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How history of PA related to union help turn the state into a pro-union today - Research Paper Example

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History of Pennsylvania Union With the onset of the Industrial Revolution and increasing factory modes of production workers found themselves in the throes of dreadful working conditions and long hours. As a response to these social changes, workers progressively began banding together to collectively bargain with employers for better working conditions…
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How history of PA related to union help turn the state into a pro-union today
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Download file to see previous pages In the late 19th century mass production methods spread throughout the country and strongly took hold in Pennsylvania. One of the major contributors to the focus of Pennsylvania as a town of considerable production was through the steel mills established by Andrew Carnegie. While Carnegie’s steel production was a great boon to the state’s economy it was also clear that increased employee unionization was necessary. In addition to the explosion of Carnegie Steel, the state was also one of the regions that participated in the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 (James 1989). This was a major event in American history and had tremendous implications, as protestors would burn Union Depot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With the complications caused by the steel industry and the Great Railroad Strike it was clear that unionization was necessary to ensure social cohesion. In this climate, 107 delegates from assorted Pennsylvania cities and regions gathered in Turner Hall in Pittsburgh to organize the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (FOTLU) (Livesay 1978). This organization would constitute the first major union in the state. While the FOTLU functioned efficiently for the needs of skilled workers, non-skilled workers increasingly objected to its narrow focus. The state’s current union structure continued until 1886 when a full-scale strike was called as a means of achieving an eight-hour workday. The strike failed considerably when violence began to occur when an individual placed a bomb at one of the union’s organizations. It was after this incident that the Pennsylvania union recognized that its current structure was inefficient and larger political officials recognized the current climate would cause future social unrest. As a response to these considerations the FOTLU would disband and merge with twelve other national unions. With an estimated 140,000 members the American Federation of Labor was formed (AFL). During the early years of the 20th century there were a number of incidents that contributed considerably to Pennsylvania’s pro-union stance. One of the first such incidents occurred in 1909 with what came to be recognized as the Pressed Steel Car Strike of 1909 (‘Labor Legacy’). The largely immigrant workforce had been subjected to primitive working conditions which resulted in the subsequent strike. While this strike resulted in violence, it was only the precursor to the later Great Steel Strike of 1919 (James 1989). With workers experiencing poor job conditions the AFL organized a large-scale strike. Ultimately, the strike would fail as the workers lost public support, but in the long-term would contributed considerably to the state’s pro-union stance. The strike would fail and begin a fifteen-year period in Pennsylvania when the union lost considerable power and was unable to launch a significant action against employers. With the weakening of the unions, worker during this period would increasingly see working conditions deteriorate. This would come to a climax during the Great Depression when employers attempt to institute even worse conditions on Pennsylvania residents. As a response to these measures, the unions would once against gain public support and unionization would result in significant gains being made against poor working conditions ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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