How successful was organized labor in improving the position of workers in the period from 1875 to 1900?.
Organized labor was not very successful in improving the position of workers. Because labor unions only held about one to two percent of the total labor force and less than ten percent of the industrial workers, this organized labor did not have enough standings to actually make an impact. Organized labor probably could be considered more of a negative factor than positive in the lives of workers. As can be seen in the political cartoon from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 8, 1887, all of the different groups fighting for the working class were actually just ruining it for the workingman. Although their motivations were in the right place, they just did to much to spoil things for the working class.
Organized labor was regarded by many as a joke. As reported in an Editorial in The New York Times, July 18, 1887, "[T]he strike is apparently hopeless, and must be regarded as nothing more than a rash and spiteful demonstration of resentment by men too ignorant or too reckless to understand their own interests-. This quote shows that many people in the general populous did not care for organized labor and considered it to be something that only the thoughtless and irresponsible. Because of strikes, many people were killed for senseless reasons. According to the "Coroner's list of the killed", Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 7, 1892, 11 people were reported dead because of the strike at Carnegie Homestead and "a number of others were reported dead, but the Coroner has no official notification of their death". This shows that because of strikers and misunderstandings, too many people were killed.
Labor unions also did not get much accomplished. According to the "Hours and Wages of Industrial Workers 1875-1891" Average daily hours went down from 9.9 hours to 9.4 hours. That is only a half an hour over a sixteen-year period, which is not very substantial.