REFORMS "change will do you good" 1880- 1920 Explain the development of business and the role of labor unions. Include: issues for reform, the specific unions, the strikes and their effectiveness, etc....

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As industrial wealth was rising and as the "titan of industry" or "robber baron" was emerging into a force that began to exercise both political and social control, the need to protect and galvanize the rights of workers became fundamentally important.  The rise of the union was done in this name.  The idea of being able to give voice to the worker, who had been silent in most of the industrialization process, became of vital importance to the union.  This took the form of advocating for better working conditions, more say over hours worked, as well as compensation for said work.  Unions were a way to balance out, or at least try to, the extremely potent power of the industrialist who had much more at their disposal and could evade responsibility for the treatment of the workers that were responsible for the business owner's wealth.

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During these years, businesses were growing in size and complexity.  They were also developing more working routines (Taylorism).

The labor unions were fighting for, in general, better working conditions and wages and shorter work hours.  The two most important labor unions were the Knights of Labor (a more radical union that disliked the whole capitalist system) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL) that was more of an elitist union that focused on "bread and butter issues."

During this time, the Homestead strike of 1892 and the Pullman strike of 1894 were two of the more violent and important strikes.  Overall, the strikes did not do a whole lot of good and businesses generally came out on top compared to the unions.

 

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