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GCCCD Modern Business The Men Who Built America Paper

GCCCD Modern Business The Men Who Built America Paper

Question Description

I’m working on a history report and need an explanation to help me learn.

You are to view TWO of the videos dealing with Modern Business: Choices include two from the Men Who Built America, Andrew Carnegie, and The Rockefellers. You are to watch two of these videos, take notes and write a summary of two of the videos. Finally you are to tell which businessman impressed you most and why

1- wright a good intro and small after watching the first video



4-Finally you are to tell which businessman impressed you most and why




3)- VODEO Rockefellers :



During the first two hundred years of our history the term “labor” meant little for most Americans. 90% of the early residents were farmers and were self-employed. They worked with their families six days a week in the fields from sunrise to sunset and they lived in a survival culture period. The arrival of Francis Cabot Lowell and the first successful factory in Massachusetts in the early 1800s gave the term “labor” a new meaning. Jobs now became available although the types of jobs were limited. The majority of jobs were in the factory. Remember the Lowell model for the factory included the idea of “cheap labor.” Let us now see the reality of that term. I do want you to remember that the entire period of the 1800s was pro-business and the entire period of the 1800s was anti-labor.


Factory labor involved long hours and low wages. Workers were employed six days a week from sunrise to sunset; the number of hours varied depending upon the time of the year and the available light. Your workplace was a sweatshop- this means an unregulated workplace. Remember that before 1900 the government was inactive; it was not involved in regulation of labor or control of the workplace. In addition, when the workers tried to form labor unions, the businessmen went to the courts and the court decisions ruled that labor unions were illegal. Workers would get no help from the government and no help from labor unions. They had few breaks during the day and the factories were very hot and filthy. When a person moved into the factory city to work in the factory, they usually signed a contract of employment which left the hours of employment and the wages blank. The factory owner would fill in the hours and wages. Low wages was common. After one week’s work of low hours in sweat shop conditions, the worker would receive on the average apx. $3.00. This is not a misprint. This is not the hourly wage or daily wage but the weekly wage. Lowell wasn’t kidding when he said “cheap labor.”

The factory owners created two types of factory systems. The first was called the Fall River system; this system employed entire families- men, women, and children. Women and children could legally work in the factory. The second system was called the Waltham system. This system employed young farm females who moved into the city and lived in an overcrowded dorm near the factory. The same working conditions applied to these young women, plus they were constantly victims of sexual harrassment. The labor system was called wage slavery. You were like a slave to pathetic wages. To illustrate how bad things were for workers, Massachusetts in 1842 passed a child labor law that was considered a real victory. The law said that children under 12 years of age could work no more than 12 hours a day. What a victory for child labor!


While some national unions appeared before the Civil War, they brought few changes for workers. The important national labor leaders and national unions appeared after the Civil War during the rise of big business. The important leaders were William Sylvis, Uriah Stephens, Terence Powderly, and Samuel Gompers. Their unions were the National Labor Union, the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor. The first real labor leader was William Sylvis. William Sylvis was an ironworker and he formed a national union for ironworkers. But he felt that all workers whether they held a skilled or unskilled job needed a large, national union to began to deal with the power of rising big business. His idea was that you need big labor to deal with big business. So he formed the National Labor Union; the name of the union is self explanatory. This was a national labor union that included all workers-skilled or unskilled in its membership. We cannot give a great deal of success to Sylvis or his union, because his untimely death caused his work to be cut short and his union virtually disappeared. But Sylvis was not completely a failure; he did give other labor leaders the idea that America needed a large, powerful, national union for all workers.

Uriah Stephens was a tailor; he was an outstanding speaker, administrator and organizer and with those talents he formed a national labor union for tailors. But he felt that this was only the beginning and in 1878 he formed the Knights of Labor. This was a national union for all workers-skilled or unskilled. He even allowed women and minorities to join his union. While he was an outstanding speaker and organizer and administrator, he did not relate very well to members of his union because he was an uptight moralist. His real hangup involved alcohol. He never drank and he even banned all workers involved with alcohol from his union. The Knights of Labor should be remembered as the first successful national union in American history.

The work of Stephens was continued by his successor Terence Powderly. The leadership of Terence Powderly led to the high point in growth of the Knights of Labor. Millions of American workers-skilled and unskilled- joined the union. His contemporaries felt that he was an oustanding speaker and administrator, but like Stephens, he was also an uptight moralist and related very poorly to the members of his union. But we must give credit to Stephens and Powderly for their work with the Knights of Labor. They existed nearly twenty years when business was getting bigger and bigger and had great influence over the government, the media, and the courts.

The 1870s to the 1890s were not very good time for workers in general and for labor leaders and labor unions in particular. Through the media, the general public had little sympathy for unemployed individuals and for organized labor and the main weapon of organized labor- the strike. The general public felt that many labor leaders were radicals and troublemakers and that strikes were unnecessary. These generally negative feelings really hurt working people and unions at this time. We must give a great deal of credit to the Knights of Labor for lasting as long as they did during this difficult time for working people. Take some of the events during this time and how these events effected workers and unions.

