During the late 1600's to early 1900's, American laborers responded to bad working conditions and wages by organizing strikes and unions. However, the effort was impeded due to three main factors: the government, the owners, and the lack of unity among the unions. .
Perhaps the main obstacle that the labor reform movement faced was from the government, who sided with the companies to suppress uprisings from the workers by means of violence, and numerous acts. A notable character from the government was President Cleveland, who issued a letter that ordered the laborers not to "interfere with the business or affairs directly or indirectly, of any of the railroad companies." (3) Besides issuing statements, the government also suppressed strikes by ordering federal troops "to fire striking workers." (3) These bias acts are supported by government acts such as the Sherman Anti-trust act, and the Merritt Conspiracy Act. .
Naturally, wealthy owners who only wanted to protect their profit opposed labor movement. An important owner was Andrew Carnegie, who claimed that he would "never employ one of these rioters." (7). To support further labor oppression, George Pullman refused to employ strikers by hiring "more docile workers to replace those who had struck." (10). Lastly, George Baer refused any kind of intervention or negotiation from workers by declaring that "the rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for by men who were given the control of the property interest of the country." (12) .
Finally, reform came about slowly because there was a lack of unity among the movements due to the differences in interests, time, and location. While there were many attempts at improving working conditions, each one had a different goal: child labors, unhealthy work for women, and low wages. In addition, the strikes happened at different times: Pullman Strike in 1894, the IWW strikes in the early 1900's, and a wave of strikes in 1919.