How successful was organized labor in improving the position of workers in the period from 1875-1900. Analyze the factors that contributed to the level of success achieved.
Struggling against low wages and long hours imposed by impersonal corporations, workers in the industrial age found strength in Labor Unions - but the work done by these unions had little or no impact on life in the end of the 19th century. Labor unions were disorganized, and many were exclusive, and without organization or strength in numbers they could not be very successful. As striking became frequent, corporations were aided by federal injunctions and troops in suppressing action by union-affiliated workers, and this once powerful weapon of labor unions became ineffective. Labor unions were also powerless in comparison to corporations which had an incredible amount of dominance in American society. Despite these factors, early unions set the ground work for unions in future years, and had a mild amount of immediate success.
Many labor unions were ineffective as a result of poor internal organization and minimal representation of the working class. During America's second industrial revolution, as people flocked to cities, many jobs were actually being eliminated by new technology and new production methods. A plethora of new machines were created and many workers lost their jobs as machines began to do the menial labor customary of the working class. Also, the assembly line process (developed by Eli Witney) reduced the amount of employees necessary to produce certain products. A machinist testified before the Senate Committee on Labor and Capital (Document D) that 100 men are able to do the work that it took 300-400 men to do in the past, as the work to create a machine is subdivided. With a shrinking number of jobs and a growing number of working classmen, and as metal gradually replaced muscle, labor unions were the most necessary, but were not strong enough to secure the jobs of their members.