By 1900 ¾ of the population consisted of workers
    and their families
  • Dramatic growth of immigration contributed to
    growth of working class and its growing diversity

Working Class
  • Growing need of families to send their daughters
    out to work
  • Craft unions largely benefited highly skilled
    white male workers who already had relatively the
    highest wages and best conditions
  • Segregation of the south
  • Jim Crow system
  • Lynching (2500 1885-1900)

  • Whites largely excluded African-Americans from
    their unions and from skilled jobs
  • AFL initially tried to encourage or even require
    unions to admit African-Americans
  • Eventually decided this was a hopeless task that
    would have to wait

Next Time
  • Begin discussion of labor in the progressive era