In 1873 there was a national depression that caused rising unemployment. A group of unemployed met at Tompkins Square in New York and the meeting was broken up by police on horses. Many of the unemployed were injured. But there was little sympathy toward them in the media. The general feeling back then was that they were unemployed because they were lazy. In 1878 there were railroad strikes in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Both strikes led to violence in those cities; again the media offered little sympathy toward strikes and strikers and viewed them as unnecessary and led by radicals. In the 1880s there were again violent strikes along with a meeting of dissatisfied laborers in Haymarket Square in Chicago. Again the police broke up this meeting but as the meeting was being broken up a bomb was thrown in the direction of the police. The image of labor was hurt again by this incident. In the 1890s there was at strike at the Homestead plant of Carnegie steel; strikebreakers broke up the strike and again there was violence. A crazed man nearly killed Henry Frick, Carnegie’s hired manager. Labor was again hurt. One of the worst incidents of violence occurred during the Pullman Strike, a railroad strike that threatened to tie up the railroads of America. This time the president who was Grover Cleveland got involved and called out the army to put down the strike. He justified his actions by saying that the use of the army was necessary to keep the mail system running.

In spite of this low period for labor, labor leaders and labor unions, the Knights of Labor was alive and well and lasted into the 1890s. But the Knights of Labor eventually disappeared. The reasons for the death of the Knights of Labor had to do with the moralistic leaders Stephens and Powderly, the overly general goals of the union, the idealism of the leaders and the use of frequent strikes. The only labor leader to survive the bad times and make it to the 20th century was Samuel Gompers. Gompers was a Jewish cigarmaker in New York who decided that the cigarmakers needed a national skilled union. So he formed a skilled union that would seek gradual change in a very difficult period for working people and would try to avoid strikes at all costs. Gompers was a very popular labor leader and he related well to the workers. His cigarmarkers’ union was successful and became a model for other skilled unions. The Gompers’ model had been created. By 1884 a number of national skilled unions came together under the direction of Gompers came together to form the American Federation of Labor. This union would become the only union to make it to the age of Progressivism and would set the standards for modern unions. The structure of this union is the structure for unions today; this is a two level union. There is a local level as well as a national level with local leaders and benefits and national leaders. It is a union that followed the realistic philosophy of Gompers that sought gradual change along with avoiding strikes. While the Knights of Labor disappeared, the American Federation of Labor survived.


Progressivism featured an active federal government; it began the regulation of business and it also offered programs to help working people. Again Theodore Roosevelt is the first Progressive president; he recognized the existence and importance of working people and created the Department of Labor within his executive department. A coal strike occurred when he was president and he became the first president to attempt to settle this strike favorable to workers. Progressive programs continued and were expanded under President Woodrow Wilson who is the most productive progressive president. Wilson added a touch of morality to his progressive labor programs. He passed a series of Child Labor Laws to regulate the use of children in employment. The Lafollette Dockworkers Act regulated conditions for dockworkers. The Adamson Act created the standard eight hour work day and was first applied to railroad workers. The most important labor law under Wilson was the Clayton Act which was the beginning of five significant labor laws in the 20th century. The Clayton Act recognized the existence of labor unions and stated clearly that labor unions could exist and that labor unions could collectively bargain for workers. The act also outlawed the use of the court order known as the injunction to break up unions and stop strikes. With the beginning of an active federal government toward labor, working conditions began to improve while labor unions began to grow. Of course, the union that benfitted the most was the American Federation of Labor. But this union only included skilled workers. There was no national union for unskilled workers. Bill Haywood now arrived on the scene.

Bill Haywood was an Idaho miner who saw the need for a national unskilled union for miners, lumber workers and other unskilled workers, particularly in the west. Haywood would become the founder of the radical union known as the Industrial Workers of the World and with his radical views, he would be referred to as “Wild Bill.” This was a national union for unskilled workers; it was a union that developed slogans and songs with its theme song being, “Halleluyah, I’m a bum .” It was a union that also developed a new labor tactic known as the slow down. Instead of going out on strike, you stay on the job and work very slowly. During World War I, the federal government was very insistent in having labor unions avoid strikes and labor disputes. Haywood would not follow the government guidelines. So after the war was over, more and more Americans viewed the union as a union of traitors and by the 1920s the first red scare led to this union being viewed as a union filled with Communists and Communist leaders. In a few years the union would be gone. But the union did show that there was a desperate need for a national union for unskilled workers and did leave behind the labor tactics known as the slow down strike.

