Are Unions Protecting or Manipulating Workers? Additional Source Packet

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Are Unions Protecting or Manipulating Workers?

Additional Source Packet


Source A: The 8-Hour Labor Movement

Source B: The Haymarket Massacre or The Haymarket Affair

The Haymarket affair (also the Haymarket massacre or Haymarket riot) refers to the aftermath of a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration on Tuesday May 4, 1886, at Haymarket Square in Chicago. It began as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour day. An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they acted to disperse the public meeting. The bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians.

Source C: The Musical Saga of Homestead

Workers sang during strikes not only to state their beliefs and goals, but because singing helped bind workers together. The Homestead strike of 1892 even had its own Homestead Strike Songster, and the story of the strike can be traced in the lyrics of the following four songs. “The Homestead Strike” explained that Carnegie’s efforts to “lower our wages” was the basic cause of the strike. And “Song of a Strike,” written by George Swetnam, commemorated the Homestead strikers' courage in defending their homes and their jobs against the overwhelming might of the Carnegie Steel Company and their hired "bum detectives."

The Homestead Strike”

Now, boys, we are out on strike, you can help us if you like,

But you need not till I tell you what it’s about.

They want to lower our wages, we think it is not right;

So for union’s cause I want you all to shout.

We will sing the union’s praise while our voices we can raise,

With noble Mr. Garland at our head,

Hugh O’Donnell’s good, that’s true, we give him all the praise;

We can’t go wrong when by such men we’re led.

The struggle may be long, there’s no one yet can say,

But we’ll take it as it comes for a little while;

We will fight both night and day, for we’re bound to win the day,

And down this great steel king in grandest style.

Now let us all stand firm and take things very cool,

Then, you bet, we’re sure to win this little strike;

But if men don’t mind and start and act a fool,

That’s sure to cause no end of care and strife.

My advice to you is this, let us work with a cool head,

And try and do the best thing in our power;

We’ll have the good will of all, which will bring us back our bread,

And drive the demon Hunger from our door.

Let us unite with heart and hand and spread the news through this broad land,

We’ll not give in until the company yield,

And fight with might and main and travel hand in hand

To win this strike or die upon the field.

Song of a Strike”

We are asking one another as we pass the time of day,

Why workingmen resort to arms to get their proper pay.

And why our labor unions they must not be recognized,

Whilst the actions of a syndicate must not be criticized.

Now the troubles down at Homestead were brought about this way,

When a grasping corporation had the audacity to say:

"You must all renounce your union and forswear your liberty

And we will give you a chance to live and die in slavery."

Now this sturdy band of workingmen started out at the break of day,

Determination in their faces which plainly meant to say:

"No one can come and take our homes for which we have toiled so long,

No one can come and take our places—no, here’s where we belong!"

When a lot of bum detectives come without authority,

Like thieves at night when decent men were sleeping peacefully—

Can you wonder why all honest hearts with indignation burn,

And why the slimy worm that treads the earth when trod upon will turn?

When they locked out men at Homestead so they were face to face

With a lot of bum detectives and they knew it was their place

To protect their homes and families, and this was neatly done,

And the public will reward them for the victories they won.

Source D: “The History of Anarchy (Chaos) in Chicago”

Source E: Haymarket Strike Pamphlet

The circular below was written by Albert Spies in response to the killing of workers on May 3, 1886 at the McCormick Reapers Works.  The circular was written in both English and German. The prosecution introduced the circular into evidence on July 16, 1886 as "People's Exhibit 6."  Hundreds of copies of the "Revenge" circular were distributed by anarchists on the night of May 3.

Source F: Origins of Today's Union Movement


National Labor Union founded


Congress begins reconstruction policy in former slave states


Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor and Colored National Labor Union formed


15th Amendment to the Constitution adopted; states the right to vote may not be abrogated by color


National uprising of railroad workers Ten Irish coal miners ("Molly Maguires") hanged in Pennsylvania; nine more subsequently were hanged


Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions formed


First Labor Day parade in New York City


Successful strike by Knights of Labor on the Southwest (or Gould) System: the Missouri Pacific; the Missouri, Kansas and Texas; and the Wabash


American Federation of Labor founded


Seven "anarchists" charged with the bombing in Chicago's Haymarket Square and sentenced to death


Carpenters President P.J. McGuire and the union strike and win the eight-hour day for some 28,000 members


Iron and steel workers union defeated in lockout at Homestead, Pa. 
Integrated general strike in New Orleans succeeds


Boycott of Pullman sleeping cars leads to general strike on railroads


Erdman Act prohibits discrimination against railroad workers because of union membership and provides for mediation of railway labor disputes

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