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Gilded Age - Essay Example

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Name: Professor: Subject: Date: Were unions in the Gilded Age effective in raising the working class standard of living? The Gilded age in America had a significant transformation of how work was carried out. Workers started to carry their duties in a more organized manner while joining trade unions to try and fight for their rights…
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Gilded Age
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Download file to see previous pages Workers believed improvement of their working conditions would lead to improvement of their health and living standards. The trade unions during the gilded age were not able to deliver workers expectations to the full. The National Labor Union, which was an American Trade Union founded in 1866, had been formed to represent both skilled and unskilled workers. The party would not fight for the rights of the Black women because they were not allowed to join the union. The union main aim was to fight for less working hours, increased wage rate and better working conditions. The union had those as its goals but had to deal with the great depression together with immigrant workers who were not members of the union. The immigrants did replace workers within the manufacturing industries who did strike and were laid off (Zinn and Arnove 102). The employers took advantage of this situation not to bind with the demand of the trade union. The depression was a serious blow to the National Labor Union and its members, where workers had to take any job without choosing the pay, working hours or the conditions. Some employers did even reduce the average wage they gave to their workers during the depression without fear of the trade union. Withdrawal of members from the Union and leadership wrangles led to death of the union. Strikes led by the trade unions mostly did not yield good working conditions but led to loss of properties, death of workers and innocent citizens. The great rail road strike during the gilded age is a good example of how trade union and strikes did not gain anything in resolution of disputes. The strike was caused by the railway company cutting the wages of its employers by 10 percent. The cut in the wage was followed by a second cut which triggered a strike by railway workers. The government used federal army to quell the strike while the National Guard was out done by the striking workers. After the suppression of the striking workers by the soldiers, work had to resume with the reduced wage rate in the organization. This situation shows how government dealt ruthlessly with any striking workers leading to workers resuming job without their demands being met. Trade unions that organized mass action were sometime disbanded by government. Members were branded as either terrorist or gangs carrying out organized crimes. The jailing of workers is a sign of how trade union led to fall of some of their member who had to spend time serving jail terms. The knight trade union had its members blamed for the bombing of the Hay Market in Chicago. The Knight mass came to get under in 1890 after a number of unsuccessful strikes for the eight hour working conditions (Schlup and Ryan 271). The period saw miners working under deplorable conditions leading to death of 556 and 1565 miners within the Anthracite fields (Schlup and Ryan 271). All this happened during the gilded period when trade union was supposed to be protecting miners from such inhuman treatment. Trade union formed to solve issues on improving salary of miners on a sliding basis failed. In 1874 workers wages were reduced with the existence of the trade unions. The miner took the opportunity of the strike to destroy properties belonging to the mining companies like the Gowen mines. Any worker who tried to get back to work was threatened with death from other miners leading to deplorable living condition among the workers. The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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