American Labor Movement After the Civil War

Subject: History
Pages: 3
Words: 564
Reading time:
2 min

The term labor movement is used to refer to a group or an association of working people, campaigning in their own interest for improved treatment from their respective employers, particularly through the execution of definite laws that surround labor affairs. The labor unions or trade unions are joint organizations in societies, formed for the reason of representing the workers’ issues and that of the working class. Many learned individuals and political groups have always been participants in, and part of the labor movement family.

Coming back to the origin of the American labor movement, we realize that the Northern victory triggered the expansion of capitalism and the abuse of workers; yet it was of genuine worth for the development of the labor movement. The workers were in a position to challenge the bourgeoisie who in this case was their principal adversary, instead of fighting the slave owners and plantation owners.

As the Civil War intensified, the establishment of trade organizations was at its peak. The aftermath of the war was the passing of the eight-hour working day law that the workers had to be subjected to. The American labor movement began with acknowledging the needs and challenges of the American laborers in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, where the first-ever child labor law was passed in 1836, which forbade the employment of children who had not attained the age of fifteen years. It also acknowledged the fact that the trade unions were legal.

The impact of the formation of the labor movement on American society is that it resulted in many men dying and a good number of them wounded. The laborers and the management were always in conflict, the result of which was numerous strikes by the laborers. Since the American economy was declining, the employees were determined to cut down the laborers’ wages and disable the workers union. Strikes occurred when various employees stopped working because of a complaint and especially when the organizations took them for granted. Most laborers would have threatened to down their tools for them to get at least comfortable working conditions or better pay. The mid-twentieth century strikes always turned brutal as policemen intervened forcing the laborers to retaliate, and going as far as protesting against their employers.

The unions acted as a voice of the workers’ issues but in most cases the employers did not want to create an audience with them, preferring to deal with the workers individually. Indeed, divide and rule was their policy. This kind of rigidity by the employers and the kind of oppression the workers faced sometimes went as far as calling for a strike which always left many wounded or dead.

To sum it up, most of the current workers today in America enjoy well reputable workers’ rights via the strikes that arose in the early to mid-twentieth century. Today the Labor unions in the United States are lawfully known as the legislative body of workers in various industries. The most well-known unions are amongst the public area employees who include police and teachers. Activities by labor unions in the U.S today revolve around the united bargaining over pay, reimbursement, and generally the working conditions of their members, not forgetting to represent their members when the organization tries to breach contract requirements.