In "The Jungle", what are the 3 most important things one can learn about labor management relations during this turn-of-the century period?
The relationship between labor and management during this period was similar to the relationship between a tyrant and his people. Labor had no rights. Unions were in existence, but had little effect. After the Pullman strike in 1894, when President Cleaveland called in troops to break up the strike and caused the striking workers to become blacklisted, the effectiveness of unions was at an all-time low.
As a result, there was no control over wages or conditions. Wages were kept low because management had no reason to raise them - if all the employers were paying low wages and there was no shortage of workers, then there was no reason to raise them. Job security was non-existent. A person could be fired for no reason at all with no notice. There was always another person to take their spot, and their was no legal recourse for the employee. Finally, conditions were filthy and dangerous. Again, without a union or a government that would speak up for their rights, the employees could not complain. Therefore, management cut corners to keep costs down and make more money, despite the hazards.
The labor workers at this time had to keep their head down and work. The best thing to do was to go unnoticed.
The Industrial Revolution in The United States differed from industrial revolutions in other countries in one great respect....timing. Our industrial revolution was met with the open arms of human resources. The massive flow of immigrants into this country as labor happened exactly when industry needed them. The three most important aspects of labor-management realations at this time are as follows: The nation was under the practice of Laissez-Faire capitalism, government intervention into business affairs was non-existent. Often times government officals dined with the owners of industry. The sheer numbers of immigrants arriving at America's shores was a blessing to industry, not the labor. In essence industry had a disposable work force just lying at its feet. Capitalism has a long list of advantages, however it only has one disadvantage; it does not take care of all the needs of the people. The turn of the 20th century cements this argument to the core.