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Gompers-Lewis Essay

"The term labor movement is often applied to any
organization or association of wage earners who join together to
advance their common interests.It more broadly applies,
however, to any association of workers by geographical area,
trade or industry, or any other factor.While labor unions have
been the almost exclusive center of the modern labor movement in
the United States, in Western Europe, and in many other
countries, the term labor movement has come to embrace
labor-oriented political parties as well as labor unions,
usually combined in a loose alliance." (Flagger, 2)
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the ups
and downs of the business cycle have influenced labor movements
in the United States.The expansion of economic activity —
bringing with it growth in the demand for labor — creates
conditions favorable to union organization and to demands of
wage earners for improved living standards.Correspondingly,
significant economic decline weakens the position of workers and
labor unions and often leads to a greater emphasis on government
Generally, American unions had their greatest successes
among blue-collar, or manual, workers, especially in the great
goods-producing sectors of the economy.(Flagger 9) In recent
decades there has been a shift away from goods to service
production.Unions have not been as successful in organizing
workers in the services, large numbers of whom are women,
including many part-time employees.
It was during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that
the United States saw the true effects labor unions could cause.
Through powerful leaders it was obvious how much could really be
accomplished in favor of workers.Leaders such as Samuel
Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, and John
L. Lewis, president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations,
were just two of this countries great l…

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