Drafting hundreds of thousands of recruits, holding hundreds of strikes, and uniting endless opportunities, labor unions were a striking force during the late 1870’sand early 1900’s. Labor unions were the workers’ saviors in providing less cruel and demanding physical labor. The most troubling issues at the time were the elongated 12 hour work shifts and child exploitation. A document advertising a massive town meeting (document 7) reflects how alarming the problem was. Factories covering many towns and cities required 12 hour shifts sometimes with no lunch breaks.
Workers would sometimes have to also deal with the clinical fatigue and illness associated with the long workdays. Even more disturbing to workers was the increasing number of juvenile laborers. Depicted in documents two and four, many kids would have to work in order to sustain their family’s income. Although magnanimous in personal sacrifice many children were physically inept to take on such demanding and filthy conditions. To help solve these universal problems many unions were formed in order to inspire change.
Many unions such as the American Railroad Union resorted to strikes notably as their paramount weapon for change. The Pullman Strike, shown in document six is the most famous strike riot during its time. Lead by Eugene Debs (document 1), a socialist leader, more than 125,000 worker joined hands in essentially called for a boycott on Pullman’s palace cars on nation railways. The strike although dismantled by President Cleveland, was a huge triumph for Chicago factory workers.Another example attributing to the success of unions was the Haymarket Riot of 1886.
Seen in document 2, the Haymarket Riot helped to actually reform other union organizations by showing the tragedy of violence. During the day of May 4, while rioters and police were engaged in heavy protests a bomb exploded killing a total of eight officers. The event rummaged through the Chicago city,…