What were the failures unions experienced in the early 1900s?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that some of the largest failures of unions in the early 1900s was to not recognize that the worker struggle applied to people of different narratives.  A case can be made that while there were many successes for unions in the early 1900s, the exclusionary practices of unions in terms of African- Americans and other groups represented a failure to embrace collectivism and solidarity.  I think that this ended up hurting unions in the long term.  As capitalism proved to be more malleable, able to appropriate some "softer" union goals in its schematic, the weakening of the union concept became more apparent.  The unions believed capitalism to be non- negotiable, but industrialists understood the power of being able to give a little to the unions in order to keep them happy and prevent worker revolt.  In this light, unions might have been better set to include as many people as possible, as many workers as possible, to guarantee that solidarity and collectivity could not be "bought off."

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