The 1920s was a mixed bag for American workers. There was prosperity in the 1920s and low unemployment. At the same time there was a real decline in labor union membership and a real decline in the number of strikes. Courts once again began to allow injunctions to be used, while the active federal government became quite inactive. This false prosperity would end with the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. The Great Depression featured the highest level of unemployment in American History; more than 16 million Americans were unemployed and looked more and more to the federal government for help. This help would come to with the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and the arrival of his New Deal programs. Roosevelt planned to bring relief, recovery and reform to America. Workers really needed jobs and Roosevelt created government jobs with programs such as the Public Works Act, and the Tennessee Valley Act and the Civilian Conservation Corps Act. But the most important labor programs of the New Deal came with the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the Wagner Act.

The Norris-LaGuardian Act attempted to revive the Clayton Act and it was actually the Clayton Act revisited. The act said again that labor unions were legal, labor unions could bargain for workers and the injunction was again illegal. The most important labor law ever passed by the federal government for workers was the Wagner Act. The Wagner Act was a law that attempted to protect workers’ rights against unfair employer practices. The National Labor Relations Board was created in Wasington,D.C. as the national agency to oversee this law; in addition local labor boards were set up in federal offices in cities around the country. A worker could now file a complaint with the local labor board and that board had the power to investigate the complaint and judge whether the employee had been treated unfairly. The board has the power to enforce decisions, fine employers and in extreme cases even jail employers. More and more Americans are seeking relief for violation of their workers’ rights.

The 1930s saw working people helped by the federal government and labor unions once again experienced a growth period with the American Federal of Labor becoming the large, dominant union. This was still only a union for skilled workers; the unskilled still needed a national union. Now arrived on the scene John L. Lewis. Lewis would become the hero of the American miners with his formation of and leadership of the American Mineworkers Union. He would drastically change the working conditions for miners in America. And he would also take the lead to form a large, powerful national union for unskilled workers- the Congress of Industrial Organizations. He did attempt to get recognition for unskilled workers within the American Federation of Labor but he failed. So he turned to the formation of his own unskilled union that would become a rival with the American Federation of Labor for years. Lewis was a rebel much like Bill Haywood. He also developed a new type of labor protest known as the “sit down” strike. Instead of going out on a strike, they would sit down on the job and would not leave until a new contract had been negotiated. This type of strike was quite popular among auto workers in Ford plants; they would not go home after work and would not leave the Ford plant until a settlement had been reached. Lewis, like Haywood, refused to follow government restrictions on strikes during World War II.

With the conclusion of World War II, unemployment rose as did the number of strikes. Some of these strikes, however, were being done by large powerful unions and they were beginning to have serious effects on the economy and on the life of the general public. With a Republican Congress in place during the presidency of Harry Truman, a labor law was passed that would lessen the damaging effects of national strikes. This was the Taft Hartley Act of 1947. This law first protected employees against unfair labor practices and it gave power to the president to limit strikes if they “jeopardized the welfare of the general public.” There have been numerous examples of the use and possible use of this presidential power since 1947. Under President Ronald Reagan, both the professional football players and professional baseball players went out on strike. Sports fans of America urged that Reagan use his powers under this law, but he did not feel that this situation jeopardized the welfare of the general public. On the other hand, Reagan did feel that the air controllers strike did threaten the national welfare and he ordered the workers back to work and eventually jailed the leaders of the union. This is the power of the Taft Hartley Act.

The 1950s featured good news and bad news for labor. The good news was that in 1955 the American Federal of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations came together to form one large, powerful union : the A.F. of L./C.I.O. Labor strife would finally end and the unskilled and skilled would now be represented by one effective national union. At the same time there were more and more rumors about the misuse of labor funds by labor unions. A congressional investigation reveals that these rumors were true and the union most responsible for this misuse was the Teamsters Union and its leaders Jimmy Hoffa and Dave Beck. Hoffa eventually went to jail for misuse of labor funds; reports further revealed that he also had mafia ties. When Hoffa was finally released from jail, he disappeared and has never been found. Books and articles seem to feel that he was killed by members of the Mafia. In response to growing corruption by labor unions, the last major labor law was passed in 1959- the Landrum Griffin Act. This law attempted to regulate unions as if they were businesses and held unions to a strict accounting. Unions had become so large and had do much money to account for, they had become as if they were large businesses.

Since the 1960s, there has been a balance between big unions and big businesses.
The A.F.ofL./C.I.O. has become a major force in American politics and it has become increasingly difficult to become president without the support of this union. But in general membership in labor unions has decline and the number of strikes in American society has declined. There are fewer union members and fewer strikes. Workers today face a real crisis from automation as well as foreign competition. More workers are being replaced by machines, such as computers. Computers offer a real threat to the American worker. More and more American companies are using foreign labor because foreign labor is much cheaper than American labor. The situation of workers in America today is undergoing change. But Americans workers are the best paid workers in the world with the best working conditions and with protection from the federal government. Labor has come a long way since the days of Francis Cabot Lowell and his textile factory in Massachusetts. The place where labor and business have interacted is the place in America known as the city. This is our next topic and the last topic for the first half of the class.



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