The Birth of Unionism….


The Birth of Unionism….

When I first started this class, I assumed we would have classes with the curriculums we would have in high school, where the professors gives a goal or an “aim” of the day and fills us with definitions and dates.  However, I was quite taken aback (and later on pleased)by all these articles and readings we were given to analyze. My favorite reading was Yates, only because he gives a glossary and a timeline that I every so often look back on. In fact every time I want to refer to another reading’s time frame, for instance Brecher’s pieces on the history of unionism, Yates helps me fill in the puzzle. Brecher centralizes his piece on the Upheaval f 1877, automatically; I think post Civil War, where there were a lot of freed slaves offering cheaper labor than white middle class. Yates’s timeline holds a paragraph for the Great Upheaval of 1877, explaining that it was as major strike where violence was used to suppress the workers from striking. By this time the National Labor Union and Knights of Labor were formed in order to heal the post Civil War circumstance being a part of the Reconstruction. Brecher goes into details of how the government was entirely involved in favor of the huge industries. In retrospect, one would think a great country that just fought to keep itself together and protect the rights of its citizens and their property would be lenient or understand the importance of “worker’s rights” not “production of labor” as Marx pointed out. However, industries were most hurt by this change in labor and needed to maintain their upper hand in controlling their profit. Simultaneously, it was apparent that the spirit of individuality was well sparked by the civil war and workers took the Great Upheaval as the perfect opportunity to fight for their rights to be treated righteously as workers. Strikers went as far has stopping their work so that it would hurt the business, for instance not letting any trains leave from any of  the stations. As unionism became stronger and more organized, industries would suppress such practices by firing anyone who joined a Union or even “locking” 2,000 workers in the factories.Overall, Brecher provided a good explanation of how Unions truly came about and gave me a better understanding of its roots establishing how important and we today take a forty hour work week for granted.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.