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Why did American workers in the late 1800s have such trouble responding to the new...

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jim1hu | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted February 7, 2012 at 3:27 AM via web

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Why did American workers in the late 1800s have such trouble responding to the new industrial conditions of labor?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 7, 2012 at 3:33 AM (Answer #1)

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I assume that you are asking why they were not able to "fix" the new conditions or to do anything really to change them.  If so, the reason is that the workers had very little power.

In the new industrial order, workers were relatively low-skilled and therefore not very valuable.  Since more or less anyone could do the work, and because there were so many workers (with immigration booming) available, there was nothing valuable about the workers.  They could be easily replaced.  When the skills you have are easy to replace, your employer has a lot of power over you.  Because of this, the workers were not able to force the employers to improve the conditions under which they worked.

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