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Labor Unions in The History of The United States

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In early years, labor unions were created to make reforms in the workplace. They lobbied for better working conditions, a minimum wage, and safety and health laws in the workplace and factories. The labor unions worked for these changes through strikes and other means of persuasion and were altogether effective in the long run. They achieved many good things in the reform movements.

During previous years, labor unions were used by industry workers as a way to make their voices heard and to push for change regarding unfair treatment. To some, these unions were seen as a form of threat but to others it was a way to bring the workforce together and make it beneficial to not one or a few, but to all. In most workplaces, they were made to work long arduous work days with little compensation. Sometimes they would end up working twelve hour work days. “The employer may work one hour or ten as he pleases; the workman must work whether it pleases him or not” (plea for eight hours).

When unions first came into existence in the 19th century, it was the beginning of the industrial revolution where workers moved away from agricultural work areas into factories and mines. In the process of this transition, many faced terrible working conditions and health risks. Many unions petitioned for health and safety laws after suffering through unsanitary and often dangerous and potentially deadly conditions which even led to cause many deaths in some workplaces after accidents “…had little time or opportunity to escape. The rapidly spreading fire killed 146 workers.” 

Women and children who worked, generally received lower pay than men did, but even the men weren’t receiving enough for the amount of time they worked, they would work long twelve hour days and get next to nothing for it just to try to feed their families. The government did little to limit and resolve these injustices so therefore, labor movements were formed; lobbying for better rights and working conditions. This gave the workers power to demand for things which they felt they needed. They lobbied for a minimum and workday hours and finally got the answer they wanted. “banned oppressive child labor and set the minimum hourly wage at 25 cents, and the maximum workweek at 44 hours”.

Labor unions have become irrelevant in the United States today. They were an important and fundamental part of the history of the United States commerce and the country’s growth into an economic powerhouse. But, as time has progressed and the economy and society have greatly advanced, there is less need for labor unions. In addition to their irrelevancy, unions are not beneficial to the United States commerce as they ruin the economic flow of the U.S. if on a large enough scale.  

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Labor Unions In The History Of The United States. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from
“Labor Unions In The History Of The United States.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
Labor Unions In The History Of The United States. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 Feb. 2023].
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